By Heather A.
5 out of 5 stars ★★★★★
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.
*An Advanced Reader Copy was provided by the publisher at Book Expo America for an honest review.*
My first impression was that this ARC was messy, but cool. The publisher put a lot of effort into the packaging of the ARC, so I wonder what they will bring for the final copy. Some publishing factoids: 1) ARCs are rarely hardcover, so that’s a sign that the publisher has a lot of faith in the book when they decide to print one this way; 2) Making a book that is image heavy is a huge cost to the publisher, and another sign that the unique storytelling aspect has real selling power.
The book is around 600 pages, but most of it, like I mentioned is images, rather than text, so the book moves very quickly. Readers look at correspondence between two young adults who are on two different space ships. One is a hacker and has access to internal servers to know what’s going on in the higher officer ranks. We also gather correspondence from other sources, including scans, video, and personal journals from various people across three ships. At first glance, the book looks chaotic, but if you take a second to read and understand how it’s presented, the packaging is understandable and basically, in my opinion, brilliant.
Another compelling aspect of this novel is the story itself. Set in space during the beginnings of an interstellar corporate war. There are many threats for our protagonists, Kady and Ezra: a murderous Artificial Intelligence that runs the ships, a deadly virus that’s used as chemical warfare, and a warship after the three spaceships that are on the run. These threats move the pacing brilliantly. The protagonists solve them to the best of their ability–they are teenagers, after all. For instance, these are just two teenagers, so they don’t have much power in the high officer rankings, but the way they react to what is happening around them is heroism. I’m especially proud of Kady and her hacking skills, which save everyone. And their story is going to grow since this is slated as a trilogy. What sold me on the story as a whole were the major plot twists at the end. I was floored. And I am still talking about this book with anyone who will listen and doesn’t care about spoilers. I want more people to read this so I can talk about it with them!
Illuminae is a great addition to the sci-fi genre. Fantastic pacing and unique storytelling make this a must-read for everyone. Check out some pictures of the jacket/cover and interior!