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Incredible YA SciFi | Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

You do NOT want to miss Illuminae!!!

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Title & Author: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

Genre: Young Adult – Science Fiction

Release Date: October 20, 2015

Series: The Illuminae Files #1

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. 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 enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.”

Wow Factor x 100

Illuminae is one of those books that looks totally unsuspecting. You’ll be taken in by its cool cover and blacked out words, but the real magic lies inside its 608-page thickness.

The story is told as a compilation of files – documents, IM chats, space fleet schematics. At first, this felt very cold to me.

The story is not told in a first or even third person perspective, so it was hard for me to feel connected at first. When you move a characters feelings and emotions, things can feel a bit dry.

Also, there are three space ships in play, and honestly I was confused the whole time who was on what ship (it matters in the story). But, I was able to get past it because very quickly things get EXCITING.

What drove the story for me was Kady and Ezra. They’re a recently broken up couple (awkwaaaaaard), and they are thrown together to figure out what’s really going on because there are secrets among the silent stars…

Around page 172, things start to really ramp up and then I hit a point of no return. I literally could not stop reading, and I was glued, I mean GLUED, to the pages. Illuminae had some of the best action and suspense I’ve read in a long time. SO AMAZING.

The slow and steady build-up of action in the first part of the book has the BEST payoff. GAH.

Kady and Ezra have this great rapport and their humor lightens up sometimes deep and political moments. It keeps the story from becoming too distant or removed.

I wish I could say more about the plot, but I want you to feel as surprised and delighted as I was.


Sometimes you finish a book and you just stare at the closed book with you mouth hanging open. This book had that effect on me, and I was left in awe. The careful weaving and build-up to an incredible finish made me know Illuminae was a stand-out read of the year – highly recommended.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.