Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Release date: 1 November 2015
Rating: ★★★★★★★★★★ – 10/10
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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) blurb:

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations 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, exes Kady and Ezra – who are barely even talking to each other – are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship hot in pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. 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 the fuck is 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.

Can I start by saying that this is not your average YA novel? Because it’s really not. This book is a myriad of lies and deceptions and half-truths, mixed in with a spattering of heart-breaking honesty and dusted off with some science.

AND IT’S INCREDIBLE.

OK, so the story starts at high school on the planet Kerenza IV (where Kady and Ezra live for like the next 10 seconds) which is being invaded (it’s in the blurb – not a spoiler). The bad guys come and invade the planet and they’re on their way to exit stage left. Next thing you know they’re on one of three ships evacuating the area: Alexander, Hypatia and Copernicus. This is when shit really starts to get real.

Now, I’m not going to go into spoilers, but it’s safe to say that you’ll probably end up screaming at the book and flinging it to the other side of the room several times during your read. The authors toy with your emotions so much that it’s as though they give you emotions for these characters, then they rip them out of your gentle and caring hands, tear them to shreds in front of you, stomp them into oblivion on the ground, then they take a flamethrower to them just to make sure you have no hope left. Once you’re left watching some particles of dust float off into nothingness, they present you with your original emotions as though this was some cruel and sadistic magic trick. And YOU LOVE THEM FOR IT. Sorcery. Pure, fucking sorcery. And I just want more. No, really, sign me up for additional torture please, I beg you.

Those characters I was talking about… would you like to meet them? They’ll just break your heart, it’s probably best not to… Fine!

Kady Grant: resident queen of sarcasm, computer genius, and all round bad-ass. We like Kady. While she seems like that annoying ‘perfect-at-everything’ character on paper, let me tell you now that she is not. Kady is vulnerable and a mess at points, and I love her flaws more than her awesomeness. Also she has pink hair.

Ezra Mason: your typical jock-type macho-man. Except when he’s staring lovingly at pictures of Kady and then he turns into a giant mush-ball. And then he talks to her (when they talk) and he becomes an idiot. He is your absolutely typical 17 year old male. They kind of nailed it.

AIDAN: Artificial Intelligence Defence Analytics Network, also known as the smartest calculator you ever had the pleasure of not meeting. AIDAN is a sexless AI system that has some bugs from some things that happen (*plot notes*) and it is not a happy thing. In fact, it’s a bit twisted… But is it not merciful? Well reader, I guess that’s for you to decide.

One thing I have yet to mention is the style of the story. It’s not your average novel (I’m not intentionally repeating myself). The entire story is pieced together from file notes, records of online chats, emails and transcripts of video surveillance among other pieces. It’s beautifully published, and while I had reservations about my attention-span due to this format, I had zero problems understanding what was happening and I was still glued to the book. In fact when you had to jump time a little it was easier to do so.

All in all, if you like space, sci-fi, huge explosions or sarcastic chicks with pink hair, then you should probably read this.

** Also, for all the parents out there: while it is relatively heavy on the swearing, you can’t actually read it because every expletive is blacked out (like a real government type document), so it’s really up to your own imagination as to what they are saying!

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