BOOK REVIEW: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

illuminae

“He presses the triggers. And like roses in his hands, death blooms.”

Rating: 2/5

Synopsis: 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 mega-corporations 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.
(Taken from Goodreads)

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Warning: This review includes long rambling and complaining!

Please don’t virtually slap me with your slippers…but I did not like this book. If I were rating this book on its creativity in formatting, then it would get 5 stars. But I rate books on their story. And I did not like this story. And even the coolness of the physical book couldn’t take that away. In fact, it often added to my disliking. I didn’t like the ‘cool’ formatting. The ‘cool’ formatting was very annoying. In fact, would I even call it ‘cool’?

First of all, I thought the story was just…kind of…a bit…well, boring. I felt like I’d read the story before. World disaster, rescue from space craft, and race in space to get somewhere safe…I feel like I’ve read that story before. And this one (other than, of course the artistic and unique formatting of the book) had nothing new in terms of story to bring to it. Nothing really seemed to happen. When there were battle scenes, they just flashed by without us getting to actually read about them. I didn’t have an emotional connection to the characters at all (which, to be honest, was probably because the only way we get to read about them is through online chats, and surveillance reports).

As for the online chats, they often confused and annoyed me. Because, of course, the obvious thing to do when you are running for your life, is to get on messenger and have a chat with your friend. I know we live in a world where everyone likes to update everyone about everything they are doing, but come on! If you’re in an interstellar war and facing an evil virus-infected mob, you’re not going to be messaging someone with the details of your survival: “I’ve found a place to hide”, “Oh no there are people trying to kill me, I should probably instant message you about that before I run”. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little here, but it just felt like an inappropriate format to tell this sort of story in.

The one thing I did kind of like was AIDEN, the AI on one of the ships. A lot of this story is told in coding from AIDEN, which I did actually think was cool (even if it what was coming out of it was so completely unbelievable). I liked the creativity with which the AI’s parts were written, sometimes making you have to move the book around, sometimes letting you admire some pretty art. But as pretty as this book was, it actually completely distracted me while reading. I could not follow it, and each time the style changed, each time it switched from black writing on a white page to white writing on a black page, my brain shut down a little and I lost concentration. It was as though with each page I turned, I had to change my mindset to keep track – like when you finish a book and move straight onto another one upon putting the previous one down, and it often takes a little while for you to get used to the writing style of the latter. It just didn’t flow well for me, and I didn’t find the story itself particularly original or captivating enough to keep my motivation up. If it weren’t for the fact that I was reading this for my book club, I think I might have given up.

Another stylistic choice of the book that thoroughly annoyed me was the blanking out of swear words. I get that in YA, there is only so much swearing that can go into a book, and that the collection of reports in the story had been filtered for bad language, but you know what would have made this book a whole lot better to read if blanking out those words was necessary? Stop using about 3 swear words a page. Either put it in there, or don’t. But blanked-out words annoy me to no end, and completely disrupt my flow of reading. So do pages of writing like this.What even is this? Why have we got this here? We clearly have to read it to understand what’s going on, but it is the most difficult and frustrating thing to read ever.

I think what I’m ultimately saying here though, is that I did not connect with this book. If you can keep track of the changing page format, and the quirky style, and the use of IMs and surveillance footage, then you will probably find this book more enjoyable than I did. Just look at any of the many 5 star reviews on Goodreads and you will see I’m probably part of a minority in my view of this book. It just was not a book for me, at all!

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8 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. Wow, you finished already! I haven’t started it yet so I still can’t tell whether I’ll be able to keep track with the writing style or not. But I have to admit I am a bit worried about not connecting with the characters due to the way this is written. I guess we’ll see. Great review though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you sister! I was the odd man out on this book as well. I felt that the story dragged and I couldn’t connect with any of the characters and I was grateful for the end of the book. The only thing that intrigued me was the very ending of the book where the authors left of the cliffhanger for the second book. Beautiful book; gorgeous cover, but sadly will not be purchasing the second book.

    Liked by 1 person

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