Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae Cover
Illuminae Inside


Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Series no. #1 of 3
Series: Illuminae Files
Edition: First Edition
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Format: Paperback
Pages: 599
Publisher: OneWorld Publications
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2015
Source: Bought
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.32/5
Avg. Amazon Rating: 4.8/5

Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Amie Kaufman | Jay Kristoff

So here’s the file that almost killed me, Director. You’ll find all intel we could unearth concerning the Kerenza disaster compiled here in hard copy.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


The year is 2575 and two mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice covered speck.

Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it.  With enemy fire raining down on them, Ezra and Kady have to make their escape on the evacuating fleet.  But their troubles are just beginning.  A deadly plague has broken out on one of the spaceships and it is mutating with terrifying results.  Their ship’s protection is seriously flawed.   No one will say what is going on.

As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth it’s clear only one person can help her. Ezra. And the only problem with that is they split up before all this trouble started and she isn’t supposed to be talking to him.

In Brief

I think I might actually be in love with a book. It’s an amazing and exciting story told through the means of collated e-mails, chats, surveillance footage summaries, interviews and more.


We’d expend more time combating her games and forcing her to get some work done than could be compensated for by her output.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I don’t even know where to start.

Actually, I’ll tell you the one thing I didn’t like about this book. One whole thing in the entirety of the book that bugged me: the chat/messenger pages. The chats themselves didn’t annoy me – it was the overuse of chat speak and abbreviations I don’t even know and “lol” started while I was still in high school. It really jerked me out of the story, especially if I had to go and google what an abbreviation meant. Given that we currently live in the age of grammar and spelling apps like Grammarly and auto-correct, my first though is that 700 years in the future we are not still going to be using LOL or AFAIK. I understand the struggle for something to seem authentic and I personally believe it could have been achieved with a lot fewer misspellings and chat speak.


First, survive. Then tell the truth.
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The book is utterly beautiful and, I feel, wholly immersive in the way it tells the story. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a transcript, it feels like you’re actually there in the room or watching the footage. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this invested in a story so much that I have displayed actual emotions in real life when things have happened. It almost makes me wish I’d written this review using GIFs but perhaps that would have been a little bit too spoilery.

This book was exciting and scary and amazing. It strings you along with hints of what’s to come until you can’t turn back because you have to know. Then it flies you full pace into the action that follows. The twists and turns were perfect and I totally didn’t see them coming. Now if someone had told me in advance what the result of the plague was, I likely wouldn’t have read the book at all because that kind of thing is not usually my cup of tea. Which is sad because I have been proven wrong twice now; once with a TV show and once with a book, and I absolutely love this book.

As tempting as it might be to ignore the dates at the tops of the page, don’t. I might have made that mistake and got a touch confused for part of the story until I realised we were looking at some data from before a certain point.

I’m 24 years old. I’m not a teenager anymore but I wasn’t your typical teen anyway either. Now, Kady and Ezra are 17/18 in this novel and that wasn’t a long time ago for me so I personally feel that they are believable. I love the sass and the attitude that reared its head from time to time… well, a lot of the time. I enjoyed the fact that while it’s not immediately obvious, Kady is good at computers (or a bit “nerdy” if you must). While we’re on the subject of believability, teenagers swear A LOT. Or at least, I used to. Now,

While we’re on the subject of their believability, teenagers swear A LOT. Or at least, I used to. Now, I understand the YA publishing industry and possibly parents of the audience are not just going to allow authors to publish works with profanity in them so I’m rather fond of the way Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff got around it by “redacting” them. That way you can either read it with or without it there depending on your preference and the characters still seem believable because they would swear, especially in some of the circumstances they find themselves in.

Now, the romance. Let’s be honest the romance is not the biggest thing driving the book. In fact, in the beginning, it’s mostly the opposite given that they’ve just broken up. But it does play a part that builds as the story goes on. I love that it’s believable – especially the circumstances surrounding the break up because people break up for stupid reasons all the time. The romance progressed nicely through the book though without completely overtaking the story. Plus, there were equal amounts of other kinds of love (e.g. love for a parent or family).

I seriously should have taken notes because I can’t even think about what to write anymore other than this book was so good. Even though it’s nearly 600 pages long, it doesn’t feel nearly that long but also some of the pages have very few words on it and focus on the visual aspects of the story. It truly was the space adventure I’d been waiting for and I’ve been recommending it to people ever since.

Opinions From Around the Web

  • The Book Smugglers – 9/10
  • Books and Bark – ★★★½
  • I couldn’t actually find a ★ review. Let me know if you do, as I’d love to link to it for balance.



