Illuminae — Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

March 27, 2017

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

It’s hard enough to break up with the guy you love. It’s even worse to have your planet blown up on the same day. Kady and Ezra are forced to seek shelter in a fleet of warships and carrier craft, bound to an agonizingly unlikely escape route from the enemy organization BeiTech, who are determined to leave no survivors. Let’s just say that teenage drama and intergalactic warfare make for one hell of an uncomfortable combo.

First of all, let me say in advance that I will do my best to avoid spoilers, but it’s hard to do with this one, because, HOLY HELL THOSE TWISTS. The first 100 pages or so of this book were a little slow for me – probably because I don’t read much sci-fi and had a hard time keeping names and locations straight for a while – but once you get past that 100-page mark, this book is nonstop drama, action, and madness. I won’t even bother trying to summarize beyond the sad mini-paragraph you see above, because I genuinely believe the most enjoyable way to read this book would be to go into it knowing as little as possible beforehand.

As far as what I can say: the formatting is incredible. I know I’ve met some people who preferred the audiobook or ebook adaptations because the formatting wasn’t their gig, and I can respect that, but I absolutely adored it and was enthralled by the creativity that went into it. The story is told in alternating segments of military dossiers and debriefings, emails, instant message exchanges, and the very rare third-person narrative from an “analyst” of sorts. This book does not read like a novel whatsoever; it feels like you’re right there with the characters, eavesdropping on their conversations like a proverbial fly on the wall. Sections shift focus from one character to another, but unlike most books of differing POVs, we don’t just see Kady and Ezra’s sides; we also get to experience what many minor side characters go through, as well as the first-person side of an unlikely supporting character whose name will be left unsaid, but who is an utter and complete delight to read from.

The characters are amazing, and lovable, and so endearing in so many ways. Even the characters who we aren’t supposed to like, I found myself eagerly awaiting the appearance of because they were just so. Damn. Enjoyable. They feel like real people, flaws and humor and wit and stupid decisions in all, and a few of them brought on some serious mourning when they passed. The heavy spots of loss and action are broken up with the comedic relief from the third party narrating the occasional segment, as well as the witty banter that frequently goes back and forth between friends and colleagues. I think I found myself laughing more than any other reaction to this book, though it certainly drew its fair share of gasps (and maybe a few tears) from me, too. The second half of this book is just INSANE. I couldn’t put it down for anything, because it was so action-packed and kept me on the edge of my seat right until the last page.

I was so sad to see the book come to an end, and knew long before I reached the back cover that this would be a five-star review from me. This was my first book by Jay Kristoff or Amie Kaufman, but I will absolutely be picking up more titles by each of them. I’m already 100 pages into the sequel, Gemina, and have no doubt that I’ll be giving that book a positive rating, too, because these authors are just a dream duo. There’s no feeling of disconnect that I sometimes get from co-authored books; clearly, they found a solid common ground that allowed this beautiful fluidity in their co-writing. I cannot rave enough about this book and would encourage you, if you haven’t already, to go get a copy right now – from Amazon, your library, a friend, whatever – and get started, because you won’t be sorry.

More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. FINALLY, someone who adores these books as much as I do. I adore the formatting and love all of the imagery it allows you as the reader to experience. The thing with sci-fi is that (at least for me) it’s super hard to picture while I’m reading it. Illuminae and Gemina make it so much easier. I’m hardcore attached to these books.
      My other bookish friends and I have ideas for who we think the analyst is. Do you think their character will be revealed later? Or do you think we’ve already been introduced to them?

      1. Oh, man, they’re stunning! I can’t get enough. I am trying to actually take my time through Gemina, because when I finished Illuminae (I read page 200 through to the end cover in one sitting), I felt so lost, ha. I totally agree that it can be hard to picture sci-fi settings, so it makes it difficult for me as well, but the formatting with the diagrams and all made it feasible for me. I think it’s definitely going to be revealed later, but I’m not sure that we’ve met them yet! I can’t wait to find out!

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