by Sarah Nicholson
So, if you take equal parts disaster flick, space odyssey, zombie plague, rogue AI system, hackers and romance you will begin to understand what Illuminae is, I mean besides freakin awesome. I started this novel with very low hopes, because I’ll be honest space stories typically do not do it for me. If you’ve read one, you’ve most of them. However, everything about Illuminae worked, so much so that I read the sequel.
The series, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, follows several characters all with interlocking narratives, but the main two, of the first book are Kady and Ezra. On the morning of their break up, their entire world literally gets blown to pieces. They soon find themselves as refugees on two separate ships trying to out run a giant dreadnought sent to wipe out the survivors from their planet. But that is only the tip of the intergalactic iceberg that are their problems. Separated and only able to communicate through Kady’s hacker skills, the two have to figure out a way to handle the ever-evolving disasters that are occurring on board each ship; all while the clock ticks down to their inevitable showdown with dreadnought Lincoln.
The real genius in the series is the layout. The entire book is a retrospective told through dossiers, text messages, video surveillance transcripts and the homicidal rationalization of the Artificial Intelligence system. It’s brilliant, because the conversations sound 100 percent genuine, complete with colorful ‘what the heck’ descriptions. Now for those who aren’t into swearing you’re still covered. Because it’s a retrospective story told through “officially compiled” reports, which means all the colorful language has been redacted, leaving the phrasing to the imagination of the reader. This makes it amazing in the written copy of the book.
As I said I did go on to read the second installment in the series, Gemina, well technically I listened to it via audiobook, but still. For those afraid that I’m about to drop spoilers to book one, chill. The second book follows completely different characters in a completely different part of space. Like I would actually tell you if Kady and Ezra make it, get real. Any way, I had heard that the audiobook was stunning because it employed a variety of voice actors, making it more of a radio show than standard audiobook. As much as I loved the first book, and I really did, I was floored by the exquisite experience that was the audio. Really, the sarcasm… wit… delivery, ugh its been like a week since I finished it and I’m still wishing there was more to hear.
I think this book series is a great example for what happens when you take a story that could be conventionally good, but by throwing out some of the rules you get something absolutely outstanding. The only drawback I could really find with it, is that I now have to purchase the hardcopies and audiobooks, a verifiable first for me. *Sigh* It’s a hardship I shall endeavor to bare, and I hope you get a chance to endure this particular struggle too. Happy reading!