Illuminae has received glowing praise from the bookish world as a whole ever since it was released. Bloggers would shout it from social media platforms and potential fans all over the world could be seen fangirling over the unique format and sheer amazingness of it all. It has been hailed the YA novel of 2015. The paramount page-turner. An incredible piece of literary innovation. A book so special with all the bells and whistles that you simply couldn’t pass it up.
So. What did I make of it? More importantly – did it live up to the hype?
In my opinion – YOU BET IT DID.
Sure, I’ve read novels before that stray from the traditional structure by incorporating other elements like reports and images to make things seem more realistic. But Illuminae truly does take this concept to the next level by completely revamping literary convention and making this a story like no other. It’s not just a sci-fi adventure – it’s a piece of art. Told through a variety of textual forms such as military reports, diary entries, transcripts from surveillance footage and more, there is never a dull moment. Kady and Ezra are two main characters whose lives are turned upside down because of an inter-galactic conspiracy, a corrupt corporation and an AI that seems to have a mind of its own. Throw into the mix a deadly virus, further attacks on the horizon and a general aura of chaos and you get a heart-stopping, violently thrilling book that will leave you reeling.
At the start it was a little difficult to truly connect with the characters since the novel is told in snippets and readers are left to piece these fragments together. However, by the halfway point I was well and truly hooked. The countdowns, the IM messages, the distress calls and interviews all created a sense of immediacy to the point where I felt if I stopped reading I would miss something big happening that could be on the very next page. On another note, Kady really stood out to me as an admirable character. Not only could she be tough, resilient and had an attitude, but was also ‘human’ as well. She had her own weaknesses but in the end was able to do the right thing and take on all that the universe threw at her. Characters like her in YA are inspiring, and make this a book readers will relate to. This is not a clinical sci-fi novel. Instead, it’s something so much more, and unique at that. It stands apart on the shelf not just because of how visually stunning it is, but because it is impressive both inside and out.
With massive plot twists and an explosive ending, I will be on the edge of my seat waiting for the second book in this trilogy. If you’re one of the people out there still waiting to experience this spectacular feat of literary genius, then it’s time to illuminate what’s been missing in your reading life so far.