Synopsis from Good Reads:
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.
BRIEFING NOTE: 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 was browsing the clearance shelves at my local bookstore and saw this book on sale for about $6.00. After all the hype surrounding this series I decided it was time for me to FINALLY give it a try.
Illuminae is definitely a book you have to read a hard copy of. It would not be conducive to e-readers and would definitely leave a lot to be desired via audio. The formatting was very cool. It’s all documents and chat logs and graphics and the creators of the book obviously put a lot of thought into the layout and details. I’ll say again, it was very cool. Unfortunately, one very cool element does not a 5 star book make (at least not to me).
While I loved the format, it did not always work for me. There are many official memos and etc. that come across too unprofessional. I think there could’ve been a greater effort made to make them sound more realistic. I also had a huge problem with the video transcripts. The person transcribing them put in way too much detail of the participant’s feelings and thoughts turning it into more of a standard narration than what it should have been (this did have an explanation at the end so I’m not going to go into great detail with the quotes I actually took the time to mark to prove my point – I’ll just say that when I was reading those parts I was annoyed by it). There are also very long parts from AIDEN’s, the computer, POV that came across way too odd for me. They also blacked out all the curse words which at first I thought I would really appreciate, but quickly learned it just brought more attention to them. I found myself filling in the blacked out words anyways, and then sometimes second guessing which curse word I thought it was. This was not a good use of my time.
The plot was repetitive and drawn out. Lots of missiles and computer hacking and teenage angst and zombie-like sickness outbreak. I felt kind of bored during parts of it. However, every time I was thinking that I just didn’t care about what was going on, a character would be killed off and I found myself getting choked up. The character development was actually really well done. I loved Ezra and his kind of obnoxious friend McNulty. I loved Kady’s hacker friend, Zhang. It took me a little longer to warm up to Kady, but I did eventually really root for her, even if I didn’t love her as much as some of the other characters.
Overall, I liked Illuminae, but I didn’t love it. The non-traditional formatting was very cool and is definitely worth picking up an actual hard copy of the book for. However, I don’t understand all the 5-star hype for this run-of-the-mill sci-fi story. That said, it was still an enjoyable read and I plan on continuing the series.
Overall Rating (out of 5): 3 Stars