This is the book review where I will absolutely gush about Illuminae, a YA space opera that is a combination of Battlestar Galactica, the Walking Dead, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. This book was un-put-downable, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.
First: We must speak about the format. This book is told as if someone was looking back and investigating what happened, and the events unfold through a review of interviews, video transcripts, classified documents, and internal messages. The book itself is gorgeously laid out, filled with images, redaction, unique charts, illustrations, etc. It really is a work of art. I mean, look at these images below! I myself listened to the audiobook, which was also amazing, with a full cast, sound effects and everything. It was like you were listening to a movie. Really well done!
Illuminae is set in the fairly distant future, where intergalactic mining is controlled by the United Terran Authority. The story begins by an illegal mining outpost, Kerenza, being attacked by rival mining conglomerate Bietech. Main characters Kady and Ezra broke up the morning the attack, but still are friendly enough to flee the planet together. They end up on separate ships as part of a small fleet fleeing the attack. The jump drives on the ships are damaged, and so they are forced to undergo a six month trip to the nearest jump point, before they can return to more populated space. The catch: they are being chased by a Bietech vessel that wants to kill all the survivors so word of the attack will never spread. Plus, the main ship, the Alexander, has an artificial intelligence system, AIDAN, that was damaged in the attack, and begins to make independent decisions with sinister results. Plus, a bioweapon used by Bietech in the original attack mutates into a super-freaky pathogen that begins spreading through the fleets.
Kady and Ezra are adorable and hilarious and super sarcastic. Kady is a talented hacker who starts digging when she realizes things aren’t as they seem in the fleet. Over the course of the book, they grow closer (seen through a series of IMs), and fall back in love. This all against the backdrop of some seriously crazy stuff that is happening throughout the fleet. There are so many twists, turns, and chilling moments in this book, it’s funny, romantic, exhilarating, and suspenseful all in one package!
I cannot recommend this book enough! I am heading straight to the sequel, Gemina, which tells another piece of the story of the attack. Apparently, the book has already been optioned for a movie, which is absolutely perfect.