Knopf Books for Young Readers
October 20, 2015
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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.
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.
You know when it seems everyone is in love with a book and you are sure there has to be something wrong with it, something they're not seeing? Yeah, this is not that book. Illuminae is at least as good as everyone is saying it is - probably better.
I reviewed a book recently where I noted that the humor went just to the point of irreverence, but not past it. Illuminae goes so far past the line of distinction you'll forget there even was one. Yet, it so works.
"What are you going to do? Sarcasm them to death?" A character asks at one point and, really, if any book could do it, it's this one. (In the best possible way.)
From the very beginning I loved the characters, their wit and sarcasm and their disregard for seriousness and/or being weighed down by the situation. It still affects them, yes, but the humor stays.
Illuminae is told in transcriptions of interviews, emails, messages, etc and I adore how well it works. The book begins with interview transcriptions and, despite it being interview transcriptions at only 2% of the book read, I knew I could easily (and happily) read a full 600 pages of it.
"Kady Grant: I am frequently underestimated. I think it's because I'm short." (-earc 2%)
"Ezra Mason: That's so not your business, it almost punches clean past the event horizon of Not Your Business and becomes Your Business again." (-earc 5%)
Kady and Ezra's personality, the disdain for the debriefing and nearly anything official, comes through in these first few pages. It is a different sort of introduction to our characters, but a brilliant one.
Even later documents that you think would be more 'official' and objective, have a level of snark to them that is unexpected by oh so fantastic:
The communications between the characters, the documents and messages, all help to connect us with the characters, establish and grow their relationships and bring readers into the action. (And I need to be vague around what all that action is so as not to be spoilery - I am not doing those for this book.)
Illuminae does a brilliant job of bringing readers first person perspective thanks to words/messages/etc directly from the characters themselves, while also presenting some third person objectivity (or as objective as the novel gets) through transcriptions, reports, etc about them.
The balance between Katy - who knows her tech and can do stealth - and Ezra - whose talents lie elsewhere, their past,, the drama between them and the future you hope they can, somehow, have was oh so good.
"...Like she wants to silence them with her death glare. It's a pretty good death glare, actually. I'd behave." (-earc 11%)
Illuminae took all of the greatness I thought it was going to have and somehow exploded it into something even more amazing, fantastic, brilliant and incredibly awesome. It's in space, it has snark and smartness, danger and intrigue, secrets, death, love, if it's awesome and could be in a book, it's here.
Read this book even if all you know is that Kady and Ezra broke up, then their planet was invaded and (together) they had to fight survive. Now, they're in space and the battles have only begun!
(No, really, read this book.)
digital review copy received thanks to publisher, via NetGalley
*quotes from advance digital copy, may change before final edition; will be checked against final edition when possible.