Book Review: ILLUMINAE by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Photo credit: Goodreads
Sometimes, when a book gets a ton of hype, I get a little skeptical but I also feel more inclined to at least take a look during a stroll at a bookstore. And I'm so glad I did because Illuminae more than lives up to every ounce of the hype. 

Before I go on, here's the summary from Goodreads:

"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."

I started reading Illuminae on New Years Eve, thinking that I'd just read maybe twenty pages or so and continue reading the rest the next day. So I read twenty pages. Then I read two hundred more in the same evening. Because I legitimately could not stop reading.

Teens on two space ships, a mutating, dangerous virus, an unforgettable AI, and an enemy space ship ready to destroy them looming ever closer come together to make this book unputdownable.

I haven't read a found materials book in a long time (maybe ever?) but I have to say, I loved the format. The book is written in e-mails, IMs, interviews, etc. and has intense action and conflict right from the start that kept me ripping through the pages. There are loads of twists (some of which had me cursing out loud while I read), lots of people die, so many scenes broke my heart, and it was just an incredibly good read.

Finally, a note on format: this book is beautiful with some truly creative formatting that had me literally flipping the book around to read certain two-page spreads. I've confirmed with some people who have read the e-book version that the formatting does not work nearly as well in the e-version, so if you get it, I highly recommend getting the print version. It's a brick (nearly 600 pages), but the formatting actually makes it a surprisingly quick read, and I promise you, it is so worth it.

Diversity note: All the major characters, as far as I can tell, were cishet and white with exception to one Chinese character. There's more diversity with minor characters both with race and sexual orientation (mostly really minor characters, to be honest), but representation was lacking in the major cast, aside from PTSD and other mental health issues common amongst trauma victims.

Twitter-sized bites:
.@Ava_Jae gives 5 stars to ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. Is this intense, spacey YA SF on your TBR? (Click to tweet
Looking for an action-packed, creatively-written YA SF? Try ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. (Click to tweet)

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