Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Book Description:

Hardcover, 608 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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.

Reviewer's Copy: ARC

Source: Dianne and Pinoybooktours! (Thank you!)

My Thoughts:

Illuminae is hands down the best science fiction novel I have read this year. As I'm writing this review, I find myself grasping, searching and squeezing-my-eyes-shut-thinking of words to describe my reading experience. I found the book most intriguing and incredibly unique. The format of the story was unlike any other, in such a way that it was comprised of various files that were gathered about the incident: chat conversations, official statements, outlines and blueprints of the spacecrafts involved, emails, medical reports, official exchanged between ships, written reports that were narratives of audio and surveillance footage, files and more. I thought that because of the format, I might find the narration limited and cagey. I was wrong on so many levels. The variety in the formats enabled the reader to jump from one perspective to another, while enjoying the story from the back seat. I was able to experience the story in various forms and form a thorough understanding and form healthy guesses based on the information presented.

Kady and Ezra. The two ex-lovers by label, silent lovers by choice. Ezra was a pilot, flying a Cyclone, which was the first line of defense of the Alexander. He was brutally honest and cursed too much for his own good, and yet I found him charming. He could be a representative of the modern guy, with a kind heart and a conscience amidst the darker attributes. Getting a female main character that was a talented hacker was a bonus. Kady was a genius with code. It was amazing to see her at work as she broke through the walls and security systems to get the most hidden and most coveted information about the attack on Kerenza and the chaos that was the travel to Heimdall by Copernicus, Hypatia and Alexander. I admired her perseverance, bravery and guts. She was a modern heroine, unafraid to test the water and to swim hip deep into the unknown. She was a very private person. I saw myself in her silence, in the risks that she took and in the sacrifice that she did. She was the ultimate example of a person on a "no regrets" policy in life. I loved the banter between them, albeit limited. It was one of a kind. They broke up right before their planet was attacked. The sudden separation, emotionally and physically, drew them apart. Through sparse emails and forbidden chat conversations, they reunited. There was spark between them that was easy to spot. Somehow, this satisfied me despite the fact that the novel was primarily focused on action and destruction. I loved reading about these two - how they interacted, worried about one another and eventually tried to save each other while digging for hard truths.

The plot was what I would consider catastrophically epic. When I thought things couldn't get worse, it did. When I thought the cast had suffered enough, they suffered even more. The setting reminded me of Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan, with two more spacecrafts, more people and more firepower. I enjoyed reading about the specific culture in each vessel. But what really intrigued me the most was the Alexander and its military crew. With the Lincoln, the enemy, hot on their heels, Torrence and his men were breaking under the pressure. They were understaffed, forced to conscript civilians into service and to make things worse, their ship took damage and their artificial intelligence system, AIDAN was going crazy. I enjoyed reading about the military aspect of the book. I've always been fond of military fiction and it was so rare to find a book that goes into full detail about it. The authors were focused on every little detail, and that made me appreciate the story even more.

Another thing that I liked about Illuminae was AIDAN, the out of control AI. It was a fascinating experience to try to understand the point of view of an intelligent yet unliving, incorporeal thing. It was programmed for defense and security, to protect and prioritize the fleet. However, because it has no morals, its decision-making was surprisingly unorthodox and tragically cruel. It was a terrifying exhibit of what might happen with mankind's inventions.

Illuminae is a beautifully chaotic and wild adventure into the unknown. Readers are bound to experience the following symptoms: adrenaline rush, heart stoppage and system restart at suspense and terrifying scenes, heartache due to brutally tragic events, laughing like a crazy person over the humor injected into the story, getting butterlies in your stomach over unexpectedly sweet scenes and lastly, goosebumps over the gorgeousness that is Illuminae. Highly recommended to all human beings alive, especially science fiction enthusiasts!


5 Cupids = Eternal book love.
I will never, ever, ever forget this book. I highly recommend this!

Giveaway: Hardcovers of Illuminae
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