Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff // A sci-fi adventure that will make you think “… wait what just happened??!” in a good way

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 :’)

23395680From Goodreads:

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!

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If you have read this book, what do you think about it? If not, will you read it? Do you think there are careers that are expected for men vs women? What do you think about artificial intelligence, and do you think we will ever reach a point of singularity? What is your favourite audiobook?

28 thoughts on “Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff // A sci-fi adventure that will make you think “… wait what just happened??!” in a good way

    • Sophie Li says:

      I heard that the hard copy is amazing as well. People who have read the actual book tell me that they can’t imagine how it can be an audiobook! I think the two versions are quite different but both great! Hope you will like this book when you read it 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lois says:

    I keep reading amazing comments about the audiobook for Illuminae. I’ve never read an audiobook before, but I think this one would be a good one to start with. I recently re-read Illuminae and just fell in love with the book all over again. The creativity in the narration techniques is incredible, but beyond that, I love that I connected with the characters. Kady and Ezra had the best dynamic and I especially love how we see them communicate with each other and work to make their relationship work. The second book is just as good in my opinion and I hope that if/when you get to reading it you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Lois! Yes I love how Kady and Ezra’s relationship develops throughout the book. I heard amazing things about the print edition as well, and I definitely want to read it 🙂

      I just finished the second book and I liked it, although it didn’t blow me away as much as the first one. I think I miss AIDAN too much haha, and I wish he played a bigger role in the second book! Looking forward to Obsidio 🙂

      I just started listening to The Deal audiobook! It is so addictive so far and I have trouble putting it down haha. I love both Hannah and Garret!!

      Like

  2. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Ha, I love your idea of what a space opera is Sophie. I completely agree because when I hear ‘opera’ I do think of the opera so my vision of ‘space opera’ is the same as yours. 😀
    Also I am so so glad to see you loved this book. Illuminae is one of my favourite sci-fi books and while I haven’t listened to the audio book I’m sure it would have been just as incredible an experience as reading the physical book was for me. It certainly sounds that way from your review. Illuminae is full of incredible characters, I loved Kady and Ezra but I think AIDAN was my favourite.
    Great review, I’m so glad to see you enjoyed this book and I can’t wait to see your review for Gemina. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marie says:

    Such a great review, Sophie! ❤ I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much – I have to admit I'd be quite intrigued at the audiobook version of that one. I read the physical copy and it was such an unique reading experience, I wonder what it's like hearing it ahha, I'd have to try 🙂 I'm so glad you enjoyed it so much, I can't wait for you to read Gemina and to read your review – in my opinion, it was even crazier than this one ahha:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hi Marie ❤ Yes I would recommend the audiobook if you ever want to reread this book 🙂 I feel like I should try the print version as well since I heard so many good things about it!

      I actually just finished Gemina this week. Overall I heard a lot of good things about this book, but I don’t enjoy it as much as Illuminae for some reason haha. I missed AIDAN and wished that he had a bigger role in the second book!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marie says:

        Oh I get your feeling – I loved AIDAN and I wished we had more of him in the second book as well. I think I enjoyed Illuminae a bit more as well, but… it’s because Gemina felt a whole lot creepier and… it made me nervous 😅😅😅

        Like

  4. MichaelK says:

    OK, you know I am not a big fan of YA but your review made me to want to read this one! Sometimes I feel there is a global conspiracy to keep my tbr list growing!
    Unfortunately stereotypes are still thriving not only in the classic man/woman sense but also in many aspects of life. Most people in my experience pay only lip service to equality (and human rights and freedom etc etc) and turn into traditional reactionaries when they come face to face with someone fundamentally different.
    I haven’t listened to any audiobooks (yet) but someday I will!
    On the AI subject I think it is really uncharted waters so there are many concerns. About singularity I am afraid I simply don’t know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sophie Li says:

      Hello Michael!
      I think this one is a great place to start if you usually do not read YA! The plot is pretty amazing, and even though the characters are young, they are not immature 🙂
      That’s a good point when you mention that most people claim to not discriminate, even though stereotypes still exist. I think it takes time for people’s attitudes to change.
      Yes AI is a complicated topic! I’m curious to see how technology will evolve over the years. It is amazing how fast the world is changing these days with smartphones, laptops, etc. It makes me wonder how things will be in 10 or 20 years!
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    So so glad you liked this!!! I love this book- I agree it was fast paced, the plot was amazing and I loved the relationship between Kady and Ezra (agree it was an interesting twist to make them exs- it made it so good!!) And I love love love how AIDAN was done! Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. J.W. Martin says:

    Great review! I think I agree with you on all your points (except maybe where you refer to a “fellow girl”!) Kady was a pretty kick-butt character. Even as a male reader, I find it refreshing to see characters like her that don’t just sit and wait to be saved when they’re in trouble.

    And now that I’ve heard the audiobook is fancified, I want to experience that! I guess this one is going back on my TBR in a way. Or a To-Be-Re-Read list? A TBRR? I’m getting distracted. Nice job on the review. Glad you liked it!

    Liked by 1 person

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