Review Blog

Feb 01 2016

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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The Illuminae Files bk 1. Allen & Unwin, 2015. ISBN 9781760113803
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Science fiction. In the distant future of 2575, at the edge of the universe is a tiny, freezing planet known as Kerenza IV, where a secret mining colony live in relative peace. Then one day, a giant warship appears out of the sky and fires on the colony without warning, killing countless civilians and prompting a full evacuation.
Kady and her ex-boyfriend Ezra barely escape alive onto the rescue fleet, and that's just the start of their problems. With the warship still chasing them down, a mysterious illness spreading among the survivors, the rescue ship's artificial intelligence beginning to wreak havoc, and a possible conspiracy among their ship's command crew, Kady and Ezra will have to work together to uncover the truth.
One of the best facets of Illuminae is its rich, engaging world. The story is told through the unusual form of compiled 'real' documents such as interviews, private journals, emails, and so on. In the wrong hands this style could have easily felt out-of-place or gimmicky, but here it adds another layer of realism that draws the reader in even further.
Another highlight is the characters; they are multifaceted and likeable, but still have realistic flaws, and both Ezra and Kady are very enjoyable to read about. However, since the book is told mostly in third-person perspective 'documents', it's not as easy to relate to Kady and Ezra as it would be if it were a straightforward novel told in first-person.
Similarly, although Illuminae is fascinating because of how it is told - through interviews and the like - this also makes the story lose some of its immediacy. Take for example the opening interview where Kady is discussing her escape from Kerenza IV; while interesting, it lacks the excitement that having it described in present tense would generate - precisely because the reader already knows that Kady is alive to tell the tale, and thus any sense of danger during the scene is lost. Much of the novel is like this, but it's a small price to pay for such an intriguing story.
Illuminae is a page-turning, fascinating adventure of a novel.
Rebecca Adams (university student)

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