World building: 9/10
Writing style: 9/10
Character building: 8/10
My Opinionated Review
Illuminae was intense. The story was brilliantly executed, the storytelling method of using files was unique and engaging and gave a certain narration that benefited the intensity and shock factor of the plot. It was quite a roller-coaster ride, filled with twists and turns, multiple plotlines, several enemies, and many possibilities for the sequel.
Although sci-fi is a genre I am not that familiar with and I do not consider it to be for me, I decided to give this book a chance after reading so many rave reviews, even from people who do not like sci-fi. I guess even the genres that I do not normally like are able to impress me if the author creates an engaging and well-written piece.
This story is set in a far future, with spaceships and intergalactic wars, and planets, and a whole lot of death. The unique way of how the story is told in a file format from excerpts from chat rooms to transcripts just adds so much to the futuristic feeling and intense storyline, giving an untrustworthy narration. And in the midst of all the horror and tragedy are two teenagers – a badass hacker Kady, and a witty, delightful pilot Ezra, who have to deal with war and conspiracies and death, as well as their teenage romance drama.
This book definitely surpassed my expectations, and I had quite high ones, to begin with. I don’t know whether it is because the plot was intense and surprising, or because of my lack of familiarity with sci-fi genre, that this book really shocked me, in the best way possible. I respect the authors who really can deliver a shockingly bloody catastrophe, where nobody is safe. Although some miracle survivals seemed a bit too easy and unrealistic, taking the measure of tragedy into account, some happiness was long overdue. Besides, it is impossible to tell the story if nobody is left alive.
At first, I believed that this kind of storytelling, although very refreshing, will affect the character building. However, I again found myself pleasantly surprised, having cared about the leads very much by the end of the book. Kady is the heroine that I have utmost respect for, her character was just amazing. And AIDAN was one hell of a creepy ‘character’. I just find AI type of characters quite unpredictable, and the best kinds of villains, since they are driven by different kind of motives. The dynamics between Kady and Ezra were the light, fun and heart-warming additions to a very intense story, giving the book complexity and a touch of hope.
Overall, every page of the book has made me more and more engaged. This was so different from what I usually tend to read, both narration and genre wise. Although characters being teenagers identifies this book as YA, it definitely does not have a ‘light’ story, it was scary as hell. So if you are looking for some intense, surprising story, filled with twists and turns at every corner, this is a perfect book for you, whether you are a sci-fi fan or not.