Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Title: Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA Fiction, Sci-fi
Publisher: Knopf Books
Date published: October 20th 2015
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 602

Rating: 4.5/5

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.


First off, any one who’s ever fortuitously picked up the book and quickly sweep through the pages in the book store will know that Illuminae Files has a unique formatting. The story is written as if it were a dossier of documents, filled with interview transcripts, emails, military files, medical reports, etc. That formatting was genius. If you were like me and found the format intimidating, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. Once you get into reading it, the flow just comes naturally, you literally don’t know when to put it down (I finished it in two sittings).

The story follows the attack of a mining planet Kerenza IV and follows Kady and Ezra, two teenagers who get saved along with thousands of other refugees. They find themselves on the fleet fleeing away from the one remaining enemy warship, Lincoln. During this space chase, things get complicated for the crew as the fleet’s AI, AIDAN, begins to malfunction.

AIDAN suffered a few injuries during the attack on Kerenza IV, and as a result, his logical reasoning seemed to turn out a bit lot more twisted than normal. Soon enough his actions begin to pose a threat against the fleet, and the crew had no choice but to shut him down; but not until after the damage was already done.

Because of the nature of how the book was written, I initially wasn’t very attached to two characters. I didn’t really care for the angsty drama between Ezra and Kady.  Though I’ll admit Kady did grow on me. She was resourceful, as well as undeniably scrappy and rebellious. And you can’t help but admire her actions after, well, everything that happens in the book.

For the first half of the book, the plot was interesting enough for me to keep going. But it was definitely half way through when they rebooted AIDAN where that things got way 100x more exciting. AIDAN just made things much more interesting. Why have tiny specks of humans when you can have a high functioning (and maybe insane) artificial intelligence?

As much as everyone in the book was against the AI, I felt like there was some logic to his actions that somehow made it a bit justifiable. He did what was needed to save them, even if it meant killing 2000 others. And its intriguing to see how he begins developing more humanistic character traits over the course of the book…

Nevertheless, AIDAN was no doubt my favourite character of the book. There, I said it. Fight me.

I think the way that Illuminae was told made it all the more interesting and kept you on the edge of the seat. It made you feel like a operative going through the files. The visual aspect of the book was lovely; and I thought it was just hilarious how they censored all the swearing.


The book went by so fast!! Already went to put borrow Gemina from the library 🙂

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

  1. Ooh, an AI gone kaput is so creepy! Have you ever seen or read 2001: A Space Odyssey? A similar thing happened in that, and it turned into a fight to the death between man and computer 😬

    Liked by 1 person

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