Started: 8th January 2018
Finished: 12th January 2018
Rating: 5/5 Stars
I first read Illuminae around this time last year and frankly I was a bit sceptical at the time. I was only vaguely familiar with the two authors behind it, having read Amie Kaufman’s – and Meagan Spooner’s! – These Broken Stars, which I enjoyed and Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight, which didn’t click with me (If I’m honest, I think I was just in a grumpy mood when I read it. It warrants a reread). It ended up being one of the best books I read in 2017. Like, honestly, this book is on HOLY SHIT levels of writing.
Illuminae is an utterly unique book. If I had to liken it to anything, I’d say it’s perfect for fans of Homestuck or John Dies at the End and if you’re already an Illuminae fan you might enjoy those in turn. The book starts out in the fallout of the epic breakup of highschool sweethearts Kady Grant and Ezra Mason. Then their planet is blown up.
As refugees aboard two different ships, they get in touch with each other as the final lifelines to their old lives. They also find themselves quickly thrown in to their new roles aboard their respective ships – Ezra gets drafted as a military pilot and Kady is wise enough to keep her skills as a hacker secret. It’s with these skills that she unearths the horrible truths the ships governing body are trying to cover up.
Imagine a zombie flick set in, essentially, a series of tin cans floating through deep space. Add an overly-powerful AI to the mix and now you have a rough idea of what to expect out of Illuminae. What makes Illuminae so utterly different to other sci-fi, however, is it’s incredible use of page layout. Most the conversations between characters take place over instant messaging, other parts are written as though someone is watching and summarising found footage. Several pages of the book are in ascii and other pages, particularly later in the book, are nothing short of art. The author’s also use this style of writing to build suspense in an utterly unique way that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your seat – or, if you’re like me, messaging your friends illegible keyboard smashes at 3 in the morning because something WONDERFUL and TERRIBLE just happened.
A reread was due in light of the finale, Obsidio, coming out in March – oh guys, I’m hype as hell. Illuminae is an a jawdropping book full of some of the most heartstopping plot twists and held together with one hell of a cast of characters. Of course with it being a reread, I knew the plot twists were coming but catching the little hints about them throughout the narrative that I missed the first time was a total pleasure in itself. A 5 star rating doesn’t feel like enough – Illuminae deserves ‘every star in the galaxy.’