Book Review: Illuminae

What the even heck did I just read?! Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff was one of those books that you finish and you just have to have a life-pause for a minute or two while your brain catches up to your eyeballs.

Book Review: IlluminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 599
Format: Hardback
Buy on Amazon

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.

In case you aren’t familiar with the book, Illuminae is set up as a giant case file where the pages are all relevant documents (see photo below for examples of how cray this book is) . The docs all come together to tell the epic tale of a young man (Ezra) and woman (Kady) who play a critical role in attempting to navigate three space ships (two of which they’re aboard!) to safety. It’s year 2575. So yeah, it’s a crazy futuristic space story that has awesome formatting and is just stinking unique.

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1) artificial intelligence, 2) infectious disease, 3) epic space battles


So how does one begin to review a book like this? Easy:


  • The formatting, duh! I mean, just look at those pages.
  • The infectious disease stuff. It came out of left field, and while it could have been totally weird, it ended up being fantastic!
  • The artificial intelligence. I mean, it had its own personality and you end up feeling the feels toward the dang thing.
  • Once you hit the halfway mark, the book just zooms. You’re on the downhill slide and you literally cannot stop until you know how the book ends.
  • The love story, of course *feels*

THE THINGS THAT WERE EH (there weren’t a ton of these):

  • The formatting made it a little hard for me to get attached to the characters. Since everything you learn about them is through e-mail exchanges, instant messaging, surveillance cam descriptions, etc., I couldn’t become as invested in the characters as I usually do.
  • I struggled for the first few hundred pages with the sci-fi/spaceship/techy lingo. It didn’t really impact my overall understanding of the novel, but I’m sure I would have gotten more out of it had I understood WTH I was reading initially.

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If you like sci-fi even a little, you should probably read this book. Here’s another reason why you should read it: The sequel, Gemina, is coming out October 2016, and people are already freaking loving it.

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Have you read Illuminae? What did you think? Have you read other uniquely-formatted books? How did you do with those?

Want to buy it now? Amazon. The Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.


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  1. I believe I gave this one three stars but I also liked it and am excited for the sequel. Agreed that it was a little hard to connect with the characters because of the formatting, but I did like how unique it made the book. Nice review 🙂

    1. I can totally see how not everyone would be into this book. It definitely has to fit the right niche. I think it’s worth a try since it’s so unique, but if someone wasn’t into it by page 100 or so, I’d tell them to jump ship ?

  2. This was my FAVORITE book of 2015. In fact I bought it for all of my family members for Christmas, lol. I’m so glad you enjoyed it but sorry to hear you didn’t get as attached to the characters as you would have liked. This book was so mind blowing and I can’t wait to start Gemina!

  3. Illuminae is, by far, the most unique book I’ve ever read.
    The only other very uniqe book I’ve read is Shatter me, but you can’t really compare the two.
    Illuminae was such an amazing ride. Unfortunately, I read it on my kindle, which was really troublesome. So I honestly can’t wait for reading the real copy of Gemina this October!
    I’ve heard so many *fantastic* things from people who read the ARCs. I have no doubt this book is going to blow my mind (again) (:

    My blog:

    1. Yes. If anything, it’s a visually-pleasing read! But hopefully it can be even more than that for you (: Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Wow! Illuminae sounds amazing! I love the pages, I’ve heard SOO much good praise from authors and bloggers that I think I’m gonna pick it up soon! Thanks for the review!