Review: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae

illuminaeTitle: Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Young Adult Fiction, Sci-fi
Publication Date: October 20th, 2015
Knopf Books for Young Readers


Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was going to be the hardest thing she had to do that day. Then, her planet was invaded.

In the year 2575, two megacorporations start a war over the speck that is Kerenza. Kady and Ezra force their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit. But that’s not their biggest problem. A deadly plague breaks out on the fleet mid-space, the AI that’s supposed to protect them starts malfunctioning, and nobody in charge seems to be telling the truth. And while Kady is a super-hacker, she just might need the help of her ex-boyfriend who she swore she’d never speak to again.

I keep saying I’m not into sci-fi, but here I am reading and loving another sci-fi series.

I loved the format of this book. None of it is just straightforward, point-of view-narrative. Instead, the book is a compilation of different types of documents—transcripts, medical reports, emails, briefs, instant messages, etcetera. The instant messages were my favorite, because they were quick to read and since they’re basically dialogue it’s where you got to see the characters’ personality. The format really just separated Illuminae from anything I’ve ever read, and really introduced me to a new way of storytelling.

The tone of the books was also different than a lot of the young adult books I’ve read recently. It’s dark, panicky, and actually quite terrifying. That being said, it is still young adult and we have two teenage protagonists that add plenty of humor and sass. 

Speaking of characters, Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff are masters at character development. Kady starts as this very typical, snarky, whatever-attitude teenager. But she becomes very invested in the truth, advocacy, and even personal relationships.

I loved her relationship with Ezra—even though I only got to see it progress through their messages on a computer screen. They already dated and knew each other so there was no case of insta-love, which plagues a lot of ya novels. Like you see two people who really care about each other realize that again. Plus, Ezra is perfect. Like he’s so humorous, sweet, and even nerdy. I just couldn’t resist.

For me the most surprising character of all was AIDEN—the spaceship’s AI. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll say that the authors managed to make me see a computer as a character and one with an arc.

The main reason I deducted a star from this book is the end. It wasn’t the actual events or anything—and again, trying to avoid spoilers—but more so a specific style of document that makes up the majority of the end of the story just didn’t do it for me. The writing wasn’t my thing, and those documents just really slowed down the last half of the book for me. I kept skimming honestly.

Illuminae is a fun, crazy, and intense read. You can find it on Amazon and the authors at and Let me know what you think about it in the comments. Plus leave recommendations for my next book!


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