Book Review

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published by: Knopf Books
Date: October 20, 2015
Genre: YA Science-Fiction
Format: ARC (a very old one, I know)
Others in Series: Gemina, Obsidio (March 2018)

StarStarStarStarHalf Star

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


I’ve been watching Star Trek: TOS so once I finished Gentleman’s Guide I knew I wanted something with starships and space battles and silly pseudo-science words that make no sense. Illuminae was the only sci-fi book that I had on my TBR shelves that seemed even close to what I wanted, and it absolutely delivered. My copy is a two year old ARC that doesn’t have the right cover or all the art it’s supposed to but I could not stop reading. It was compelling, refreshing, and surprisingly heartbreaking.

The book is told through a series of fake reports, conversation transcripts, IM logs, and other data. I didn’t think I would like the format because it adds another barrier between the reader and characters, and I wasn’t exactly wrong there – I still don’t have a proper grasp on either Ezra or Kady – but this somehow did not take away from my enjoyment.  And as the book went on, I loved both characters (and their friends) regardless. Also I am 99% sure I am not imagining the Star Trek references. Right? Someone reassure me.

The only thing that really bothered me was that I don’t exactly understand why BeiTech attacks the colony. Maybe I am not supposed to understand, but the motivation for the antagonists was murky and confusing. I am also not sure whether to attribute this confusion to the fact that we only see the protagonists’ side because of the book’s format, or  to the world-building itself. Either way, I felt like I was missing something the whole time, which is the only reason for the lost half star.

After finishing it, I was dismayed to discover that the series is not over yet, the second book is only out in hardcover, and the third only releases next March. Truly horrifying, I know. Naturally, I bought Gemina immediately and now I need to get my hands on a hardcover copy of Illuminae.

In all, though, the book was great. I was reading in bed, on the subway, in free moments in class, and while walking (at night–I was that invested). If that doesn’t say read this book, I don’t know what does.


I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff”

  1. Great review! I won’t spoil you on Gemina, but I felt like things came together more in the second book, and I think everything will really “click” once we reach Obsidio’s release. I’m rereading Illuminae right now, actually, and loving it even more the second time! ❤


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