Where do I even start with this book??
First: It was amazing. Second: No, seriously, this book is SO. GOOD. Bold capitalized italics good. I read the entire book (600 pages) in a day. The more I think about it, the more I love it. The easiest 5-star book of the year for me.
I'm going to do this with as few spoilers as possible, but not sure I can contain the gushing, so you'll just have to deal. I'll put headings if you want to just read my opinions on certain parts. This review might be a bit long. But you should read it so you can get excited for this book.
PLOT: In the briefest, least spoilery terms, Illuminae is the first book in a new YA sci-fi trilogy that follows a group of intergalactic refugees fleeing their planet after it has been attacked by the largest mining conglomerate in the 'verse. While on board their rescue ships, they face constant threat from enemy ships, a lethal plague from bioweapons, malfunctioning AI, and forced military service. Oh, and there's some sappy awkward romance.
DESIGN: I knew nothing going into this book. I had snagged copy at BookCon, and the amazing cover and design of the whole book (even as an ARC) made me want to read it, even knowing nothing. You can see a glimpse of the cover(s) here. Essentially, the hard cover is a white background covered with text: some scribbled, some highlighted, some blacked out. Most lines are pulled straight from the book, while some on the back are actually regular back copy blurb (I didn't realize this until I sat down to read it, and even then there was so much random text I just dove into the book instead). Over this hard cover there's an acetate slipcover that blocks most of those words while highlighting others. And the book is praised by Marie Lu and Laini Taylor on the slipcover!
A quick flip through the book shows that this isn't your average book. There are white pages and black pages. Pages with photos made completely of words, diagrams of spaceships, and all different fonts and typography tricks. And all cursing is blacked out because "sure, the story kicks off with the deaths of thousands of people, but god forbid there be cussing in it, right?" (pg 1).
This book is a visual playground in black and white.
WRITING: You hold in your hands a 600 page file containing all the pertinent investigational documents for the Kerenza incident: medical records, pilot reports, security footage transcripts, hacked IMs and emails, AI "thought" records, diagrams, etc. The story is pieced together with these mostly official documents, woven together by the Illuminae group, who were kind enough to clip in a few notes. They all work together to complete an intriguing story that twists and turns the whole way until you, the reader, are left at the end breathless, talking to the story, wondering how two humans invented this brilliant book.
CHARACTERS: I love the characters in this book. Kady is such a regular, amazing, kick ass girl. She is terrified most of the book- breaking down in corners, crying in spacesuits- but she pulls herself up, uses her unique skills, and does what needs to be done, willing to sacrifice herself for the others on the ship. Her transformation throughout the book is so inspiring, and I can't wait to see her continue to grow in the rest of the series.
Ezra is such a geeky poet and I love him. I hope we get more from him in the rest of the series. And his friends, they added some great humor and realness to the book. Then we have AIDEN. I can't begin to tell you my feelings about AIDEN. No, seriously, I can't tell you without spoiling everything. "Am I not merciful?"
I really appreciated the strong female characters throughout the book with leadership roles. Its a shame that its a surprise, but most of the leadership positions in the book were held by women and it was great.
SUMMARY: Basically, I loved this book. The plot, the style, the characters, the world- I love it all! It was just so well done and so interesting. I liked going into this one not knowing anything. And if you read my plot heading and thought it wasn't your thing, you should still give this book a chance. Had I read the blurb, I may not have read it, either. But the way it's written is unlike anything else I've read and totally worth the ride. This book is going to be big. And I would be shocked if it doesn't become the next big YA book to movie adaptation franchise. It would play out so well on screen.
Unfortunately, this book doesn't come out until October 20th. Sorry. But the pre-sale price on Amazon can't be beat! Less than $10 for the hardcover, and TRUST ME, you want the hardcover, not the ebook. There's also a pretty awesome website that you should check out. New content is posted on the 20th of each month leading up to the release. Also, keep an eye on my YouTube channel where I'll post a book talk video about this book closer to it's release.
I received this book from the publisher at BookCon under no obligation.