Reviewsday: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

luminaeEven though my daughter raved about it, I Initially didn’t want to read this story. It took meeting the authors to change my mind, how they pitched the next story in the series really piqued my interest. I read Illuminae and loved it! There were parts of it that were so funny I literally laughed so much I cried and could not see the page. Other parts were so emotional I cried again (yes, I do connect to my characters when I read). It was written in such a realistic way that it all made sense; bad things do happen even when trying our hardest to make it better.

Set in the distant future, Illuminae tells the story of an attack on a mining colony light-years from anywhere. Three spaceships answered the SOS from the planet Kerenza. With the main ship, Alexander, partially damaged, it was a slow trip to get the refugees to help, and everyone lived in overcrowded conditions on-board. The remaining attack dreadnought, Lincoln, was not totally disabled during the battle at the colony, and it chased the small fleet of refugee ships, including the Alexander. The crew on the Lincoln were intent on removing all evidence of the events on Kerenza, and they were desperate to stop the Alexander getting to help and reporting the incident. The trials the passengers and crew faced as they journeyed made for interesting reading. Many of the civilian refugees were conscripted into military service as a lot of the crew from each ship had been lost in fighting off the attack on Kerenza.

Illuminae is mostly told from the point of view of Ezra and Kady, two seventeen year old refugees who managed to escape the planet and ending up on different ships in the aftermath. Ezra is trained as a fighter pilot while Kady works at hiding her ability as a computer hacker. When events go pear-shaped Ezra and Kady both draw on strengths they didn’t know they had to save as many people as they could. The bravery in these young people is so inspiring. I can now see why the inscription in my daughter’s book from Amie is “Fight like a girl”.

There is an unusual format to Illuminae, it is written as a series of memos, IM’s (Instant Messages) and emails between staff and friends (complete with coffee stains and margin notes on the printouts) as well as datafiles from AIDEN, the Artificial Intelligence that runs the spaceship “Alexander”. Very quirky, but I liked it. You would have thought – as I did at first – that this format would make it very difficult to follow a plotline, but it was surprisingly easy to read.

I love the Star Trek universe – having watched most of the original series as well as seen all Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise and the movies. I think that is one reason I so fell in love with this book, it has elements of Star Trek as well as strong characters full of sass, bravery grit and tenacity.

~ Kerryn, QBD Northland

On Key

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