Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff



Title: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format I Read: Physical ARC
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Romance, Young Adult
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis from Goodreads

For those who are unfamiliar with the absolute masterpiece that is Illuminae:

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.

General Impression

Guys, Illuminae is literally going to redefine the world of books as we know it–it is absolutely revolutionary. I’m honestly astounded by the magnificence and ingenuity of this novel. I’m still reeling, so excuse me if this review is gibberish.

My experience while reading Illuminae was unparalleled. I did a buddy read with Aila (@ One Way or An Author) and we gushed over every other sentence. I’m not even exaggerating about that. We started it at around 8pm on Friday night, stayed up until 1am, and finished at 3pm on Saturday. We could barely put it down to eat and shower–not kidding. I actually wrote all about Aila’s and my emotions in my mini-review, which I posted back when I first finished the book in July. You can check out our frantic, mildly incoherent, and jittery reactions (no spoilers) here.


First of all, the book is absolutely beautiful. The ARC is a hardcover work of art. I’m absolutely serious when I said that it’s a work of art. I wanted to spend hours on each page. I was stuck with conflicting temptations: I wanted to read the book as fast as possible to figure out what happened next, but I wanted to savor each and every word and take my time. Eventually, the suspense won and I devoured the book. This book was more than just words–it was an entity, in and of itself.

I really did not think I was going to like Illuminae this much. I didn’t think that it would be possible to become attached to the characters or immersed in the story if it was just told in a bunch of impersonal documents. Yet, within the first few pages of the interviews, my heart was in the hands of the authors. They then proceeded to inflate it and make it gush with swooning emotions, and then they proceeded to crush it into smithereens with dismay and agony. Yeah, these authors are damn powerful. I swear, they’re magicians.

The story itself was such a fantastic blend of genres. You get the suspense and action of science fiction (and I’m talking about science fiction, like throwback to when science fiction was edgy and completely pure, not watered down at all). You get the swooning and the angst of a romance. You get the mystery and puzzle of a thriller. And it’s all completely seamless. You find yourself yearning for any snippet of conversation between Ezra and Kady. You find yourself gnawing at your fingernails as you try to figure out who could die next. You find yourself flipping through all the possibilities and all the possible intentions of each character. You find yourself completely captivated.


The characters were unbelievably likable–lovable, even. Like I said, within the first few pages, I was already attached to all them. Everything they felt, I felt. Every time a new character was introduced, even a minor one, I found myself loving them, hating them, feeling them in my bones. I don’t know how many times I said “God, Kady is such a badass” or “Ezra is so swoonworthy” or “God, James is hilarious” or “What the hell is Torrence thinking” or “Byron is a freaking genius” or “AIDAN is so creepy.” Kaufman and Kristoff made me feel more deeply for these characters than I’ve felt in way too long. They were charmingly real. They found humor in a miserable, chaotic situation. They refused to buckle under the destruction surrounding them. They held an undying loyalty for their loved ones. They were amazingly complex. They were characters that stick with you and haunt you long after you turn that last page.


The plot was so perfectly constructed. The conflict was so complicated, yet so simple. It had so many details and factors that came into play, yet it all seemed so clear at the end (the end is such a whammy, guys). There were just so many layers to the conflict, so much complexity. I’m not going to go more in depth, for fear of spoilers. But honestly, Illuminae was anything but ordinary. It was one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read.


I honestly don’t know what else to say. This book has genuinely left me speechless. This is the best book I’ve read all year. It deserves all of the hype it’s been getting because it is literally going to change history. I’m not exaggerating. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created a new wave of literature, and I’m so glad that I got to experience it.

This is one book that you MUST hold in your hands. Honestly, you need to get it. Like right now. Go. Go order it.


Okay, so I’m assuming you’ve ordered it at this point. Good job! You’re going to thank me later, trust me. Enjoy the sweet agony of Illuminae, everyone.

5 stars

With lots of bookish love,



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