I’ve had one eye on Illuminae for a while now, and finally decided to give it a go. I’ve read a lot of dystopian YA books, and became a little bored of them some time ago, which was the reason for my initial hesitation. Illuminae however is not a run-of-the-mill YA book. It is a visual feast, and one which uses the methods of visual storytelling to enhance rather than just accompany the story.
The book tells the story of Kady and Ezra, and how their entire world is destroyed when a corporation swoops in to destroy the illegal mining community in which they live. The survivors are evacuated by government ships, but it becomes clear that BeiTech Industries, the initial aggressor is in hot pursuit. The situation spirals out of control when one of the rescue ships is destroyed, seemingly by the enemy, although the rumours of a plague on the destroyed ship leads Kady to suspect that all may not be as it seems. Kady digs deeper into the computer servers of the ships, seeking truth, while Ezra is gradually moving towards the front lines of battle as a fighter pilot. Both of them face huge amounts of danger, and not all of it is from without.
Illuminae is told through a series of media, including interviews, narration of security footage, diary entries, IMs and similar methods. While I thought I may have difficulties connecting with the characters, the methods instead leant them a sense of mystery; how much of what they tell each other is the truth? The security footage could have been wooden and dull to read, but the events of the book meant there is rarely a quiet moment, and the narrator, the Illuminae group, is frequently entertaining and witty in their observations.
In my opinion the characters do need a little work; Ezra seems a little two dimensional in particular, and Kady is perhaps a little too unrealistically capable at times. The stand out character is definitely AIDAN, and that’s all I can say on him without ruining the story! Zhang is also brilliantly written, and overall any weaknesses in the characters are slight and covered for by the plot, which is engaging and exciting.
Illuminae is a fantastic read and this is another one that I read in one sitting! I absolutely loved it, and I’m looking forward to Kaufman and Kristoff’s next book in the series, Gemina. Kady and Ezra are not the main characters in the next novel, so I’m hoping that the characters are a little more engaging. Despite my problems with the characters, their relationship and the twists and turns that put them both at risk made me care about them a great deal. The plot is brilliant, and the visual aspects of the book are beautiful.
You should read it.
Check out my review of Uprooted by Naomi Novik if you liked this one! It’s very different but it’s another ‘I-read-this-in-one-sitting-and-I-love-it-so-frickin-much’ book.