Title: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files_01)
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Publication date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 600
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
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.
I started reading this book in an airport on my way to a Thanksgiving celebration. I had seen the cover advertised around bookstores and I’m a Science Fiction fan, but I was wary because of the mixed reviews the book got on Goodreads. Still, I picked up Illuminae, and holy cow, I ended up tearing through the 600 pages within a day and a half! (It’s the fastest I’ve read anything that long since Harry Potter!)
Illuminae is told in a unique narrative style of virtual messages, military files, emails, and surveillance video transcript. The setting is onboard three starships carrying refugees from a mining settlement planet that got invaded by the corporation BeiTech. BeiTech set loose a deadly airborne virus, which is now set loose on the ships and is turning people into crazed zombies. The BeiTech fighters are also chasing the three ships, and the Artificial Intelligence (AI) system onboard the ships has gained consciousness and is now having second thoughts about saving the lives of the humans who created it.
Whew. Sound like a lot?
When there wasn’t action, there was humor between the two main characters Kady and Ezra, who were once dating but broke up and are now trying to survive and keep each other safe despite being on different ships. When there wasn’t humor, there was heart twisting pain coming from the refugees and those afflicted by the deadly virus. When there wasn’t pain, there were chills running down my spine from the AI’s thoughts. This book kept me on the edge of my seat and kept me guessing, and had me engrossed in the universe from the start.
One aspect I felt was lacking was the worldbuilding. The story takes place in 2575; how has humanity developed? Besides obvious space travel and planet development, what has happened? I didn’t really get a feel for that. One other thing that irked me was the ending. Unfortunately, I can’t say too much because it would be spoilers, but just know it’s not what you would expect.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it more or less restored my faith in the YA genre.