I’m not sure what to say about this book that hasn’t already been said. This book gets a ton of hype. Everyone seems to love it, and I’m not any different. For me, it mostly lived up to the hype. It has all the humor, darkness, and action that I was promised.
If you’ve been living under a space rock and don’t know what this book is about, I’ll tell you. Shortly after teenagers Kady and Ezra break up, their planet is invaded, and they are forced onto different rescue ships. When a plague breaks out and the ships’ AI starts malfunctioning, Kady and Ezra have to work together to figure out what is happening. The story is told as a casefile. It includes emails, reports, interviews, IMs, etc.
First, if you’re worried about the structure of this book, don’t be. It’s very easy to follow and not confusing at all. I wanted to read Illuminae because I was told that it was experimental, but it isn’t very experimental. There are other stories that have been told in similar ways. So, please don’t let the casefile structure put you off reading it. It’s not as intimidating as it seems, and the book is a quick read despite its chunky size.
I think the authors handled the nontraditional structure brilliantly. I was surprised at how much tension this story has. I thought that the document structure would make the plot lose immediacy, but it’s actually suspenseful. I stayed up way too late to finish the book because I couldn’t go to sleep without knowing how it ended.
I was also surprised at how quickly I got attached to the characters. They have very distinctive personalities that really come through in their conversations. It’s amazing how much character development can happen through dialogue alone. Ezra is my favorite. I literally laughed out loud at some of his dialogue.
Also, there is a twist at the end of the book that I didn’t see coming. Looking back, I should have seen it, but I didn’t. It’s hard for a book to catch me totally off-guard. I’m usually pretty good at picking up on little clues and guessing what’s coming, but this twist snuck up on me.
My only complaint (and it’s a fairly big one) is that the story has a lot of sci-fi tropes. There is a stereotypical badass heroine; a zombie-ish plague; and an evil, super-powerful AI. I feel like I’ve seen this before. I wanted more originality in the story.
Despite that issue, I’m excited to continue with the series. I like the themes that the book explores (such as keeping sight of what’s important in life), and I’m interested to see where the series goes next.