I like new ways to read – and for me, that list was basically narrowed down to reading on a kindle, listening to an audiobook, and reading novellas/short stories. Basically, I liked finding new ways of reading to break up the long periods of reading large physical books. Kindle meant that I could download books cheaply and travel with many books at the same time without weighing down the plane. Audiobooks meant that I could listen whilst walking, or just before going to bed but giving my eyes a rest. Novellas and short stories let me feel accomplished for having finished reading something in its entirety, but in a remarkably shorter time period, so I could pick up things I may not like just to try and not feel indebted to give up hours and hours of my life.
Illuminae became one of these ‘new ways to read’. A sci-fi read composed of different documents, like records, transcripts of conversations, summaries of footage seen, and so much more. This book was so unexpected for me, and I was absolutely hooked from the very first page.
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.
I lifted the above blurb from Goodreads because, honestly, their description makes this book sound so much better than some other retailers. I was at first hesitant to pick up this book, having had more disappointments from the YA genre than anything else recently, but I am so glad that I did decide to give it a chance. It has the combination of the classic YA – teenagers, love, angst, drama beyond belief – but it was in this brilliant sci-fi setting with perfectly constructed characters that shone through the format of reports and interviews, a fantastic plot, and just so much that I can’t even say.
Basically, words fail me when it comes to this book.
There is brilliant wit and humour throughout the book, and the opening pages won me over in a heartbeat. To summarise without spoiling, Kady and Ezra are interviewed about their experience of their planet being attacked and how they escaped. Yet these are two teenagers, who are more caught up with their own drama to really give a damn about the official interviewers, and just emanate the typical teenage ‘leave me the hell alone’ vibe. I loved it.
Once you get into the story, you barely notice the format and just enjoy the narrative. It was surprisingly not distracting to switch from one format to the next, and once the plot starting travelling at warp speed, nothing was going to stop me from devouring this book. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, but I will highlight from the blurb that there is a mysterious plague that is attacking the ships, there is dissent amongst the people in charge, and the AI they depend on can’t be trusted. And that ending? Those final chapters? I was crying, feeling sick, generally feeling traumatised, and when it finally ended I had to lie down for a while. Then I was back online to find out when the sequel was out.
Five stars without doubt. This was my perfect kind of book, and I’m so happy that I gave it a shot. Don’t let the YA attachment to this book put you off, because it is such great fun – who cares if it’s about teenagers? Reading is about enjoying the experience, and nobody – I repeat nobody – can tell you what you can or can’t read.
Take that, haters.