Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files
Who’s it for? Teens
What’s it about? The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice covered speck.
Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Ezra and Kady have to make their escape on the evacuating fleet. But their troubles are just beginning. A deadly plague has broken out on one of the spaceships and it is mutating with terrifying results. Their ship’s protection is seriously flawed. No one will say what is going on.
As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her. Ezra. And the only problem with that is they split up before all this trouble started and she isn’t supposed to be talking to him.
[Blurb taken from the book]
What’s good about it? My immediate as-soon-as-I-finished-the-book response was EVERYTHING! Followed closely by incoherent squeaking as I then tried to immediately get my friends to read it. My slept-on-it response is: almost everything.
I love -love-LOVED the design of the book. It’s gorgeous and the whole layout just really adds a level of intrigue. The whole story is told through found footage, interviews, reports, diary entries, orders, chat transcripts, posters, ship designs and layouts. And the net result is something truly wonderful because actually I don’t think this would have been half as good if it was told in a more traditional format. Part of the fun for me was finding the little hidden snippets and easter eggs on the pages. The dates are generally on the first page of each new media so it was easy to see how it all progressed.
I really liked the characters – all of them – they all felt rich and real with backstories and thoughts and feelings, even the background characters felt like real people, not just red shirts there to be killed at a moments notice. The main characters Kady and Ezra had some quite fun interplay and I thought it was interesting to start their relationship in the book at the moment of their breakup – I liked watching them come to terms with each other in the face of the loss they suffered.
What’s bad about it? It starts on what feels like a very gentle pace and because of this it took a few pages to really grip my interest. Part of the reason is because although they’re describing the destruction of Kerenza it’s done through interview transcripts, which was fun but talking the aftermath didn’t have quite the same level of impact.
All the swearing is redacted. Which was both fun and irritating – irritating because then I spent ages trying to work out which swearword they’d use. AGES.
It’s quite heavy on the technobabble at points, I didn’t actually mind this (massive sci-fi fan so I’ve heard a lot of technobabble over the years) but I suspect for some it may be a little off-putting.
The verdict? Oh my God! OH MY GOD!! I loved it. I loved it so much I’m having trouble collecting my thoughts. The interplay between the characters, the relationships, the backstories, the beautiful, beautiful page designs ( this is a seriously not a book to be read on an ereader, not unless it can accurately portray the layouts and the design).
OK, so it’s not completely perfect, I mean there are some teeeeny niggles. Clearly the person transcribing what is happening on CCTV is a budding novelist because they really get into describing what is happening in more colourful detail than the average report (unless this was actually meant to be Kady?) and it does start slow, but it builds up into something wonderful.
It wears its influences on its sleeve, definitely taken a nod or two from HAL, there are some teeny parallels with Star Trek (it’s kind of impossible not to when it’s a story set on ships in space), and I’m guessing one or both of the authors is a fan of Firefly as the Phobos virus seems to share a kinship with the Pax virus that created the Reavers. But it all just added to its charm.
This was a wonderful, quirky, brilliant read and I would really highly recommend it. I’m so excited about the sequel I actually don’t know how I’m going to be able to wait for it!
About the photo: I know, I know, I’m mixing fandoms as I’ve used the Enterprise, but it felt fitting and it lights up – what’s not to love?