Book reviews

Review: Illuminae

Excuse me for cheating a little here but I’m going to pinch Marie Lu’s review that graces the front cover of this book:

“Never have I read a book so wholly unique and utterly captivating”

When I was browsing YouTube back in January for recommendations towards the book haul I was planning, I came across a couple of different people gushing over Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Their reviews of the highly dramatic sci-fi plot told in a non-traditional format piqued my curiosity and so I decided to add it to my purchases. I can safely say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

The story begins on Kerenza IV, a small ice-covered planet being mined by the Wallace Ulyanov Consortium for its high concentrations of hermium. It’s just another day at high school for Kady Grant and Ezra Mason (well, as normal as it can be following their break-up that morning) when four dreadnaughts from the rival mining company BeiTech arrive out of nowhere and start blowing the colony to smithereens. Cue chaos.

Thankfully three spacecraft are able to rescue as many inhabitants of the planet as they are able to hold, and so the race begins to the closest wormhole station with the one remaining enemy ship on their heels. If that wasn’t challenging enough, there’s also the added problems of an insane on-board artificial intelligence system and a deadly virus causing the refugees to turn on each other and the ship crew.

Throughout the madness Kady and Ezra fight for survival in a hostile environment where secrets, cover-ups and lies are rife. It’s a good job they have each other for support… if only they weren’t on separate spacecrafts.

This story had me well and truly gripped, so much so that I read the vast majority of it in one day. Full of drama, horror and a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure, I couldn’t get enough of it. But for me the best feature was the way that the story is told. Emails, CCTV transcripts and incident reports are just some of the devices used as opposed to normal narrative prose. Text placement is also played with, leading to the need to rotate the book around to follow the sentences. Some of my favourite (and least spoilerish) pages are as follows:

I really can’t recommend this book enough. I even went as far as rating it 5 stars on Goodreads, something that doesn’t happen very often. Give it a try and let me know what you think. In the mean time, I’ll be here waiting impatiently for the second book in the series to be released in October.

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