Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Illuminae

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
The Illuminae Files #1
Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books

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.
*An ARC was provided by Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

Illuminae is a book that everyone and their mother has heard about by now right? I mean, even if you're living under a rock, the buzz for this one has most certainly made it's way to your rock. I still remember hitting up BEA15 last year and this bad boy was EVERYWHERE.  It had posters, tables filled with copies...even the freaking staircase was done up Illuminae-style.  For real:


Upon getting my hands on the gorgeous hardback ARCs they were handing out, I remember thinking: there is NO WAY that this book could possibly live up to the mad hype. So I tucked it away for the moment and set my expectations as low as possible. That is...until the reviews started rolling in. Naturally, the ridiculous praise it was garnering made me weary, but I also knew that, yeah, I was going to have to read this one as soon as possible. 

And so here we are -  I've finally joined the hordes and read Illuminae.  As thick as it is, I read it in three sittings and in less than a week's time.  Granted, due to it's unique format, many of the pages have very little in the way of text, but the rate I read it should speak to one important aspect of this book: it is ridiculously addictive and compulsively readable.  While it's true that the found-footage-style of this book won't be for everyone - personally, I was slightly confused by it all at first...there were so many ship names + crew names + nicknames + computer names to remember at first - but I just went with it and eventually it all sort of fell into place...only to be blown apart, by one twist after another.  Reading this book, my eyes were constantly bulging out of my head.  I yelled HOLY SHIT and WHAT THE FUCK out loud to myself on multiple occasions.  Whenever I was forced to stop reading for things like sleep, food or to spend time with the boyfriend, my mind kept consistently going over what I just read - or wondering what the hell would happen next. This book is a mind-fuck, pure and simple and a brilliantly executed one at that!

I won't go into any of the finer plot details, because Illuminae is a book best left a mystery until you're ready to read it for yourself.  I didn't even read the blurb until after I finished the book, but if you're curious, I recommend reading the blurb, as it reveals nothing but the bare minimum of what to expect. The plot itself wasn't terribly confusing, you just need to allow yourself some time to get your bearings and to acclimatise yourself to the format at hand.  Taken separately, certain aspects of the story were familiar - the AI specifically was reminiscent of the one in I, Robot, some of its dialogue had shades of the movie Gladiator (''Am I Not Merciful?'')...similarly, the romance took a while to grow and develop, but the way every aspect comes together is what makes this book so explosive!

Illuminae features more twists that I can even count. When the first big one rolled around, I was completely floored.  And then the hits just keep coming.  The AI, the Virus, the countdowns to explosions, meltdown, destruction, death ...<error>, <error>...GAH!  This is a book that should be read for the experience alone: it is unlike any other book out there.  It will consume you, destroy you, scare the crap out of you, break you, and leave you begging for more!  Fans of sci-fi and wholly-original stories should absolutely check this one out.  Just be ready to have your entire life ruined in the process.

38 comments:

  1. Great review and totally agree. It's a thrill ride with a dark undercurrent (the virus stuff) and I really liked the tension of were they going to make it before the corporate ship caught up. And I think the book shifts into overdrive in the second half when everything just goes crazy. :)

    I liked Kady a lot, and while I didn't love the AI as much as some reviewers did, I enjoyed the book as a whole. It really is a trip and all the little observations and stuff they had was kinda interesting- I remember thinking a few times how many spies did they have on the ship or where did they get that information? LOL.

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    1. Thanks Greg^^ It was a TOTAL thrill ride with a seriously creepy undertone - the virus almost reminded me of like, living-zombies o.O And the tension was definitely intense throughout with the corporate ship and all that! And you're right: the second half totally just takes it to a whole other level XD

      I really like Kady and Ez but I wasn't loving the AI - he freaked me out to be honest. I was wondering about how they got all that intel too haha! Such a unique read!!

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  2. I swear I am the only person in the entire world who could not get into this one... whatever it was it just didnt work for me. But I love that so many people are in love with this one and I'm glad it was a hit for you. Great review!

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    1. I can understand that Teresa because at first I really wasn't sure. I was confused and when I get confused, I get frustrated real fast. Luckily eventually it all gelled together and then it was smooth sailing. Sorry it didn't work out for you though. Thanks ♥

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  3. Wow, it definitely sounds intense! I know I have this one on my to-read list but you make me want to jump on it as soon as I can. It sounds like I may want to wait until I have a good long weekend to devote to reading it though. Thanks for an excellent review :D

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    1. It was BEYOND intense Jaclyn^^ it like, crossed over into INSANE. I really do hope you get a chance to devote the time to it soon - I'd love to compare notes with you :D

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  4. Oooh... I am glad that you enjoyed it! I have meaning to get myself a copy and giving it a try. It really does sound good, and your review has sold me!

