Honestly, we can’t repeat most of our immediate reactions to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae. However, we can confirm that a lot of it began with “What the…”!
Kady Grant isn’t expecting much from her day except a bitter breakup with Ezra Mason… and then her home planet of Kerenza is attacked by BeiTech Industries. Barely escaping with their lives, Kady finds herself on a scientific ship, Hypatia, while Ezra is fleeing the planet alongside her on a battleship, Alexander. But BeiTech isn’t willing to leave survivors, following close behind in their massive warship, the Lincoln. With communications down and months until they’ll reach help, Kerenza’s ragtag fleet prepares for war– a war Ezra is enlisted to serve in.
It quickly becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. When the Alexander’s artificial intelligence system, AIDAN, destroys the third ship in the fleet, Copernicus, Kady knows civilians are in trouble no matter what the leaders on board say. She’s smarter than they think and fiesty to boot, so it isn’t long before Kady and Ezra are involved in a conspiracy for the ages, risking their lives to protect the surviving residents of Kerenza.
That description may be vague, but this book has everything. War! Gut-wrenching moments! Adventures in space! Insane artificial intelligence! Wickedly enjoyable characters! THE WORLD’S MOST INSANE VIRUS!
Also, meet your new favorite catchphrase:
“Am I not merciful?”
This needs to get popular enough that we can troll our friends with it. So get on that, YA readers!
What really sets the story apart is the format. Kaufman and Kristoff piece together the tale through a series of government reports, emails, online messaging, statistics, testimonies (complete with redacted statements), and more. No more first person vs third person debate because OMG WHAT IS THIS? You never know what you’re going to read next, but the story is still cohesive and entrancing! Not to mention that this story has some serious flair, turning words into designs and giving details through art.
Kady is the smart, snarky, effortless heroine. She doesn’t have complex and she doesn’t need to prove herself, she just goes out and does what needs to be done because that’s how she rolls. Ezra is ultra charming in that teen boy way, still a little goofy but always looking to be a part of the action and do what’s right.
Kady and Ezra’s teen romance is realistic and fun despite their intergalactic circumstances. They interact like real teens and nothing feels cheap or overly angst-ridden. It’s a balance you don’t get in many novels.
Overall, this story is just FUN. It keeps you on your toes, flipping from page to page at top speed not only to find out what happens next, but to take in all the visual delights along the way. It’s an absolute rip-roaring kickass adventure with amazing world-building, killer characters (That’s only literal in some cases!), and non-stop action. Obviously, we freakin’ love it!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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