Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

illuminae“They are beyond me.
These humans.
With their brief lives and their tiny dreams and their hopes that seem fragile as glass.
Until you see them by starlight, that is.” – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.


Everything about this book is just beautiful.

From the colourful front cover to the way the words flow on the page (sometimes quite literally) and the detail put into these pages it is all just beautiful.

You can really see that a lot of effort has gone into this book to make it exactly how the authors wanted it and so that it reads exactly right. Also, the format changes every few pages signalling a change in perspective/document and usually you know before reading a single word whose perspective it is due to the layout. If you have read the book you will know exactly what I mean; it’s just stunning.

I feel like I could talk about the way the book is laid out for a while… I mean, we even get really relevant pictures, some of which contain words, therefore continuing the story within them. Some pages have very few words, others one word repeated and any blocks of text aren’t actually very long making this basically six hundred page book a rather fast read. This is also helped by the fact it doesn’t necessarily have chapters, rather it consists of a variety of documented scenes, so it’s a book you can easily stop and start (not that you’d want to). Also, I find that if a book is split into smaller sections rather than chapters I’m more motivated to read it faster as reading it is ideal between everyday activities.

One of my favourite perspectives to read from was AIDAN’s. I just loved the format with the black background and the capslock. A* for presentation throughout the whole book, that’s for sure. It was an interesting perspective to read from too because AIDAN is not actually a person and it was unique to hear from the perspective of a character who is programmed to be a certain way. However, AIDAN does malfunction at times and we’re met with errors, so I wonder how that translated over to the audiobook…

Another touch I enjoyed was being able to watch events unfolding from an outside perspective, from a person who is watching through security cameras as characters sneak into places which are off-limits to them. It was interesting to see what a different character, a simple observer, thought of our main characters. I also found reading these parts had a bit of humour in them which I enjoyed and it was funny seeing how impressed this observer was by Kady in comparison to Ezra.

When speaking to other people through technology, whether this be through actual speech or IM, even this was presented differently on the page. This made it easy to read and assisted with the characterisation of the characters as you could read their writing and get a grasp on the way they think and even the way they write. I’ve always enjoyed when dialogue is written in this format because it’s different and dialogue is often what I enjoy reading most in books.

Normally if a book is set in a different time period or entirely different world like this, we would open it to massive chunks of text introducing us to the situation. I feel that this book just got stuck into it, forcing us to learn and adapt, just like our main characters. We were given an introductory letter to read and were basically then handed a massive file containing conversations between characters and observations etc. I think that this is a very effective way of starting the book because it makes us feel as though we are a part of that world and that the dossier was designed for us.

I realise that I have spoken a lot about the format and such thus far, so let’s get into the characters. Kady is an incredibly bright seventeen year old and while I feel that she seems impossibly capable of anything, I like her character and couldn’t help rooting for her. She was also one of the few characters I liked throughout the entire book, the only others being Ezra and Byron. Saying that, even the characters I didn’t like were still very well written with their own distinct personalities.

Ezra is possibly one of my favourites characters. This is because he appears the most relate-able. I mean, he isn’t incredibly intelligent like Kady with all her hacking knowledge, nor has he had the experience many other characters had working on the ships. Ezra is presented as a very normal person, even if his life is far from normal because when he was put on that ship he didn’t have all the same skills as the others, so a lot of what he knows is from working aboard the Alexander and having to adapt to the situation which links to what I said earlier about us adapting to this new world.

All these different ways of displaying different aspects of what’s going on and different pieces of information wonderfully fit together, creating this wonderful and unique book that I did not want to end. Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and very much look forward to the sequel and seeing where they go with it and if the format is similar to this one (I hope so). I rate this book 5/5.

Have you read Illuminae? What were your thoughts?


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8 thoughts on “Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

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