This was a psychotic, hilarious, tear-wrenching, ingenious emotional roller coaster of a novel. And I f**king loved it. God, I loved it. And I have the book that just might make the top of my fantasy reads this year. ALSO DID YOU KNOW THAT IT’S GOING TO BE A SERIES?! #mindblown
If you might be shying away from this book, like I was, because it has a
strange unique format and you’re not sure if you’ll understand the plot and characters through it, TRUST ME: the style only increases the depth, suspense, and emotional pull. I was immediately sucked in, and the switches of POV and plotlines wasn’t hard to figure out at all. It’s basically the story of how two spaceships ran away from the big bad terrorist spaceship, but it’s all so much more complex and layered.
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
Kady (pronounced Kay-dee, not Kay-tee or Kah-dee) Grant is one of our two main(est) characters, and probably the more prominent of the two. She’s a sharp, brave hacker with a deliciously twisted sense of humor and (I find it helpful to point out) pink hair. I enjoyed the hell out of reading about her, because she basically was ME. I’m sorry to have to say that (#sobasic), but it’s true. I related to her sooo very much. I’m not sure if it was the cynical jokes, or the endless sarcasm, or the mixed introverted AND extraverted personality… but it definitely resonated with me. She also had a lot of flaws, and made some very human mistakes, which really deepened her character for me. She wasn’t perfect, and I loved that. Her whole character was just amazing, and the writers did a really great job creating her. If I want a fictional person to be my best best BESTEST friend, that’s a big thumbs up. We can exchange snarky comments all day.
*from their personal IMs*
Mason, E, LT 2nd (Ezra): kady this is nuts
ByteMe (Kady): I’M ON A **** ING DERELICT WARSHIP ON THE RUN FROM THE PSYCHOTIC CREW AND AN INSANE ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TRYING TO SAVE MY **** ING BOYFRIEND.
ByteMe (Kady): goddamn right it’s nuts
ByteMe (Kady): next super helpful observation plz
Now Ezra Mason, her ex-but-not-really-boyfriend, had much less of an emotional connection with me. I think it might have been because we didn’t go as far on his journey…? I definitely read more from Kady’s POV than his. I also didn’t love that his plotline was basically whining about her not being his girlfriend anymore (even though she kind of was…) and trying to get her back. NOT that I disliked him. He was just a less developed, secondary character. The writers really shone through with Kady’s character, and didn’t focus on him quite enough. Comparatively, he comes out a bit bland. But still, his relationship with Kady turned into something quite unique and emotional, and I loved seeing them both strengthen through each other. Also, he really liked Kady for her humor, which was adorable and nice to see in a male love interest.
*more from the IMs*
Mason, E, LT 2nd: and all of a sudden she looks up at the vent. like, RIGHT AT ME. and she just starts screaming at the top of her lungs
Mason, E, LT 2nd: don’t look at me
Mason, E, LT 2nd: don’t look at me
Mason, E, LT 2nd: **** ED up
ByteMe: yes. yes it is.
ByteMe: u should probably not look at her
Mason, E, LT 2nd: …
Mason, E, LT 2nd: you’re gonna get me killed, grant
Mason, E, LT 2nd: making me lol in a situ like this
Mason, E, LT 2nd: everyone’s looking at me like i’m crazy now
Mason, E, LT 2nd: thx 4 that
It seems weird to consider a super computer a character, but AIDAN, the software of the main battleship that Ezra is in, ended up really growing on me. If you ignore the psychotic killing sprees and weird narcissistic tendencies, (he? it?) actually has a very sweet personality. I felt like he was falling in love with Kady, as he got to know her more, which is straaaange, but… cute. I definitely enjoyed watching him gain some depth and feeling, it was a very interesting process and one of the uniquer parts of this book.
I have to say that, even if Ezra was not a spectacular supporting character, his friends absolutelywere. Especially this one soldier, Jimmy McNulty. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed at his IMs between himself and Jimmy. He was basically everything I’ve ever imagined an older brother to be like, but somehow more connected. His nickname for Kady, Astro-Space Princess, was sweet and teasing and silly, and I really liked him altogether, as a character.
The multiple POVs, the plotlines, the suspense, the action. This plot comes into a very close second to Throne of Glass, which, trust me, is the highest award I can grant a novel. It was all spectacularly woven around and in-between, and because I don’t want to spoil you, here is a spoiler-free synopsis that’s a little more in-depth than the Goodreads one.
A little planet called Kerenza is illegally mining hermium, a banned substance in the social system that these planets have created. One day, they’re attacked by terrorists in the dreadnought ship Lincoln, and many thousands die. But three ships escape full of people: the Hypatia, the Copernicus, and the Alexander. The main two characters, Kady and Ezra, are stuck in different ships. Kady’s holed up on Hypatia, with her measly guidance counselors and food rations. Ezra’s been conscripted into the military over on Alexander, and he’s a new pod pilot. But when the software program on Alexander goes haywire and kills off the other ship, Copernicus, and the survivors from the attack carry a deadly disease into the Alexander called ‘phobos’, things start getting a little insane. Lunatics with weapons are killing off their own relatives and friends in the quarantine zone. Some major Alexander engine parts have been damaged. And the Lincoln is catching up with the remaining ships quickly, with over eight months of travel to the nearest safe port. Kady is in a pinch to help with coding and programming to get the software back under control, and Ezra is risking his life daily, training with soldiers and battling the diseased passengers. Who will die? Who will win? What sacrifices need to be made to survive?
I gotta tell you, I haven’t been this genuinely scared while reading a book since Frankenstein. I was seriously terrified while reading about these afflicted people with the ‘phobos’ disease. It turned them into serial killers, with a psychotic need to kill, and all other emotions pushed away. Also, you couldn’t really tell if someone truly was afflicted, because they could hide it to let you get closer, in order to kill you. *shiver* There were many chilling scenes, and I was thrilled and excited, hanging off the edge of my seat. I certainly didn’t expect such horror-esque vibes, but they were there alright.
Speaking of emotional roller coasters, I also don’t think I’ve ever wept twice while reading a book. Clockwork Princess and TFIOS were tear-jerkers for sure, but I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever ugly-cried two times (at least, not for a book). BUT THE DEATHS. I COULDN’T. Even for the characters we weren’t that connected to, the feels just kept exploding, and I cried and criiiieeeed. What kind of a fantasy/sci-fi novel makes you set a record for crying? A FRIGGING WELL-WRITTEN ONE.
♥ Amazing, intense writing
♥ Funny dialogue & humor
♥ Ingenious plot with many twists and turns
♥ Relatable characters with HUMAN emotions
♥ Emotional roller-coaster ride
♥ Lots of death and mild-to-medium gore (could be a pro or con)
♥ Did I mention emotional roller-coaster ride?
I am so happy to have finally had the amazing experience of reading this novel. It was a complex and long journey, but I made it through with lots of laughter, crying, and overall love. Highly, highly recommended.
AMIE KAUFMAN is the New York Times bestselling co-author of the STARBOUND TRILOGY. JAY KRISTOFF is the award-winning author of the LOTUS WAR TRILOGY. Collectively, they are 12′5″ tall and live in Melbourne, Australia, with two long-suffering spouses, two rescue dogs, and a plentiful supply of caffeine. They met thanks to international taxation law, and stuck together due to a shared love of blowing things up and breaking hearts. You can learn more about Amie and Jay at amiekaufman.com and jaykristoff.com.
Are you planning on reading this book? What are your thoughts? Do you like sci-fi, or meh?