Book: Illuminae


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
Date: October 20, 2015
FA Scorecard: AKady Grant is ready to dump her boyfriend, Ezra. She’s convinced that’s going to be one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do. Except that shortly after she dumps him, the covert mining operation where she lives (off world) gets attacked by a competing mining company. In one day the drama in her life goes from teenage romance to life and death struggles. Literally. Now she and Ezra must survive in this post attack climate. They need to re-navigate everything they’ve ever learned or understood.  In reading this summary, you might think that the book is a typical angst ridden apocalyptic drama but you’d be wrong.Told from secret files, emails, and interrupted transmissions, this story weaves in and out through SIX HUNDRED pages of documents. Yes, 600. It’s bigger than a brick. Literally. Which felt like a daunting task to sit down and read, but I’m glad I did.There is no traditional narrative in this story. Everything (and I truly mean everything) is as if you’re reading a covert special operations set of documents about the ‘incident.’ From security footage being described to chats and even secret files, this story unfolds in a way that’s anything but usual or ordinary.That said, the story itself was engaging, fascinating, and really fun to follow. I admit that I was worried when I first sat down to read. The first few pages put me off a little bit. Not from an email perspective. I’ve read books where the stories are told that way before. (Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments comes to mind.) But the sheer magnitude of what it held and the fact that it wasn’t only emails or only chats. It was all through different means and it felt scattered though it was well organized. Once I started reading, I was completely wrapped around the story. I loved it. The innovative imaging on the pages, the different methods of getting the point across…these astounded me. I can’t even give enough kudos to both authors and the editorial/layout teams on this one. The book deserves merit, awards and to be lauded for its breakthrough storytelling dynamic.

The only thing I would caution is that there’s some language. Well, there is and isn’t. You KNOW what they’re saying, but all of the language is blanked out. Literally. There are black ‘censor’ strips over the language in the report. But you still know what they’re saying. I think they played a tight line on that one because a YA book filled with that sort of language wouldn’t fly. But this one sort of technically skates around it. There’s also a couple of conversations that gave me pause when thinking about whether my younger teen should read it. Just one or two things that I felt took away from the book and weren’t necessary. They aren’t overwhelming, huge, or graphic – just annoyances that they were included. My youngest tween can read the book but I’ll be honest, I may sharpie marker through those couple of scenes. After all, it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the book!

All in all, I really enjoyed this read and I am eager to get on the list for the next book. May I have some more please???

If you have a science fiction fan in your home, this is a great book to pick up. You don’t want to miss the start of this innovative and fabulous new series!

*Review copy provided by the publisher.

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