Illuminae – Review // Unique Format + Evil AI = Favorite

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Book 1 in The Illuminae Files trilogy
Genre: YA sci-fi (science fiction)
Pages: 599
Format: hardcover
Source: bought
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Wow. I wasn’t expecting Illuminae to be nearly as amazing as it was, or to love it as much. Not at all. Wow. *heart eyes emoji*

the plot

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD. It was definitely one of the most unique things I’ve read so far this year. Not only was the format intriguing in a way that had me repeatedly turning pages, but the story was too. I went into this just about blind, knowing only that the characters were named Kady and Ezra, and it took place in space. There was so much more entertainment and depth within the plot, ranging from the threat of death via a hostile spaceship, a plague, the complicated relationship Kady and Ezra had, and the layers AIDAN (the ship’s AI) had. I didn’t see any of it coming, and as is typical in a situation like that, I was BOMBARDED WITH FEELS. (It didn’t make me cry though.) 😉

Also, the illustrations, when they did appear, were absolutely GORGEOUS. Most of the formatting was documents, IMs, and oddly placed text, but there were pictures and I actually tabbed some of them as well as quotes. They’re just so pretty!! *heart eyes emoji*

The science vessel Hypatia was situated about 4,000 klicks aft of the Alexander. Now she’s a “she.” Beautiful ship, chum. Lines like poetry. She doesn’t move in space, she dances in it. Asks you to take her hand and close your eyes and fly with her.

the characters

As many others have said, I was slightly worried the format the story was told through would distance me from the characters. To my surprise and delight, though, I loved both of them immediately. As in, the very beginning of the interview that kicks off Theo story, immediately. I LOVE KADY AND EZRA INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A COUPLE. They’re both so snarky and sarcastic and fabulous. Kady was an extremely skilled hacker and Ezra a military pilot, and they both hid their sensitivity beneath arrogant exteriors. It’s something I’ve read a million times, but with them it was different in a way I can’t exactly pinpoint. ❤

“Oh, poor baby. Did I hurt the mass-murdering psychopathic artificial intelligence’s feelings?” – Kady

“You deserve every star in the galaxy laid out at your feet and a thousand diamonds in your hair. You deserve someone who’ll run with you as far and as fast as you want to. Holding your hand, not holding you back.” – Ezra

(The format didn’t stop me from loving them, but because of it I’ll have to stop here to make sure the review stays spoiler-free.) 😉

Then there’s AIDAN. I don’t know where to start with him. It. I have to keep remind me that AIDAN is an “it.” For the first half, roughly, it was shut down. Then it was restarted, and I had a feeling it had evil ulterior motives or something. I mean, what else do AIs do in stories other than mess with the MC(s)? Then it was alone with Kady and I started to like it. I’m not sure what happened to it in the end, but against my better judgement I was kind of in love with it. (I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said that while referring to a character, haha.)

“Am I not merciful?” – AIDAN

(Funny story: whenever I’m talking about AIDAN I say “he” or “him” instinctually and then have to stop to correct myself. AIDAN is an “it.” Not really funny but there you go.)

the setting

I loved the diagrams of the different ships placed throughout the book. It helped me imagine what the basics of what they looked like, and then I put the rest together on my own. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I pictured the Hypatia as a small, delicate, pretty ship and the Alexander as an enormous monster. I would think that’s intended, but I don’t know. It’s what stuck in my head, so it’s what I’m going with. 🙂

the relationships

Kady and Ezra’s relationship was a mess and for most of the story I wasn’t sure what to categorize it as. Not romance, not friendship, not enemies…allies? Yes, but not good enough. Supporters? Sure. But as the story evolved, so did they. Their feelings for each other never went away, they were just hidden, and soon they became steady friends again. I have a feeling their romance will become what it was prior to the start of the story. The end certainly hinted at it. 😀

the twists

The twists in this book remind me of the game Mario Kart. You get going, everything is going well, you’re in first place, then you get hit with a shell, causing you to fall behind, and just as you catch up, it happens all over again. I say this because a similar process was used in the story: everything is great, then BOOM, bad news and feels, and just as you’re getting over that it repeats. This fits the second half especially well. I didn’t see any of those (or any other) twists coming, and I needed to know what happened. I needed to know if AIDAN went evil, and if Kady and Ezra made it out of everything alive. Amie and Jay were messing with me, and they did a freaking amazing job. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to applaud them for that or not, but I will anyway. 😛 *shrugs* *clapping emoji*


So overall, if you couldn’t tell, I loved Illuminae. It’s so unique, and definitely a new favorite. ❤ I’m really glad that I chose Gemina as one of my ARCs from Penguin.* I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT. MORE KADY AND EZRA. AND AIDAN. 😀

*That was the prize for winning the trivia challenge during B&N Teen Fest. You got put on the ARC mailing list for Penguin for the next year, and got to request any one ARC. 🙂

my rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! 🙂

I’m off to start Catalyst by Lydia Kang. 😀 I hope you’re all having a fabulous day/night! ❤

Until next time…

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5 thoughts on “Illuminae – Review // Unique Format + Evil AI = Favorite

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! I read it in January and was head over heels for it. The formatting was fantastic and helped the stories in a million ways I hadn’t imagined. I didn’t know much going into this book, either, not even the characters names, actually. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t expect to love this book anywhere near as much as I thought either! I don’t read that much SciFi – off the top of my head all I can think of is this and The 5th Wave – but this easily amazed me. I adore the formatting, that’s what sold it for me. I don’t think I’d have even picked it up if it was just a normal book! Lovely review – I’m so glad you loved this as much as I did! Can’t wait for Gemina ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t read a bunch of sci-fi either, but I do like it. One of my other favorites is the Across The Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. 😀 And honestly, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up either if it was a normal book! The hype didn’t convince me to read it, the format did. XD

      Liked by 1 person

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