Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Source: Borrowed

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.

BRIEFING NOTE: 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.

In case you didn’t see my rating up there, I’m going to say it here: I did not enjoy this book. I know it’s a well-loved book and this is probably heresy or something, but this book was just not for me, and here’s why.

The characters: Did I care about even one single character? No. They were roles, not characters. We have the Strong Female Protagonist who’s ready to save the world. We have the Charming Love Interest who… doesn’t really have much more of a function than that. We have some Fun Side Characters whose only purpose is to die for shock value.

The plot: I’m sorry, what plot? There are two ships, okay. There’s a very contagious sickness on one of them. Some lovers who’ve been separated after breaking up but they’re still in love? There’s a war, I guess, but it’s not really explained in any kind of detail. I don’t even know what the plot is, really, aside from Kady and Ezra pining over each other for no reason.

The relationship: I’m a romance lover and even I can admit that the romance in this book was entirely unnecessary. If Kady and Ezra love each other so much, why did they break up at the beginning of the book? I couldn’t take them seriously.

The plot twist: I rolled my eyes. It wasn’t one of those “oh wow, that plot twist!!” kind of situations. It was one of those “really? are you actually serious? this is what I waited for??” kind of moments. The big plot twist was some nonsense.

I had really hoped to enjoy Illuminae since so many of my Goodreads friends and fellow bloggers love it, but I just couldn’t get into it. The format is fun, but that’s about all that I can say about this one. I love Jay Kristoff, but I’m not going to be continuing with this series.

Have you read Illuminae? Do you agree with me or did you love it?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Lilac LaRoux, the richest heiress in the entire galaxy, narrowly avoids death by hotwiring an escape pod as the luxury spaceship Icarus goes down, ripped out of hyperspace by some unknown force. Decorated war hero Tarver Merendsen happens to be there with her, having helped her avoid the pandemonium as the 50,000 people aboard the ship clamber for help. The two crash land on a mysterious planet, terraformed to the point of having forests and plains, breathable air, and critters large and small, but no colonists to be found. Who would spend such outrageous amounts of money terraforming a planet only to abandon it? Why is no rescue mission coming to look for survivors?

I think this book solidified for me that I’m done with dystopian stories. They all sound the same to me. They’re all the same plot, in a slightly different location, with slightly different characters: boy and girl, stranded away from all civilized life, must fight for their lives and expose the corruption of the society that led them to this point.

It’s not a bad book if you’re into that kind of thing, but clearly I’m not anymore. I like my books with a bit more plot. A bit more worldbuilding. A bit more personality. This is a love story – sort of – and it mostly centers around how the two characters feel about each other. That, and detailed descriptions of the two characters trekking around, each scene obviously constructed to push them closer together.

I’m disappointed that I didn’t like this book more, but I think that speaks more to my general attitude toward this sort of book, rather than any failure by the authors.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