Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Aime Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I think it's important to mention upfront that sci-fi novels are absolutely not my thing. I am all about romance, people's stories and relationships. These are the things that drive me through a book and engage me. It was therefore with some surprise that I found myself absolutely desperate to delve into Illuminae, a book that falls very firmly into the sci-fi category and not only that but I absolutely loved it. It lived up to every single amazing review I'd seen of it.
This book is such departure from any other book I've ever read. Instead of being written as a straighforward narrative, filled with chapters we have a book full of email conversations, surveillance reports, interviews and printouts from the memory of an enormous Artificial Intelligence computer called AIDAN. and despite it's very hefty size (it is a BIG book) I flew through it in 4 days. I could not put it down, when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it. I was lucky enough to not only have the e-book to digest but also the audiobook and I'd switch between them both and sometimes listen to both in conjunction as the audiobook is done with a whole cast of different narrators playing the different roles in the book and it brought it to life so beautifully. I used this method at the beginning of the book and it really helped to draw me in.
The story is set in the year 2575 where a small outlying 'settlement' in space is attacked by a major company called Bei-Tech who are apparently doing this because their is illegal mining going on. Huge numbers of the residents of Kerenza perish in the attack but some survivors flee into space aboard 3 spacecrafts, the Copernicus, the Hypatia and the Alexander but they are pursued by an enemy ship, the Lincoln who seem intent on their destruction. They must travel across space to a 'jump station' where they will be able to escape but their ship is damaged and the AI, AIDAN, is developing a mind of it's own and they have a journey of almost a year ahead of them and with each day the enemy ships get closer. To add to all their dilemas there is a virus spreading on-board the Copernicus which is rendering it's victims mindlessly violent to the point of murder and there is no way of stopping it's mutation.
The story focuses upon 2 surviving teens, Kady and Ezra, from Kerenza who are travelling on board two separate spaceships, the Hypatia and the Alexander. Boyfriend and girlfriend until the day of the attack they begin communicating with each other via the ships comms and they begin to realise that things are being hidden from them by the crew about the attack on Kerenza and about how dire their position really is. Ezra is recruited as a pilot on board the Alexander whilst Kady, a computer genius, begins hacking into the ships on board computers to locate information about what is being hidden from them.
The book was non-stop action the whole way through. I initially worried about how much detail we could really gain from the writing style and would it almost be emotionless but instead it is rich with emotion and full of wonderful detail about life on board the spacecrafts. There are so many twists and turns that for the first time in a long time this book actually had me shouting out loud "NO WAY did that just happen." Just when you thought it was settling down and you could catch your breath then another twist would come and you'd be right off again on that journey with Ezra and Kady and thinking "this book is amazing"
This books forms part of a trilogy of novels known as The Illuminae Files and I am absolutely going to read the second novel Gemina which is already available and will be in the queue for book 3, Obsidio, when it is released in 2018. As we moved towards the end of Illuminae I began to wonder how on earth we were going to have a second book as the serious peril people were in would mean a whole new cast of characters. I am really keen to see where the author's are going to take the remainder of the series.
I couldn't recommend this book highly enough, if like me sci-fi really isn't your bag then please do not let that put you off. This was one of the most engaging and unique books I have ever read and I imagine it will remain with for a long time to come.