Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Thank you, Luna, my not-so-evil twin for sending me this wonderful book ! ♡♡♡

Rating : 

The YA genre is often criticized for its lack of reinvention. Same old plot devices, same types of female lead, same love interests… But if Illuminae succeeded at anything, it would certainly be its ability to offer something original (if not plotwise, then at least formatwise), extremely sarcastic and almost free of the teenage angst we’re used to in the genre ! The tone is also more adult and I’d got my fair share of flying limbs and gore and horrible deaths (this was supposed to be a break from my usual heavy Fantasy reads…).

“He presses the triggers. And like roses in his hands, death blooms.”

The book is definitely not perfect. There are plenty underdeveloped characters and some happy and convenient coincidences that may have weakened the story. But you know what ? It just didn’t matter this time! May be it helped that I was in the right mood for it but I over-enjoyed this reading experience !

Against all odds! To be honest, I was really apprehensive and a little intimidated before I started this book ! First, because I never read Sci-Fi before. I even caught up with the Star Wars and Star Trek movies only last year (guess I’ll have to deal with the disbelieving and disapproving looks now… XD). And second, just type Illuminae on Google Images and look at the pages layout ! They are so gorgeous and original and insanely intriguing! But, how in the world is it possible to convey any emotions or tell a coherent story with a collection of pictures and emails and transcriptions ?? I was rather skeptical. Well, guess what ? I was totally wrong ! The format was pure genius. From an aesthetic point of view, it was a 599-pages piece of art ! And in terms of content, this book was an emotional roller-coaster that kept me on tenterhooks until the end.

Part of being alive is having life change us. The people around us, the events we live through, all of them shape us. And that’s what I think you’re afraid of. Maybe not of dying. But of this you, the you you’ve become, ceasing to exist.

Granted, the story in itself wasn’t mind-bogglingly original but it just had the right amount of action and suspense and tension. The authors took some risks with their plot, killing characters and making painful or shocking twists. So really, whether one like the story or not, Kaufman and Kristoff scored points in that regard. The writing was whimsical as it alternated between profoundly poetic, bordering at philosophical, colloquial language and text speak. But the highlight of this book was the sarcasm and humor for me. Kaufman and Kristoff clearly had a lot of fun doing this book it’s almost palpable. Which made this read a really fun and light experience, despite the plethora of gut-wrenching scenes !

“Perhaps bravery is simply the face humanity wraps around its collective madness.”

The romance (well Illuminae IS still YA, so needless to say, there was romance) was okay for me. It was neither grand and epic, nor cheesy and overdone. We didn’t get the usual “angsty teenager swooning at her perfect love interest(s)” trope and it didn’t dominate the story in my opinion.

You deserve someone who’ll run with you as far and as fast as you want to. Holding your hand, not holding you back.

There were a lot of characters in this book (due to its format: emails, transcriptions, chats…). Most of them were only used to transmit one information. But those with a bigger role were pretty well fleshed out. I really loved to discover and forge my own idea about them mainly through their conversations and a few journal entries. Kady, a sassy and genius teenage hacker dominated the first half of the book while in the second half, AIDAN entered the scene and stole the show. I won’t speak about AIDAN. I, for one, went into this book completely blind and talking about “him” would just ruin the fun ! Suffice to say that you’re going to face some thought-provoking development and situations ! 😉

Am I not merciful ?

If you want something fun, engrossing, fast-paced and original in your YA reads, this book is definitely for you ! I also recommend this book for all Fantasy and Sci-Fi readers because, believe me, the format alone is worth the effort ! 😉


Review by Haïfa.

Read in May, 2017.

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