Published by Knopf
Title: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: October 20, 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Synopsis: This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.
First, I have to let you know that I listened to the audiobook, and boy oh boy, am I ever glad that I did. It is absolutely the best audiobook I’ve heard in a very, very long time. Science fiction stories for me are never about the inevitable galactic wars or Death Star-like weapons. The best stories are about the people that inhabit these worlds and their similarities to our own situations. Mega-corporations behind a deadly attack? Even in our world, cyber-hacking is a form of corporate warfare, so this was a logic-jump I easily made.
Amie and Jay capture this world perfectly in their large cast of characters (don’t worry, you will easily keep track of them), which center around Kady and Ezra. I cannot say enough about these two. They are simply EVERYTHING that is right and perfect in this story. I, especially, sympathized with Kady. She had that stark determination that allows her to never, ever, ever give up even when the odds seem impossible.
I want to say something about AIDAN, the artificial intelligence on board. This particular character type never gets old for me. HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey is such a chilling antagonist. My heart always leaps when I see R2D2, the true hero of Star Wars. And then you have the omniscient telescreens in 1984. AIDAN plays such an important character in this story, and without any spoilers, you can never be too sure if he’s being helpful or if he’s not. That left me second guessing throughout, which made the stakes in the story so much higher.
So, as I kept listening and trying to figure out the “what’s next” moments, there was a “WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT” moment in a giant, giant plot twist that I DID NOT SEE COMING. Nope, not one inkling. I might’ve been more than a little panicked, and it was good that I was parked at my kid’s school and not driving around the city when this part came on. HOLY TOLEDO. What a moment. I immediately ran to twitter to express my anxiety. I couldn’t believe what occurred and I almost couldn’t bring myself to finish the story, because my heart was beating way too fast.
But, finish it I did, and I’m so glad that I did. Amie and Jay, I hope you write that sequel really fast because there will be many readers who will need to know what happens next in that crazy-good world you’ve created.
A quick aside regarding the design of the book. Yes, it’s thick but it’s written in so many different styles — a journal, documents, transcripts. I guarantee that you will turn those pages quicker than you every have. The design worked perfectly for the flow of the story. And the audiobook with it’s cast of actors captured the pages perfectly. It was like listening to the audio feed of a movie. Speaking of which, Brad Pitt and Warner Brothers have optioned Illuminae for a movie. I can hardly wait. This is one story that begs to be on the big screen.