10 reasons why I love Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Review,  Science-Fiction,  YA

10 reasons why I love Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae is a spectacular, captivating, and brilliant first book in The Illuminae Files trilogy. I can’t write review of this book like I usually do so like this book’s different format I’m also going to change my review format to 10 reasons why I love Illuminae. I buddy read this with Toni and we both think this is most amazing sci-fi we read so far.

10 reasons why I love Illuminae

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

Publication Date :
April 25, 2017 (First published October 20, 2015)

Publisher : Rock the Boat

Pages : 624 

Genre : Sci-Fi / YA

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Tea for this book : As this is adventurous and there is lot going on that you’ll need to have good memory, Saffron Tea goes with this.


Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship could be 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 biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.

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.


Illuminae is fantastic futuristic sci-fi that revolves around Kady, Ezra and crazy AI trying to save their lives from battleship of evil mega-corporation chasing them. The story is about love, friendship, trust, deceit, survival, plague, and space warfare.

10 reasons why I love Illuminae

1. Unique writing and format

Writing is spectacular, addictive, and fast pace. I haven’t read a book that has so many POV. Let’s see there is third person multiple perspectives, third person omniscient, first person narrative from AIDAN’s POV (in black pages), and Kady’s first person POV through her journals (also black pages).

Format is brilliant. The story is written through emails, transcripts, journals, chats, medical reports, files, articles, digital graphics (if that’s what it is called)… I hope I haven’t missed any! At first it was a bit intimidating to read book in such unusual style and it sure a risk author took and I’m glad they did. This plot wouldn’t have worked in normal format. Because of this unique style I was hooked to story from the very first page and I didn’t even feel this was over 600 pages long. If you pay enough attention to all details like date and time stamp and IDs used for chat, it never feels confusing. I also can see this format might not work for all readers and they might feel confused or bored in first 100 pages. I also loved the way scenes outside the ship were written like poetry.

2. Addictive and complex plot

Plot is most interesting. The beginning is fabulous with BeiTech attack on Kerenza, how Kady and Ez broke up just few hours before attack, and how they got out of attack but separated in different fleets- Ez on Alexander and Kady on Hypatia- that is chased by Lincoln, BeiTech’s dreadnaught. Hypatia isn’t battle carrier but Alexandar is however it is damaged in war with other Beitech dreadnaughts that also caused glitches in AIDAN. Enemy on their tail and also within the fleet made it super interesting, intriguing and excellent story.

3. Fabulous characters

Kady isn’t easy to like. I didn’t warm to her until I was almost in the middle of the book. She is layered character, complex and unpredictable just like AI of the book. She is smart, amazing hacker, driven, determined, and headstrong. In first half of the book I felt she was selfish and reckless. She acted like she knew what is best, not just for herself but for everyone. In her behavior I see a teen who is forced into so many sudden changes and environment and she is dealing with mental health issues and is stubborn enough to not get help for it but I like her spirit of doing something to have some sanity and use the drive she has to find out things and truth. It was amazing to see how my opinion changed about her in second half. She turned out brilliant, brave, and selfless. the way she handled AIDAN, navigated ship, all death around her even in hopelessness and what she discovered was admirable. I also enjoyed reading her thoughts through her journal.

Ezra is easy to like from the very first page. I liked what AIDAN said about him, he was easy to read. He wears his heart on sleeve. He is romantic, caring, and courageous. We get to know him through his conversations with Kady and other characters in first part but in second part Kady takes over the story. I hope to know him more in next books.

AIDAN stole the show. AIDAN – Artificial Intelligence Defebce Analytics Network. In first half, I didn’t like what he did. It sure is hard to believe how he could override the direct command. What and why he did thing was mystery but as that mystery unraveled and his perspective started showing more and more I started liking it. It kind of replaced Ezra in second half. I wasn’t expecting it to turn into one of the main character which is best surprise for me. With all horrible decisions it took, AIDAN felt more human to me. Its feelings, thoughts, ideology, how it processed things and even its own feelings are amazing and I liked what it did in the end. I have feeling it is going to be my most favorite character in this series.

I also liked secondary characters- Byron, Syra, Torrence. They were perfect in their role and took some hard decisions to survive in toughest situations.

4. Many twists and turns

I lost count how many there are. All twists and turns are great, so well written, and made story fast paced,. Half of them I could see coming and most of my theories turned outright, if not entirely. But there were some that are utterly mind-blowing. Best of all is what AIDAN did to Torrence and Kady, it turning human and likable, and the end twists.

5. Setting of fleets

I loved design of all the fleets. Most of story takes place on Hypatia and Alexander. It was interesting to read how people lived and worked on these ships, technical terms and operations. Even with its vast structure, subplot of plague gave them perfectly dark and claustrophobic feel.

6. Theme of Survival

Survival is at the center of the story. Each and every act, decision and character is driven by one sole purpose, survival.

7. Zombies

The plague and symptoms of Phobos is interesting to read. I have seen mindless zombies in movies and stories but zombies with brains are scary and this had that. It made story dark and tense. I’m curious to see if it has any treatment or not in next books.

8. Amazing dialogues and conversations

I loved conversations between characters. Specially AIDAN’s conversation with Kady about life, death, and human nature and feelings. Chats between characters were also great.

9. Best last 100 pages and end

I flew through last 100 pages. There are so much action, nail-biting tension, philosophy, and revelations. These last pages and end surprised me most in the book. Like I said I could see most twists and turns coming but this part is unpredictably filled with uncertainty and so many possibilities.

10. I can’t think of a single thing to complain about

Overall, Illuminae is spectacular, captivating and brilliant first book in The Illuminae Files trilogy. This sets high standard for sci-fi novels.

My and Toni’s favorite Quotes –

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

“You picked a hell of a day to dump me, Kades.”

“You deserve every star in the galaxy laid out at your feet and a thousand diamonds in your hair. You deserve someone who’ll run with you as far and as fast as you want to. Holding your hand, not holding you back.”

“She is catalyst.
She is chaos.
I can see why he loves her.”

“Number do not feel.
Do not bleed or weep or hope.
They do not know bravery or sacrifice. Love or alliance.
At the very apex of callousness, you will find only one and zeroes.

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

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

“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.”

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance.”

Thank you for reading! Let’s chat…

What do you think about this book and review?
Have you read any book by the same author?
Which is your favorite sci-fi book or movie?

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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