History That Never Was

Home of Dawn Vogel: Writer, Historian, Geek

Review of Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015) is the first book in their young adult space opera Illuminae Files series. A mix of sci-fi, thriller, and mystery, Illuminae is a story told in found documents from interview transcripts to AI artistry.

Just a day after Kady Grant broke up with her boyfriend, Ezra, their home is attacked by corporate spacecraft trying to scrape the community off the community’s illegal mining project. Both Kady and Ezra make it off the planet, but they’re on two different ships. And as the ships flee the planet en route to a space station, things start getting stranger and stranger, until Kady and Ezra have no choice but to get involved in order to keep themselves and each other alive.

The found document format of this book is absolutely incredible. I read it on my Kindle app, but this is the sort of book I think might be even better in print, as some of the found documents are art in and off themselves, while still telling the story in a non-conventional way. The format is another part of the story itself, with different sorts of documents presaging certain events.

For me, Illuminae was like a mash-up of the best parts of a great young adult novel (with no love triangle, thank goodness!) with House of Leaves‘ visual storytelling and Battlestar Galactica‘s fleet of ships spread out across space. Even with the found document format, it was easy to get fully immersed in the story and the characters just from the documents they left in their collective wakes. If you’re looking for innovative storytelling and a book that’s filled with the best sort of drama and suspense, check out Illuminae, regardless of your age. It may be a young adult appropriate book, but it’s just as thrilling for an adult reader!

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