I think Illuminae is going to be a big hit for a lot of readers. It is unique and surprising, honest and funny. If you don’t look at any other YA science fiction book this year, give this one a preview. I doubt you will be able to put it down. It features action, romance, space travel, plague, and some seriously messed up AI.
Illuminae publishes Tuesday, October 20, 2015
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.
Illuminae is a pretty wild ride. I didn’t quite understand what I was getting into with this book, so I was a little surprised by the “found” footage aspect of the narrative. Everything is told through memos, IM messages, surveillance footage, journals, etc. I found it a little difficult to read as an ebook, and I think a print version would be a better reading experience. While this isn’t a format that I particularly enjoy, I do think it was an interesting and innovative presentation, and it truly told the story as well as a traditional narrative style could have. What is the story? Kady thought her breakup was pretty traumatic until the skies opened up on her planet and the bombing began. Then she had to team up with her ex to escape the firestorm. Then the AI on the spaceship leading the rescue fleet got a little too intelligent, and then, well, let’s just say Kady hasn’t seen anything yet. I was sold on the story before I turned a page, but it was so much better than I could ever have anticipated. The biggest draw for me is the action. It increased steadily until it exploded with intensity as the end drew near. I also love how the characters of Kady and her ex, Ezra, make this a book that will appeal to my high school readers of both genders. They bicker and tease, misunderstand and comfort like genuine teenagers. I found them funny and engaging. Their emotions and motivations are ones that will be universally recognizable, and I think anyone who gives this innovative and smart read won’t be able to put it down until they get to the end. There were surprises and little hidden gems throughout. One of my particular favorite things about the book is that whoever is compiling the found footage has been asked to censor mature language, so there are black bars covering all of the swear words my mind filled them in anyway. It was just a nice touch of authenticity. I have already started talking this one up (I couldn’t help myself) to my students, and I can’t wait to get it on the shelves in my classroom library. Language and situations are appropriate for high school and beyond.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.