Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

March 22, 2018 Book Reviews 4

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffIlluminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genres: Sci Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 599
Source: Library
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

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.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Reading Challenges: Library Love


I should have read this on my Kindle so I could have shared ALL of my notes. I will share a few of the pictures I took. At least for the pages that have absolutely NO spoilers!

If you haven’t read the synopsis, and you love this cover. The first freaking thing I have to say is GET THIS, READ THE BOOK, NOT the synopsis. Once again, I picked up a book without reading the synopsis, but it added so much tension! I read the synopsis afterwards and I know I would have read this with it as well, but I love that I had no idea what to expect.

First of all, once again I have to love our library. I haven’t gone to the library in something like six years because they didn’t have much of a selection and when we moved closer, we’re something like two blocks away now, I figured why not give them a try. I walked in and saw this beautiful baby. Again, didn’t read the synopsis, just grabbed and ran.

The first 60 or so pages were iffy. I went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to read but decided to stick with it. I heard the third was coming out, so okay, why not. I’m not a fan of Sci Fi on a normal basis, especially space Sci Fi, but the characterization was starting to get interesting! Also, the pages are amazing. I’m going to be able to show a few down below. They get very dark and I had no idea why, other than they are in space, but the words go every which way! Love, love, love it!

This page sort of has a spoiler, which you won’t technically understand, but that’s why I’m keeping the pic really small. See how crazy these pages are? It’s so freaking cool! The black pages like this one with the skull are from a journal. It allows a bit more information for Kady, which I thought was smart since most of this is done through interviews, emails, and communication with other people.

So, this page does have a spoiler also! If you don’t want any of this spoiled, although again, it won’t mean much to you, and also won’t matter if you read the synopsis, this is just one page. I love the fingerprints and splashes of blood. It was right about this time, page 112, when I knew I was going to be in for the full 599 pages! Also, this is classified as Sci Fi, but it’s getting horror/thriller ish right about here. When my heart starts to palpitate because I’m imagining what all can go wrong? Yeah, we have a winner!

Speaking of characterization. One reason I loved this book is because the characters nearly float off the page. They are so real I feel like I could touch them. I felt for all of the main characters, and even some of the minor ones like the soldier McNulty, who befriended and worked with Ezra Mason. Ezra and Kady have a lot to deal with, not only what is going on in their prospective ships, but also with their relationship. He writes to her multiple times, to no avail, but never gives up. They both live their lives and move on, sort of, but the idea that their home planet was invaded and many of their families died, it seems silly to fight.

Kady, being the talented hacker that she is, is also able to get around rules and regulations to talk to other people. She also has a mentor that is willing, and able to teach her to make her even more talented. The banter between the groups of friends helps to relieve some of the tension that they have building, and honestly it helped relieve some of my own tension! Around this point this was getting seriously twisted and I could only imagine what was going to happen.

As you can see by the picture, this is about half way through. Already the pages are darker and more interesting than the rest. Every single page has something different about it, whether it’s from the dossier and has a paper clipped note attached, or something as crazy as this, they all tell a story, in a very purposeful way. The further I got, the more I noticed the darker pages. They also help to add to the action in the story. The plot is already amazing, but then seeing these wiggly lines of text, it adds another dimension that helped to keep me interested, although the story was fine enough on its own!

At page 294 I cursed out loud. A string of curses that may have looked something like the above picture had the words become present. From 295 until the end of the book it is a roller coaster of a thrill ride. There are so many obstacles for these characters, so much for them to get through, just to survive. I kept telling my hubby that he needed to read this NOW. I bought the books purposefully so I could continue reading and so he can start. I was even tempted to get them on Audible since he enjoys listening more than reading. But, that would take away from all the lovely work that was done to these beautiful pages.

All of this to say I’m flabbergasted. I didn’t think I would love this story in the first 50 or so pages, but I stuck with it because it seemed like it had something else to give. The characters were interesting enough that I didn’t want to give up on their story. I wanted to know if they were going to get back together or if they were going to deal with something more sinister altogether.

I purchased all three books just so I could fly through this, and then go back and re-read it. I have so many books in my TBR but this story just could not wait!


Rating Report
5 / 5
Character Development
5 / 5
Writing Style
5 / 5
Personal enjoyment
5 / 5
5 / 5
Overall: 5 / 5



About Amie Kaufman

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Illuminae (with Jay Kristoff) and These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light (with Meagan Spooner.) She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over thirty countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.






One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

4 Responses to “Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff”

  1. chucklesthescot

    The format is what put me off what sounded like a decent story. I’m not a fan of books using things like emails, reports, diary entries and various other things. I prefer reading a straight story narrative so I never picked it up. Seems a popular trilogy though.

    • Christina

      It was fabulous, but I didn’t mind the format. There is so much in this that I loved and I’m so glad I have the books. I’ll probably re-read it. But, yes, if that format bothers you, then you may want to ignore this one. Nearly the entire thing is done like this, as are books two and three. There are so many great books out there that you won’t even miss this one!

  2. Jennifer | Book Den

    I know I’ve read the book description before, but I have forgotten so thanks for the warning not to do it again. 🙂 I’m going to get the audio to this soon. I’m usually not a fan of epistolary books, but Mogsy over at The Bibliosanctum said they did a great job with the audiobooks to this series.

    • Christina

      My hubby was thinking about the audible version but he doesn’t mind the text, so he started reading the book today. I think he would prefer the audio though. So glad to hear it was just as good in audio! Hope you like it as much as I do. This will be one I re-read!

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