Book Review: Illuminae | Holy Frak What Did I Just Read

TITLE: Illuminae
AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
SERIES: The Illuminae Files
RELEASED: October 2015; Knopf Books for Young Readers
GENRE: YA Science Fiction
FORMAT: Library Paperback

KEY INFO: Unique story presentation, set on a spaceship, awesome AI, romance, dystopia, space thriller
Female MC, AI side character
lots of space death, gory murders, insanity

amazon // book depository // goodreads


Where do I even begin with this book?? It was amazing on so many different levels that it’s hard to sit down, unpack those feelings, and actually be able to coherently review the book. Not to mention Illuminae is 599 pages so there’s a hell of a lot to unpack!

Imagine breaking up with your boyfriend, having your planet invaded by a megacorporation who is trying to kill everyone you know and love, managing to Image result for don't look at me illuminaeevacuate onto one of three United Terran Airships that are rescuing refugees, being chased across the galaxy by a BeiTech Industries warship who wants to destroy surviving witnesses, and having to team up with said ex-boyfriend in order to save the lives of thousands of people. Oh, and that’s not to mention the terrifying plague that’s rapidly spreading among the ship’s human population or the overbearing AI (AIDAN) that’s just trying to help.

Well, that’s Illuminae in a nutshell for you and it’s an incredibly butchered summary to just give you an idea of the complete chaos that lays within its pages. I went in completely blind, not knowing even a speck of information of the book and it was a hell of a ride from start to finish.

To begin with, the way that Illuminae is told is incredible and one of the main reasons why I fell in love with the book so much. Rather than being told through a straightforward narrative, Illuminae is pieced together through a hefty collection of hacked documents including emails, Instant Messages, medical reports, interviews, surveillance footage summaries, countdowns to interception, and more.


The effect that this formatting has on the reading experience is really exciting. You don’t feel like a passive reader whose just reading about something, but because you’re learning about what happened through the collection of documents it feels like you are actively piecing it all together and that you are a witness to something extraordinary. It set a brilliant pace for the book – leisurely but enjoyable for the first 100 or so pages but then a complete rollercoaster ride when things kick off. I found myself devouring hundreds of pages at a time and staying up way past bedtime because I just couldn’t put it down. There were also so many twists and turns coming my way that I didn’t want to stop reading because I needed to know what was happening next.

The advantage of the story being told like this is that you also get to experience the story from many different perspectives but in a way that’s entirely different to alternating points of view narrating. Instead, we’re privy to dozens of different people’s accounts from our female protagonist, Kady, to the ships AI, AIDAN, and right down to the most minor characters who wrote medical reports and other important ship documents. Every single one of these characters are interesting and they all contribute to our understanding of the story. They were endearing, brave, unhinged, loveable, frustrating, flawed. The combined effect made the story really believable throughout. Also, can I just take a second to appreciate Kady because she is a complete badass who learns to do exceptional hacking during her time on board her ship Hypatia, can seriously kick ass and takes no shit from nobody. I also love books where we get perspectives from AI’s. That’s my jam right there.

I’m not sure what else I can say without giving anything away, so I won’t! Basically, if you want a book that’s super refreshing to read, an incredibly interesting and gripping story, chock full of compelling characters, and really attractive to look at then definitely pick up Illuminae. I actually cannot wait to read Gemina


Image result for illuminae AIDAN

EST. 2015 (1)


20 thoughts on “Book Review: Illuminae | Holy Frak What Did I Just Read

  1. Ohhh!! What a unique format, I might have to pick this up in paperback (super rare for me, I am a kindle junkie).

    I like hacker/cyberpunk books but the hacking needs to be realistic, more Mr. Robot less Hackers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I personally loved Gemina even more than Illuminae, so I cannot wait for you to pick it up either hahaha I just wish the book came in colour. That would be the most beautiful thing to ever exist. Especially since sometimes the ink can get quite dark. There were some instances where the shading wasn’t ideal for reading. Still, one of the best and most fun concepts out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m reading Gemina in a few weeks for a read along so not long to wait now! I personally really liked it in black and white because it made it feel more like case study documents to me and very luckily the copy I had didn’t have any shading issues so it was all super clear! I can imagine it can be a big problem though, especially on the space pages if the shading isn’t right

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so glad that you enjoyed Illuminae so much! I love your blog post title haha, that’s exactly how I felt while reading this book, like holy s*** what is happening 😂 I love that you say we are active readers while reading this book, putting all of the pieces together thanks to this wonderful formatting. I thought I would have a hard time getting into this, but turns out I didn’t and I really enjoyed the story 🙂
    I can’t wait for you to read Gemina, I hope you’ll love it 🙂
    Lovely review! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The format of these books = GOLD.
    I never, ever liked sci-fi. Movies? Series? No, thank you sir. I had my doubts about Illuminae but.. how can you not fall in love with this?! Like, seriously?! It’s a unique roller coaster ride and I LOVE AIDAN SO MUCH. I can’t help it. He’s like that one villain that I can’t seem but like? So weird. Or not.

    Can’t wait for Obsidio to arrive! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s always the best sign that a book is fantastic, when someone who is not usually a fan of the genre enjoyed it!

      I loved Aidan a lot as well. He’s such an interesting character and I loved his development throughout the book.

      Liked by 1 person

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