A Series of Serious Problems, In Space – The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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

illuminae

In the year is 2575, Kady Grant thought her biggest problem was facing her recently dumped ex. Until her planet Kerenza IV is attacked by a rival corporation, and then it’s a race to escape on the evacuating fleet. However safety isn’t so easy, the enemy dreadnought the Lincoln is on their tail and gain fast, meaning it’s a deadly countdown until the fleet is caught. The last thing they need is anymore problems. But when one of the ships is destroyed and the Lincoln is nowhere to be found, the real trouble is only beginning.
Determined to find out what is really going on, Kady finds herself hacking into the fleets’ databases to discover the truth that no one will admit. Yet some answers are just out of her reach, and the only person who can help is the last person she wants to speak to, her ex, Ezra Mason. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Spoilers… no hacking necessary.

Illuminae is the first book I have added to the Favourite shelf of my Goodreads since A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab, and I do not add books to it lightly. It is reserved purely for books that I cannot put down, ones that blow me away with marvellous plot and excellent writing, who’s characters have a permanent hold on my heart. I don’t know what I was expecting of this series, I knew it was highly acclaimed by many people, and I love a bit of Science-Fiction, but I wasn’t ready for the ride each book took me on.

So I was actually going to start my review on a different point but it was so hard not to mention the format. It was unlike anything I had ever read. To be honest the only thing I can think of that is anything like this is The Princess Diaries, and that’s only because its a diary; otherwise they are as different as chalk and cheese. Told in something similar to an epistolary novel, both books are filled with interviews, chat-room conversations, audio and visual transcripts, and AIDAN’s own personal data files. It is a style so original to me that it immediately stands out as one I am unlike to forget. Though it did originally take me about 100 pages to get to grips with reading this style and remembering all the key information, it’s story gripped me so much I had to push through this initial problem. It’s so unique and beautiful that a physical copy of the series is a must.

There was so many uncertain components that I was never sure what was going to happen. Never. The twists were so unexpected and exciting, but not unnecessary. At the start of Illuminae I had so many questions, to be honest I was rather confused – there was a lot of terms I didn’t understand (spacey ones), and it throws you into the middle of the conflict. And I mean the middle. Kady and Ezra are both being questioned about the day of the BeiTech attack and the action starts instantly. The format helps to keep key pieces of information and plot points from us until necessary, as all the data the Illuminae Group have collected is arranged chronologically. The main characters are also in the dark about so many different things that we are kept there too, it helped keep me connected to the characters. It is the same with Gemina too, the Illuminae Group are hiding things right till the end for a reason, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat all the way through. Who’s dead? Who’s the enemy? What can you believe? I’m still not entirely sure and I love it.

Even though we do not exclusively follow a point of view in the traditional sense, once I knew the characters I did not feel detached from them, which could have been a major problem in a book of this style. Kady grew on me slowly, her harsh edges and ‘I-don’t-care’ demeanour takes a moment of getting used to, but she’s so smart, caring and snarky that it’s hard not to care by the end. I was gutted to find out that Gemina focused on different characters living on Jump Station Hemidall, the intended destination of Kady and Ezra’s shipHowever, both Hanna and Nik are excellent characters and totally different from the leads in Illuminae. Every person in this series so far is interesting and flawed, they are human and have genuine human reactions to the events that surround them. They are not destined to save the world, they are people trying to do the right thing.

I can’t talk about these books without quickly mentioning how unprepared I was for the horrors of the deadly virus in Illuminae, and the creepy parasitic alien worms in Gemina. These two plot points add such a uncontrollable danger to the books, and the writing when describing these scenes… I’m pretty sure I’ll be scarred forever. They were so vivid and, frankly, terrifying, that I had to look away a few times.

I loved these books. They were so gripping and it’s peculiar format has kept me thinking about them still. I can’t wait for Obsidio, I’m not one for wishing time to pass, but March 2018 can not come quick enough.

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