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    1. Oh I hope you get yourself a copy soon Naomi^^ I hope you'll love it as much as I did :D Thanks!!

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  5. I'm so, so happy to hear that you enjoyed this, Micheline! The hype has indeed been intense for this one, but I feel so much more confident about picking it up knowing that it was such an awesome read for you. I'm looking forward to how unique it is and will interrogate you via Twitter when I inevitably get confused, lol!

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    1. Thank you my friend ♥ The hype is actual madness but it turns out it was warranted! I wasn't sure at first there but soon enough I was compulsively turning pages like a mad woman XD I can not WAIT to chat all about with you - bring on the Twitter assault LOL!

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  6. Wasn't this one so much fun?! Looks like you and I gave it the same rating. The story was fun as hell even though it didn't blow my mind or anything, but I was just really surprised at how much the visuals added to it! Especially considering I was so skeptical that it might all be a gimmick :P I gotta say it really worked though, I was so addicted I just kept turning the pages. And yes, they went all out in promoting this book, didn't they!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

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    1. Oh it was a total BLAST Mogsy! Cool :D My minor issues with originality took a backseat pretty quick when those twists and turns started taking over. I was really skeptical about this one too initially but man did it ever deliver! Yeah, the promotion for this one was madness but at least it lived up to the hype!

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  7. Realy great review! I'm so excited about this book it has been on my TBR list for a few weeks now and I think I'm just finally going to order it online as soon as I can :)

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    1. Thanks Crystal!! Oh I hope you can get your hands on a copy REAL soon - I'd love to read your thoughts on it :)

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  8. I couldn't read your review, Micheline, since I haven't read my own copy of Illuminae yet. I plan to do it soon, though, but there's always another book that kind of pushes its way up on my TBR shelf :) I'm really happy you loved it, though!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Totally understandable Lexxie^^ Hopefully you manage to find room for it soon, I can't wait to compare notes with you :D Thank you!! ♥

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  9. Those stairs at BEA were something! Random House went all out for this book. I adored it! It was so unique and CRAZY! Gemina could not come soon enough.

    Lovely review, Micheline!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

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    1. Those were INTENSE^^ They really did and I was worried that the hype would kill this one for me but I am SO GLAD it didn't! It was totally nuts, in the best possible way! And I'm with you: I NEED Gemina like air!! Thanks Alyssa! x

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  10. yesss Illuminae was so good! A true masterpiece! It did get hard to remember some of the names and details at times, and occasionally it took me a while to figure out how to read a page, but other than that it was brilliant! The twists were mind blowing. I can't wait for Gemina!

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    1. Seriously though^^ the format, the mystery, the suspense...EVERYTHING. It was all brilliant! I was worried that not remember all the ship/name details would muck me up but in the end it all just worked. WE NEED GEMINA SO BAD!!

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  11. YAY! I'm so so glad you loved this one too Micheline! I'm with you. It was a little hard to grasp at first, but then things just fell into place and man that shit was crazy. LOL.

    I'm so glad I'm not the only who blurts out expletives at books. Just saying! :D

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    1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was confused at the start there...I was getting worried but it's like you said: at one point everything just fell into place and then the shit hit the fan. Repeatedly. LOL!

      Oh man, you're talking to a fellow book abuser with the mouth of a well educated sailor!! XD

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  12. I keep seeing this one everywhere, but I've yet to be that interested in it - having read your review, though, I may have to check it out! I love it when books take a risk with the way they're formatted and do something different, so this should be a really interesting reading experience. I'll be keeping my eye on it - great review, Micheline!

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    1. We all have books like that Jess, no worries. I'd be curious to see if it would win you over though if/when you decide to pick it up :) This one definitely takes a risk with the formatting and the CRAZY twists! Thanks^^

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  13. Wow those people take stairs very seriously XD Also, this review was both hilarious and brilliant! Like seriously, I’m trying super hard not to open a new tab and go on the book depository right now XD I’ve had the book on my wishlist for a while now and reading this review has only increased my excitement for it. I don’t read lots of sci-fi but the format of the book itself intrigues me. I’m not supposed to buy more books this month but gosh Micheline, that was a damn excellent review!!!

