Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff follows Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, two teenagers who have recently broken up. When two rival mega corporations fight over their inhabited planet, they are forced to evacuate on a fleet with an enemy warship in pursuit. Things get more complicated when a spreading plague mutates and the AI designed to protect them may actually be their enemy. As more and more information is revealed, Kady realizes there may be only one person she can trust: her ex who she had recently broken up with.
Illuminae is uniquely told told through logs, documents, and transcripts. I was surprised at how cohesive the story was with the different writing style. Even with all he documents and having paragraphs only in surveillance logs, Kristoff and Kaufman do a great job of keeping the story together. As I wrote in the opening paragraph, there is a good amount of events happening at once. It seems as if they tried to jam a bunch of traditional sci-fi conflicts into one book. The plague mutation alone could be the main conflict in another book. Wisely, Kaufman and Kristoff decided to focus on one central problem, using the others to complement the main problem. They do a fantastic job of moving the plot. However, I find that the book takes a little bit for the book to pick up. About the first 100-200 pages are to build the world and set up the story. But once it gets past that phase, the action never stops. It is a nonstop thrill ride till the end of the book.
Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are badasses. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. They are well written characters who have to deal with the constantly changing conditions. The way they react is real. The dialogue between them is real. I could actually imagine teenagers saying that to one another. The moments they have together feel earned. Kaufman and Kristoff take the time to set things up between them, to carefully progress their relationship, instead of rushing it. I was surprised at how much development Kady and Ezra received considering the unique approach to writing and the authors should be acknowledged for it. The supporting characters of the book are well done as well. AIDAN is one of my favorite characters in the book. Yes, the AI is one of my favorite characters in the book. His or…its interactions with Kady are great and their chemistry slowly develop as the story moves on. There is an actual arc to it, actual character development instead of a traditional AI villain. By the end, you begin to feel for AIDAN and that is fairly hard to do with something that has no physical presence.
There is really no big flaw that I can find in Illuminae besides its slow start. I mean the plot is something we have seen before, but it is executed extremely well and in a way that I have never seen before. The main characters are well written,well rounded, felt real, and badasses. After the slow start, it continues at a breakneck pace and from then on it keeps getting better and better. If you are looking for a YA that deviates from the regular formula, look no further than Illuminae.
Rating: 5/5 stars