ARC Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

IlluminaeTitle: Illuminae

Authors: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Genre: YA, Sci-Fi, Romance

Source: E-Galley from the publisher through NetGalley

I received a free egalley of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects the integrity of my review.


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 one of the 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.

1. Let’s start simple: the layout of this book is so insane.

This is told through a dossier of documents. There are interviews, instant messages, recorded conversations, and reports from different individuals. At first, it’s a little weird, but as soon as you get used to it, you wonder how you’ve read books any other way. This was the strangest layout I’ve ever seen but that is NOT a bad thing. It’s amazing. It immerses you so much into the story that you feel like you’re a part of it. There are diagrams of the ships, maps, posters from the ships, etc. When I first heard about this layout, I wasn’t entirely sure if I would like it. However, this is so in your face that you can’t help but fall into it. This book is genius.

2. This book features one of the most bad ass females I’ve seen in awhile.

Kady Grant is a bad ass. I was unsure about her at first, until I read the opening interviews from she and Ezra. She is telling the interviewer how she stole a truck (btw, that is NOT spoiler-y!). He kind of scoffs at her to which she responds, “‘I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.'” (page 15 in the ARC). I honestly slow clapped for Kady because YES. Not because she’s female, BUT BECAUSE SHE’S SHORT. I laughed for a long time. This book is full of witty one-liners that kind of catch you off guard. Kady is also an insanely clever hacker. I love this about her because it’s so rare that you see a female MC who is also good with technology. Not only GOOD, but GREAT. She hacks into files that the most experienced hackers on her crew can’t get to. She is scary good and she is the heroine of this entire story. There is some romance, but she never swoons. She just kind of accepts that she has these feelings and runs with them. She will do anything for Ezra and he will do anything for her. More on that later.

3. The romance is adorable and I am never really one for romance.

Ezra and Kady keep in contact while they are on different ships. Kady is able to hack into the messaging system and talk to Ezra in 7 minute bursts. From this, their romance blossoms again (remember – they broke up the day their planet was invaded). Sometimes, I feel like a lot of YA romances aren’t believeable because they happen so quickly. In this situation, they were dating, they broke up, then they realized that they still love each other. It built slowly and consistently. They had a history which makes their romance all the more believeable. I think this is why I didn’t mind the romance and even liked it a little.

4. This book combines three of my biggest fears: space, airborne diseases, and AI that starts to think on its own.

The entirety of this book takes place on three ships in space outrunning another ship that is chasing them from Kady’s planet. Space scares the crap out of me and I never want to visit, ever. So any books that take place in space really freak me out. Seriously, I can’t even watch movies that take place in space. Airborne diseases is a recently developed fear of mine. Ever since the zombie apocalypse fad started, I’ve been petrified of diseases floating in the air, inhaling them, and dying or becoming undead. Airborne diseases are insanely terrifying, especially since everyone would be infected. Everyone. So, with that, there is an INSANE disease in this book called Phobos Beta. I won’t tell you much about it except DON’T LOOK AT ME. Now, the Artificial Intelligence fear may seem weird, but just hear me out. Artificial Intelligence is there to make our lives easier, but it could also form a mind of its own. Who knows what could happen if a robot started thinking it had feelings and making decisions by itself?! Haven’t you ever seen the Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House?! Anyway, Illuminae explores this possibility and it is absolutely terrifying. All I’ll say is: beware the black pages.

5. The bravery and sacrifice in this book is incredible.

I could never imagine sacrificing myself for somebody else. Call me selfish, but it’s true. Kady and Ezra are constantly sacrificing their safety and sanity in order to help the thousands of people on their ships. After Kady’s planet is attacked, the ships they are on are filled to capacity with refugees. These refugees are then – for the most part – turned into soldiers with no combat training. Or really, any training at all. They’re just thrown into saving the ships. If it were me, I would be scared out of my MIND and would rather cower in a corner than take up arms against an unknown enemy. Every person who sacrifices themselves in this book is a much braver person than I am, for sure.

6. The character development is so strong, it’s ridiculous.

Each of the characters we see a lot of in this book goes through an insane amount of growth in the little time we’re with them. We see a lot of characters – not just the MCs – go through a metamorphosis. While we do see Ezra and Kady transform, we see a lot of the captains and higher ups in the military go through changes as well. By the end of the book, I felt like these characters were my friends. I haven’t read a book with character development this solid in a REALLY long time.

OVERALL: FIVE STARS!!!! I want to give this book every star in the universe, it was seriously so good. It’s a 600 page masterpiece that I finished in about 24 hours. Seriously. I know this review is pretty vague, but that’s on purpose because I don’t want to give anything away. You need this book in your life. Be warned, though. This book ruined me for other books. It took me two weeks to start and finish another book after I was done with this. This book comes out on October 20, 2015 so click the link below to preorder! Plus, I don’t know how long this will last, but if you preorder, it’s UNDER TEN BUCKS for this fantastic masterpiece! Go! Gogogogo!!!

Click to Preorder!


One thought on “ARC Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

  1. Kelly says:

    I have this one preordered on Amazon and I’m practically drooling waiting for it! I recently read The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich and it was set up somewhat similarly, with the reports, instant messages, diary entries, etc., and while at first I wasn’t crazy about it, it was such a treat that I really couldn’t wait to read another book that is set up like that. So now I’m looking forward to this one even more.

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