I would very highly recommend!

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What did you think?

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. “I seriously should have taken notes” – Me when writing every book review, ever.

    I like this SO MUCH. It’s the first 5-star review that I’ve seen that doesn’t just ramble on and on about how amazing the entire thing is. I really liked how you pointed out the love for parent/family thing, because that’s something I totally missed in my review that is so worth mentioning since not enough YA books have them. I loved the plot of this book and it had me reading the entire thing in 1-2 days, but I just couldn’t give it 4 or 5 stars because I felt that it would have worked so much better as a TV show or movie. And maybe I was just being cynical about the romance?

    In any case, thanks for the link and great review! 🙂

    1. Hey there! Yeah, I’ve read Gemina and I’m currently reading Flame in the Mist, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Beauty and The Beast. Have I taken notes for any of these? Hell no. Haha.

      Thank you! I pretty much spent the entire time going “why can’t I just put in big letters ‘SO GOOD’ and be done with it!?” and “What are words?” So it means a lot that you liked this! Aah thank you. I wasn’t sure if anybody would know what I meant by that. But, I do like parent/familial love being shown in stories as it can so often be overlooked or just used as a plot device and nothing else. Although I have to admit, I thought it was more significant in Gemina. I think if I’d had the time to read it in a day I totally would have because it just sucked me in soooo quick (alas work always gets in the way – boo!).

      Well, I heard rumours there might be a TV/Movie something in the works? So maybe that will be more your thing!

      I dunno – I think everyone has their preferences when it comes to romance. I mean, I love a good romance as much as the next person but I don’t always like when it feels like it’s taking over a book that isn’t really a romance book, you know? But one thing I didn’t think of until I read your review a second time was that actually: “What I saw was maybe two teenagers who were in a YA novel and texted each other a lot.” Doesn’t this sound like every teenager in love though? 😋 Like YA books are GREAT at making you feel all tingly with their super awesome romance scenes but when you look at what it’s like in reality, it isn’t actually much more than this? Maybe a hell of a lot more kissing but they had just broken up? I dunno, I was a teenager a long time ago 😂

      That’s quite alright and thank you! I love to link to different opinions and occasionally talk about differing opinions in my reviews. It’s quite fun looking at other people’s perspectives while also saying why I don’t/do agree. It also helps me find lovely new blogs to follow! 😊 Besides your reviews had some good points! Particularly about the ‘teenage girl is the only one who can save the world’ trope! But also, teenagers have very different views about the world than older people do so maybe there was some merit to AIDAN thinking she was the only one who would listen to his reasoning?

      Oh my god that was long, sorry.

      1. First off, don’t apologize for long comments! I love them and this one is pretty long too (it was longer but then the “post comment” button disappeared so I had to shorten it so I could actually post it, so if anything doesn’t make sense/seems cut off, you know why).

        1) Are you reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (yes I am American) Stone for the first time because if so I will seal my lips and not say anything except that this series made my LIFE.

        2) In general, I don’t like it when YA authors present teenagers’ relationships as true love/more important than familial love (which is the case in 90%+ of YA books I’ve read) because it presents this unrealistic expectation of love/relationships that is just that, unrealistic.

        3) Yes! I heard Plan B bought the movie rights so I’ll definitely be going to see the movie when it comes out.

        4) Hmm, I suppose you’re right about the teenagers-having-different-points-of-view thing. But also you don’t have to convince me of anything related to AIDAN because he (it? she?) just so happens to be my favorite slightly-psychotic evil literary computer program.

        5) I’m glad you like to see things from different perspectives! I love to discuss my opinions and figure out how/why they differ from others’.

        1. Haha, no worries at all! Darn post comment button! (Although, having had this do it to me, if you press the tab button on the computer, it comes back). I like this numbering system we have going, let’s do it:

          1. I’m not actually, probably about my third time. I just struggle to get past book number two all the time! Eek! I do love the Harry Potter universe though and I want to read allllll the books.

          2.I agree 100%. I think YA needs to sort of embrace that YA relationships 90% of the time don’t last for whatever reason.

          3. *fingers crossed* *super excited* 😀

          4. AIDAN is amazing! Like I think the only fictional AI I might like better (but it’s not evil) is KITT from the Knight Rider series. :O But that’s TV and this is books so no comparison really… Actually, there’s quite a few I love in TV/Film!

          5. Yay! You can come back for tea and biscuits and chats anytime. 😛

          Sorry this took me so long to respond. I have been away for the weekend with limited phone signal. D:

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