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

IlluminaeJKT600px-copy book

“Illuninae” by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publishing house: Knopf

Release date: October 20th, 2015

Quality of writing: 4-4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

How much I liked it: 3 out of 5 stars.

Goodreads summary:

“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 just want to start this review off by saying thank you to the lovely lady who loaned me her ARC of “Illuminae” and Knopf publishing for giving her one. In no way has this influenced my review.

There was a LOT of hype surrounding “Illuminae” before it came out, and I had joined the masses of bloggers trying to get their hands on a nearly unobtainable and coveted ARC of this book. Yeah, I was SUPER excited for this book and was getting caught up in the tide of reviews proclaiming how glorious “Illuminae” was, and now that this weighty book has been released, it seems for most people that it was not overly hyped by popular bloggers/readers. Sadly, I wasn’t most people.


Feel free to throw rotten tomatoes or gross trash at me for saying it, but I did not like this book. I ended up reading “Illuminae” back in late July (thanks to the generous loan from a fellow bookish comrade) and after finishing it, I just didn’t know how to review it due to my lackluster feelings towards it, and the longer I waited, the more I dreaded the day when I had to write my review. I kinda hate myself a little bit since I love Amie Kaufman so much as an author, but my problem was that “Illuminae” never had anything that appealed to me, no character or situation that drew me into its story. I kept hoping for something to really pop out at me like a character or plot twist, but I wasn’t surprised by much because it seemed a little predictable, and I was not at all held in suspense since the stakes weren’t high for me; I didn’t have a character that I loved, so I had nothing to lose. I didn’t want for any of the characters to die, but when a lot of them did get killed, I was sad because they were (fictional) people, yet I was left relatively unaffected. I think that one of the reasons for my feeling of distance from the characters in this story was because of the writing style where most everything was in texts, instant messages, data logs, and secret dossiers.

The writing style was definitely inventive and different from anything I have seen in YA, but the fact that almost all of this book’s 600 pages were written in the cold, distancing style of text and instant messaging, I felt like I was watching this book unfold rather than feeling involved and like I was a part of this story. I think the best thing to compare this book to is a video game that you get to watch someone else play. Not. Fun.

bored sherlock

Due to the lack of suspense, my dislike of the main characters, and the feeling of déjà vous concerning the science fiction aspects of this book, I just really wanted to finish “Illuminae” and be done with it. I was so sad about that because I REALLY wanted to like this book and I tried to, but it just was not for me. “Illuminae” wasn’t a bad book, but I don’t think it is all that epic either, and that really pains my heart to write because of how much I love both halves of the dynamic duo known as the “Starbound” authors. I guess I just kept wanting for Amie and Meagan to be the ones writing this book together, making it an extension of their creative and immensely entertaining “Starbound” trilogy. Okay, I’ve rained on this book long enough, so I’m going to talk about something that I actually liked about “Illuminae.”

I may not have liked the characters or story of “Illuminae,” but I did LOVE the design of this book’s cover and its incredibly unique interior. As I said before, the whole book was done in texts, instant messages, dossiers, and data logs, and although it did not end up being a good way to get to know the characters, they made for a very interesting visual every time I turned the page. My favorite pages were definitely the black ones because of how uniquely they were designed; some were pictures made out of words/numbers, and others were beautiful patterns drawn from strings of words. It was very creative, and I loved the artistry of those pages as well as the parts of the story they shared with me as a reader.

Overall, I think “Illuminae” was a very creatively designed book with a promising concept. Despite that, however, this was definitely not a book that I like, and as much as I love Amie Kaufman as an author, I don’t think I’ll pick the second book in the “Illuminae Files” series up.

P.S. Most people are giving “Illuminae” rave reviews, so don’t let my review steer you off of picking it up.


12 thoughts on “Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #1)

  1. Aw, bummer! I have been looking forward to reading this book, but have been worried about not being able to fully connect with the characters, because of the format of it. Guess my fears were confirmed… Oh well, I guess I’ll just check it out sometime in the future after I tackle the mountain that is my TBR list. Maybe I’ll check out the Starbound series first. Haven’t read it yet, but my friend has been bugging me to. 🙂

    • You know, don’t take my word for it on “Illuminae”; so many people have liked it and I am just one of the VERY few who didn’t care for it, so you may end up really liking it.
      I’m gong to join your friend right now in bugging you: please, go read the “Starbound” trilogy! 😉 That is my favorite science fiction series/trilogy right now, and I can’t wait until the last book, “Their Fractured Light,” comes out in December.

  2. I agree. Personally I’m not into space books so that’s probably why I didn’t finish it. The interview in the beginning was hilarious but it was also focused on the romance. And yeah I understand what you mean by the writing style. It’s hard to get to know the characters with that of sort writing style. I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t really enjoy it. Great review 🙂
    Btw how did you find the romance? And what about Ezra, Kady, and Aidan?

  3. I’m glad to see a not so raving review for Illuminae. Besides its appeal for the way the story is laid out, I also found reading Illuminae to be less impressive. I kinda felt like I was reading a text book, which made the characters seem rather lack-luster and ultimately disengaged me from the story.

  4. It’s definitely refreshing to read your review! So many people have LOVED this book and there haven’t really been many people who said anything negative, which makes me appreciate your review even more. I’ll make sure to lower my expectations for this one.

    • I’m glad you liked my review. I am looking forward to seeing what you think of “Illuminae,” and although I wasn’t a fan of it, I really hope that you end up enjoying it! 🙂
      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting!

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