Illuminae Review: An Intense Hodgepodge of Files

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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.

 

“You have me. Until the last star in the galaxy dies, you have me.”

So I don’t usually read science fiction because it makes my brain work and I’m lazy and also I’m usually not smart enough to even understand what the heck is going on. And yet here I ended up, reading Illuminae, the strangest “book” that I have ever read, told entirely through text messages, IMs, Wikipedia articles, reports, audio transcripts, and more, and entirely no straightforward “book” parts.

This unique format was what really kept me from fully loving the book. First off, world building. Illuminae takes places in the future, year 2575, on two megaships fleeing an attacked planet, which is insane and super cool! However, it was really hard for me to get into it in the beginning and understand what was going on since the format really just throws us into it and gives the reader very little/no background on what the heck is even happening. I finished the book, and I’m still not entirely positive I know what happened. I’m gonna partially attribute that to me not being entirely smart enough to understand science fiction though.

Our two main characters are Kady and Ezra, who were dating, broke up with each other, wanted nothing more to do with each other…and then ended up wanting more to do with each other after, you know, they were forced to flee their planet and all. No biggie. I just loved them both, honestly. Kady is an extremely impressive hacker, and I was always thrilled and excited to see what she was doing! And Ezra was super sweet, and also fun and great to read about!

I really enjoyed the romance/relationship between Kady and Ezra as well. It wasn’t the main focus at the novel, but it was so sweet to see how much they cared about each other and wanted each other safe when the world was going crazy and people were dying. And I really loved the secondary characters and their relationships as well! The friendships that Ezra had particularly were SO FUN, especially seeing the way they played out over text message!

So we have Kady and Ezra, but more importantly, we have AIDAN, the AI who is there to help them…but it might be doing a heck of a lot more harm than help??? Oh my gosh, we got to read from AIDAN’s “point of view” and it was so crazy to see it, and how it justified itself and…ahhh! ESPECIALLY the ending and reveal was so crazy!

With all that being said, the style was really just not working for me. For the first, about 200 pages, I was really bored, and couldn’t get into the story. I wanted to read a novel, but couldn’t help but feel that I was reading a bunch of weird articles and stuff, and wasn’t even sure how to read it! Do I have to read all the email addresses? Who are these screen names? And who the heck is even “talking” here? I almost DNFed in the first half.

I’d say the second half of the book was significantly better since I had gotten used to the style, especially the last 100 pages or so really gripped me and pulled me in. However, since we never got to hear personally from a character and see inside their head/thoughts, it always felt a bit detached for me. I’m a character driven reader, and I would say that Illuminae was more of a plot driven book, and it was harder for me to really get into it and connect without having that deeper connection with the characters.

3 out of 5 explosive space stars

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19 thoughts on “Illuminae Review: An Intense Hodgepodge of Files

  1. The first 200 pages is really confusing haha I feel you, but I really like this book once I get used to read the weird format! Do you plan to read Gemina and Obsidio?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love The Illuminae series so much but the formatting is definitely something hard to get into. I had to put it down the first time I started it because I couldn’t get into it, but it really is an amazing series!

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  3. My main problem was that there wasn’t character depth/development.
    I imagined Kady with shoulder length BROWN hair….It totally threw me overboard when I learnt her hair was pink in the last hundred or so pages.

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  4. AIDAN is seriously the best! I didn’t read the physical copy for the reason the same reason you had a hard time getting into it. I found with the audiobook it was so easy to follow. It’s laid out in a way that really makes you feel like you’re watching a movie with sound effects and everything. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved Illuminae when I picked it up back in April, and I get what you mean with the formatting. At first it really is confusing but I got used to it kind of quickly, but sometimes I still didn’t know what was happening 😂 great review! 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this as much, but I agree with you in that the beginning was confusing and you had to work a little to piece it all together. I really enjoyed every aspect of it, and I was surprised with how much I loved the formatting. What was really fun for me was rereading books one and two before going into book three because you know more of what’s going on and can really follow it a lot easier–I’m definitely going to reread the trilogy later on because I think I’ll really enjoy it knowing all the little things revealed in the later books.

    Liked by 1 person

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