Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations 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 going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the turth, 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 (from Goodreads).


Not for a long time has a book kept me so on-edge, so truly captivated. All the bloggers and vloggers I follow have been raging about Illuminae, so I was sceptical as to whether or not it was actually that good, or that people just didn't want to rock the boat and have a different opinion. I can now safely say it's really that good. 

Our lead characters are Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, two teenagers who have grown up on Kerenza, a tiny mining planet in the outskirts of nowhere. Their day starts off with them both dealing with their breakup and their broken hearts, and things really don't get much better from there because then their planet's invaded. We are first introduced to Kady and Ezra during their interviews onboard the Alexander and the Hypatia, two of the ships that came to their planet's rescue midst the invasion. Kady is a strong, fiery young woman who has real issues with authority, and Ezra is a snarky sort-of guy who is nursing the loss of everything he knows and cares about. Who they are is laid out for the reader right there from the get-go, their motivation for everything that comes later is discussed, and that's rather refreshing.

As the book continues, we see how Kady and Ezra have grown from what they've seen. Ezra has been conscripted into the Alexander's air force, and Kady has started making friends with the Hypatia's hackers. Their lives have taken quite an unexpected turn, and now they're finding their feet in their new world. Events transpire that bring them back together, align them once again on the same page enough to start forgiving each other for their break-up.

Their romance is rather endearing, on both sides. Kady loves rather fiercely, but Ezra seems to hold a part of himself back. At least that's how I saw it. It's not that Ezra doesn't love Kady; he loves her, with all his heart, but he doesn't seem to ever see himself as quite good enough for her. That's never good for a relationship, when one person is counting down the days to their supposed-inevitable demise. And Katy has her own issues; she can give her all to a relationship, plan a future together, but can't handle if her other half disappoints her and she will start writing people off, and closing herself down, if they do so. That's something I do, so I relate to Kady quite a lot. 

Of course, Kady and Ezra's personal lives aren't the only focus on the book. Oh no, we've got AIDAN, the Alexander's rogue AI system, and a airborne virus that slowly reduces anyone who comes into contact with it psychotic and murderous. So there's lots going on, and it's all weaved together very well. 

The way the story is told, through hacked files and interviews and IMs is a difficult concept to pull off, especially when portraying any type of action, but this does it so well. Makes it seem a little bit science-fictiony for me, but I'm not really sure why. Perhaps it's all the technology used? Dispersed through the book, there are also beautifully-creative artwork and schematics of ships, and the care and thought put into these details is evident and appreciated. 

I look forward to Gemina, book 2 in The Illuminae Files series, which is coming out later this year. With everything that happened at the end of Illuminae, I'm eager to see how the chessboard has been reset, what the stakes are. Also, is it too much to hope that AIDAN makes an appearance of some kind? 

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