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    1. LOL! Crazy right?! Thank you Soudha! You'll have to let me know when you do go on TBD to order it - whether it's this month or on the coming months^^ I'd be curious to see how you make out with it as someone who isn't all that into sci-fi. There should be enough suspense/adventure/romance to win you over! Thanks girl ♥

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  14. I loved this one too. I agree about all the twists. I can't remember another time where I was so surprised and shocked continuously in one story. Those stairs at BEA have become a tradition of sorts. I'm always so excited to find out what makes it to the stairs.

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    1. I always love the stairs too Nori but this was the first time that the stairs were combined with SO MUCH MORE promotion! This book was EVERYWHERE. There were stacks of it all over and posters and everything O.O I'm glad you loved this one too in any case, the twists were insane and like you, I was blown away continually!

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  15. Omgggg you noticed the Gladiator thing too!! I honestly wondered if that was intentional??? Because I mean, I LOVED Illuminae, but I felt weird that they stole that line out of Gladiator since it was a pretty big deal for the movie? Ah but whatever. :P I LOVED THE BOOK BASICALLY. I spent the first 200 pages freaking out because I didn't get it and I was so so confused...but after that. <3 And I have a very soft spot for AIDEN. XD

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    1. I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE!! I wondered if the authors did it on purpose too^^ like, it's SUCH a definitive moment in Gladiator...for it to become just as significant here. I don't know, it was weird. But like you said, I still LOVED Illuminae regardless! Same here! I was confused for the first bit and then FREAKING OUT over the twists and craziness! Yeah, Aiden freaked me the fuck out at first but then he totally grew on me XD

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  16. Fabulous review! Like you, I was sure that the hype was just hype (I mean, they were practically throwing the ARCs at people haha), and it would end up being "just another book", but WOW, I was wrong! This book is just mind blowing. The execution of it alone is genius, but then to throw in an amazing storyline to boot... I am just in AWE of the authors! Hopefully Gemina is just as amazing!

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    1. Thank you so much Shannon! They were basically chucking those copies at us, you're right LOL! Yeah, I've never been more glad to be wrong here too^^ The book was super unique, but the execution as you said is where it REALLY shines! I was 1000% blown away - here's hoping Gemina delivers just the same :D

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  17. " This is a book that should be read for the experience alone: it is unlike any other book out there." This. While I did have a few issues with the characters and romance I definitely agree with everything else. I'm really curious to see where this series will go. Nice review! :)

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    1. I'll admit that I was skeptical about the romance at first too - but the way it evolved along with the plot and everything else eventually won me over! I can NOT wait for Gemina now!! Thanks Alise^^ ♥

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  18. Ah excellent! Your thoughts on all the plot twists and mind-fucks of this one really reminds me of the only book from Amie Kaufman I've read so far - These Broken Stars - except from the sounds of it, this one might be even MORE twisty! I can't wait to read this - I'm mean, I've been wanting to read it since all the aforementioned buzz at BEA, but reading your review now seals it. It's exactly the kind of book I'm in the mood for, so I should check if my library has a copy in!

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    1. I still need to read These Broken Stars but if there's twists and mind-fucks to be had, especially at this caliber, than I am even in more of a rush to read that one now! Admitedely, I wasn't sure if it'd work for me at first amidst the confusion but as soon as things clicked, I was SOLD. I can't wait to compare notes with you!!

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  19. I felt myself nodding my head yes while reading your whole review. Everything you did I did as well. I need per it St BEA then it sat until like a few weeks ago. The hype was correct. I listened to the audio cause I just do that better sometimes and I was worried I would miss out on the print but I have to say I was very pleased. It was a full cast with sound effects and all. I did skim thru the book on top of it. I have been trying to write this review and I just manage the words. Lol great review girl!
    ❤️Britt @ please feed the bookworm

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  20. I'm really glad you liked this so much. I haven't written my review yet - I should really get on it - but I didn't like it as much as others did. :( Eh, what can you do, not all books are for everyone!
    I liked the unique formatting, but I wished for a more personal POV sometimes, I felt that all these reports failed to really grasp Kady's and Ezra's feelings or something. I don't even know. And I thought a lot of the violence was there just for the shock factor - I went into the story completely blind, like you did, and I didn't really know it would involve that much gore. But that's my problem, because I don't like horror, and I'm sure a lot of people appreciated that.

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