Did you know that Illuminae is considered a space opera? It makes me wonder: What makes something a “space opera”? And why is it called a “space opera” anyway? When I think of space operas, I think of people singing at the top of their lungs while floating in zero gravity, accompanied by an entire floating orchestra.
Anyhow, I digress :’)
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.
Science Fiction / Young Adult / 608 pages
I haven’t read sci-fi in a long time, and I realize that I’ve been missing out, because Illuminae kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. (Note that I listened to the audiobook and have never read the print edition.)
I absolutely love the main character, Kady. She is just so awesome. As a girl, it was empowering to see another fellow girl kick butt. She is capable, independent, and unafraid to take charge. I also like that Kady is a hacker. When I was in university, there were way fewer girls in engineering and computer sciences programs compared to guys. And I feel that is because these are subjects that guys are encouraged to be interested in, while girls are encouraged to go into health sciences or the humanities. I know that when I was growing up, I was always nudged towards the health sciences, and even though I loved computers and programming, I never even thought of pursuing a career in it. Long story short: I am glad to see a female MC who kicks butt when it comes to computers; perhaps this will inspire readers to think beyond conventional careers that are expected of women or men.
I like the relationship dynamics between Kady and Ezra. We read about crushes and new couples all the time in YA fiction. Most of the time, Girl A meets Boy B and, after some fillers and plot twists, they fall in love and live happily every after. The fact that this novel focuses on the relationship between Kady and her ex-boyfriend is refreshing and adds an interesting twist to the story.
I also love how AI is represented in this novel. Although the AI (named AIDAN) is a computer, he appears to have thought and a personality of his own. It makes you wonder whether artificial intelligence can ever reach the point of singularity: Can artificial intelligence ever surpass human intelligence? And can artificial intelligence ever have thoughts, emotions and personality?
The plot is just awesome. When I finally think I know what was going on in this book, EVERYTHING CHANGES. Repeat this about 10 times and you get the gist of this book. I absolutely love the crazy twists and turns in the story that keeps you guessing. There really is no dull moment in Illuminae.
The format of Illuminae is unique, in that the story is presented in a series of classified documents, censored emails, interviews, surveillance camera transcripts, etc, rather than a straightforward narrative. This is a unique and interesting way to present a story, however I wonder if it is necessary, and if the story can be better expressed in the conventional format.
This is THE FANCIEST audiobook that has ever graced my ears. Ever. I love that there is a full cast, sound effects and even background music. All the voice actors are amazing and the directing is superb. This audiobook is an adaptation, because an unabridged reading would be impossible given the format of the book. However, I think the director and the cast handled this creatively. If you were to listen to one audiobook in your life time, listen to this one.
The Bottom Line:
Illuminae will sweep you off your feet and keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. If you are looking for an addictive science fiction series to dive into, look no further!