Illuminae, written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is a science fiction book following detailed reports gathered from the tragic events into what they call the illuminae files. There are two main characters, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, who are stuck on two separate ships in space.
This book doesn’t follow the usual narrative seen in other science fiction and fantasy books. Each page is a copy of a diary entry, artwork, interview, security footage report, or other classified documents. They are organized in order of the events and use a lot of documents from Kady and Ezra, as they had pivotal roles in the outcome of the story.
At first, I almost put the book down, never to pick it up again. The book started out unbelievably boring. Once you get around 100 pages in, you finally began to care a bit about the characters and their journeys. I believe this is due to the unorthodox format the book is written in. It’s more of a plot-driven book than a character one, but I do believe you begin to care about the characters, particularly Kady, towards the end.
During the action scenes, the graphics were visually stunning. It blew me away and made me wish more books involved beautiful and thoughtful art inside them. It was the best way to convey action with minimal words and arguably hit me harder than a narrative format does.
The romance in the book wasn’t my favorite. It felt boring and didn’t add anything to the plot other than a connection between the two ships. I also didn’t enjoy the text messages between the characters, because they took me out of the story and made the characters seem childish. Despite this, there were some moments that made me giggle. Ezra was a rather funny character and it helped keep me interested in the story, which was already so tense.
There was an AI character that is reminiscent of Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was a cool comparison. It also brought about questions about artificial intelligence and its dangers, which is a prevalent topic heading into the future.
The end of the book upset me because something is revealed that I felt would have been better placed in another book. I can’t go into detail without spoiling it, but the book did something that really annoys me in other creative storytelling forms.
There are two other books in the series, and I know the second one follows some new characters in the same document format. Although I loved the artistic parts of the book, I won’t be continuing with the series.
Overall, I would rate Illuminae 5/10 dragons for its artistic layout and an intriguing plot. I would recommend reading if you appreciate plot-driven books and cringe romance.