Review: Illuminae by Jay Kristoff & Amy Kaufman

So as it turns out, to continue my excitement after exiting my reading block, I fell into a Jay Kristoff marathon. Starting with Nevernight, I peeked over to my TBR shelf and saw – you guessed it – Illuminae! I’ve always been interested in how authors collaborate on books. Like, does one author take certain characters? Does one person come up with the plot and edits and the other writes and comes up with the title? Or, does one person just come up with the character’s names and personalities??? Like seriously, what’s the division of labour!

But onto more pressing issues: I think I may have a new favourite author. Kristoff really isn’t afraid to write super dark and depressing things, as seen in both Nevernight and in this book. Nevernight will get its own review, so I’m just going to focus on Illuminae for now. And boy oh boy, do I have some comments.


Side note: I know, I’m about a million years behind on EVERY review I do. That’s fine. Maybe my review will introduce you to a great book that you somehow missed, or one you’ve been meaning to reread. Either way, if you have old or new book suggestions for me, comment them below and I’ll be sure to check them out!

First of all, the way this book is written is completely different from anything I’ve ever seen. There isn’t really a split point of view, but rather a split method of data gathering. The premise of the novel is that it’s a collection of files on the attack of the Lincoln (a BeiTech space ship) on Kerenza, the small mining corporation where Kady Grant and Ezra Mason live. It then details their attempts to stay alive while fighting not only the Lincoln but also a deadly sickness that is mutating rapidly and an out-of-whack AI named AIDAN. It’s pretty serious. Oh, and to make matters worse, they just broke up. So things couldn’t really get worse.

I thought that this was a super cool way to present both the stories and the characters. We get objective observations about them, their personalities and how they’re received by the other people in the universe. Like with Kady and the staff of the Hypatia, we see how people go from hating her to loving her, and it feels like an actual human relationship can be observed. Additionally, I think that this writing style allowed for information to be presented without bias in some situations. Like when the tech is just describing whats happening in a camera tape? That’s cool! We see whats happening without the dialogue, without the internal thoughts – it’s just the character’s action, and I think that’s super fun to see. That being said, I did sometimes get annoyed for exactly the same reason – this presentation method could be super limiting, and I found myself sometimes wonder what else was happening in the scene that I couldn’t see.

The Kristoff books I currently own

Overall, I really liked Kady and Ezra. I think that they were believable high school students. Like, sometimes the highschoolers are crazy good at everything they do? Kady and Ezra were smart and talented, but they were kinda average. Kady – a good hacker, but not the best out there (I was a little doubtful that she could be as good as she sounded, but I’ll let it go). Ezra – a good newbie pilot, but he played a load of sports so it’s believable. Nothing felt like too much of a stretch. But the characters that really got to me were the minor characters. I loved McNulty and his bravery, McCall and her dedication to her people, Boll and her desire to save the Hypatia. What got to me about the minor characters was that everyone had a story, no matter how small it was. It really showed how even just the smallest of contributions can change a struggles outcome.

I was super surprised at the ending too. I didn’t predict the last 100 pages at all, and wow that ending. I’m really excited to read Gemina now, but I need to wait a little bit until I a) have money, b) have a shorter TBR and c) am back in MTL so my set is together. Plus I think that I have to read Strange the Dreamer first or my roommate will, in fact, murder me.

Overall, I give this book a 4.5/5! I’m super excited to see where the Illuminae group goes next 🙂

That’s all for now ducks, have a good week!
– Mon

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