ARC Review – Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

23395680Title:  Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Rating:  ★★★ 1/2 /  ★★★★

Synopsis: 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.

Huge thank you to  Knopf Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

 

Huge thank you to Knopf Books for Young Readers & Netgalley for this ARC!

I feel like Illuminae the book that all the bloggers are raving about, and I’m going to be real here: I merely liked it. When you’ve played enough science fiction video games, or watched or read enough classic science fiction, the plot in this story is far from original. Illuminae at times reads like a love letter to old school science fiction, but it also has the problem of style over substance.

I’m going to be real here, I don’t mind books that use an abstract style to tell its story. There’s books that for me did an amazing job such as Blood & Guts in High School and others where I hated every second of it (see House of Leaves). Since the story is told through dossiers, it’s an interesting concept because the story has all this tension and you start to see the growth of the crisis that exists aboard the ship. I’d even argue that the portrayal of space madness through the use of the dossiers is one the best I’ve seen in a long time, but it doesn’t make up for the fact that the world building in Illuminae is sadly paper thin.

The reader is forced to accept so much at face value because of the style of the story, but there’s all these larger holes that don’t get filled in, leaving the reader to guess how or why aspects of this story are happening. That’s the main issue here: the use of abstractions in the story don’t allow for real world building to be provided. The format also is somewhat problematic if only because you get pulled into the narrative and then immediately sucked out of it when there’s a picture or a random advertisement. Again, I get why it’s being done, but truthfully I didn’t enjoy it nor did I find it successful.

The first 1/3 of this book for me was just very bland and boring. It took me awhile to get into the story and once the space madness started to hit the ships I found myself on board and the book became a page-turner. I think the way in which Kaufman and Kristoff show tension and anxiety in space is so spot on, and I like the way that through the dossiers you get this sense that everything has gone sour. I also appreciate the two classic science fiction plot twists that were thrown into the story, even if they were predictable both times. I still like that specific plot twist, and I do think it works well here.

I also wanted a bit more characterization. Kady in particular gets so much development, and I adored her character. I loved how sassy, strong-willed and reckless she is, but I found Ezra to be lacking in the character department. I didn’t see what was so great about him, nor did I feel the connection of him as the love interest. There was no pull for me at all. I will say, I LOVED Byron, and I thought he was far better developed than Ezra was. But let’s be real here, there’s not a lot of character development and the stylistic choice is a major part of why it’s lacking.

Here’s the deal: I liked and enjoyed my time with Illuminae. Once I got 1/3 of the way through the story, I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I had to see how it ended. I actually adored the ending, but overall Illuminae is a story I’ve read and seen numerous times before and sadly done better. However, I do think this book is worth checking out, especially if you aren’t the biggest science fiction fan, because I think those are the people who will get the most out of the big reveals and surprises within the story. Still, Illuminae is a fun read, and I will be checking out its sequel, but admittedly I wanted more from it.

River’s Review:

I am SO happy that I didn’t have to read this on my iPad. The format of this book is amazing and I loved it. To be honest the story wasn’t really THAT amazing, and I would have liked a lot more background and world building, but the format blew me away. And that is what I loved about this book. Pages with casualty names. Cute children’s posters with horrific graffiti scrawled over it. Swoops of text illustrating missiles or fights in space. I love some of the empty pages or pages with one word on them best. I did get a little tired of reading chats between characters, but thankfully they were broken up with enough other things. And I did appreciate that there WERE sections that were in more traditional novel formats. The whole mix of everything just worked so well for me.

I did see a few… idk if they were allusions or shout-outs or what, to other popular scifi work. I didn’t mind this, but for some reason I kept picturing this taking place in the Battlestar Gallactica world with a dash of Firefly thrown in. Thus I would have liked some more unique world building.

I really liked the ending and I didn’t see it coming and I can’t wait for the next one now (whenever that will be hahahah).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s