Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

Some books are just better going into them blind, don’t you agree? The story becomes more interesting and the anticipation hits levels unprecedented because you have no idea what each new page is going to bring. I love it. I don’t do it often but after reading Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristof, I may have to start doing it every single time I pick up a book.

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.

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.

I’ll admit, reading books that use different formats to tell the story can get annoying. They also have a tendency to disrupt the flow of the book which is probably the worst part. So when I saw that Illumine was written this way, I wasn’t thrilled. I mean there are about 10 different types of media used in this book. That is a lot! However, after a bit, it begins to blend seamlessly together. I didn’t even notice the change in media anymore as I was pulled completely into the story. I think Kaufman and Kristoff did an amazing job writing this together. It’s incredibly creative how they were able to come up with how to write this story. I would have never thought to use hacked documents to tell a tale. So kudos, y’all!


Our heroine is Kady and she’s a bit of a hacker snob. She’s a rebellious teenager complete with a snarky attitude and sharp wit. I really enjoyed her interactions with other characters because I was never sure what she was going to say next. You can tell that she knows how smart and amazing with computers she is, and she has no problems with letting everyone know that. I think I even remember there being a mention of her IQ being something like 147. But what I loved most about Kady was her strength. She risked so much to protect and be with the people she cared about. I also admired that she was willing to sacrifice everything she knew to do the right thing, even with such terrible consequences. It might seem a tad unrealistic that a 17 year old girl would do the things she did, but it’s a science fiction story and I like to think that everyone has that ability to step up in certain situations.

We don’t get to see as much of Ezra as we do Kady. He’s got that same witty personality but where Kady is all rebel, Ezra is the rule follower. He doesn’t break the rules and is more concerned with fighting for the military to save their ships, than finding out the truth about what’s really going on. I found him to be a nice balance to Kady. I also liked how he has some secrets that we come to find out later on in the book. BIG SECRETS. It actually blew my mind and never saw it coming.

However, my favorite character is AIDAN. He’s the artificial intelligence system running the entire ship. His POV in the story is definitely the most interesting because even though he’s just a computer, he is an infinitely more complex character than Kady or Ezra. I wasn’t even aware that a computer could have any character development, but it it’s possible and AIDAN’s is by far one of the greatest character development that I have ever read. As a computer, he is insanely logical and is constantly analyzing everything, trying to manipulate the people in charge of the ships. But the best part about AIDAN are his interactions with Kady, they are nothing short of amazing.

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has

The greatest thing about this book is that you truly have no idea what is going on or what will happen next. I found myself staying awake until 2am trying to finish this book because I just had to see where it was going! There are so many twists and turns so you never know what to expect. And like I mentioned before, this was even more intense for me because I wasn’t even fully aware of what this book was about. I thought it was all spaceships and space fighting like Star Wars… Yeah, nope. Not even close! It was so much more than that. And that ending! That cliffhanger is still blowing my mind and I finished this book a few days ago now. I have got to have Gemina right now! Seriously, I cannot wait for this sequel.

My only issue with this book was that it just tosses you right into the middle of the action. It took me about 200 pages to finally get caught up with what all had happened and why it occurred. I was really confused as to why their planet had been invaded and destroyed, but luckily it gets explained over time. It’s also really heavy on the science fiction vocabulary, so if you aren’t really familiar with that stuff, it may be a bit difficult for you.

This book is amazing, awesome, creative, and thrilling. Get it. Read it. Love it.

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

Has you read Illuminae yet? What are your thoughts on it?

Published by


Obsessive book reader and blogger. Texas girl. Sports fanatic. Lover of travel, video games, and scented candles. I also just really enjoy sleeping. #noshame

32 thoughts on “Review: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)”

  1. I completely loved this book and have bullied so many people into reading it. Gemina can’t come soon enough! Have you read Kaufman’s Starbound trilogy? They’re more romance-based and more of a straightforward narrative but I think you can really see how they lead to ‘Illuminae’ in the space setting and tone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read it yet but I have the first one on my TBR shelf. I have a few books that are the first in a series so I’m keeping them at the end until I finish all of my other books first. I’ve heard great things about it and after reading this one, I’m really excited to start it!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this book! I’m not ashamed to admit the main reason I brought it was because of the different format it was written in 🙂 but even so I was surprised by how much I actually loved it reading it. I cannot wait for Gemina to be released.
    AIDAN was definitely my favourite character as well 🙂 but I also loved the relationship ship between Kady and Ezra, I felt they kind of balanced each other really well

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m very shallow in that aspect 🙂 a lot of the books I read/buy are primarily because of the cover. I really hope we get to see more of Kady, Ezra and AIDAN in the second book. Have you seen the blurb for Gemina yet? It sounds amazing!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve heard so many people saying they loved this book and couldn’t put it down. To be honest, I doubt think it sounded that interesting at first, but seeing everyone loving it has me wanting to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book. This book was absolutely AMAZING – I agree with everything you’ve said! I loved AIDAN, in a sort of I-hate-you-to-start-off-with but then they just grew, as a CHARACTER. The ending nearly destroyed me – you know which bit I mean, right? When I thought everything would go wrong but it didn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yessss! AIDAN was an insanely complex character and I loved it. And I know exactly to what you’re referring to! That ending was insane and I thought I was going to die from frustration and then I didn’t. I think I literally yelled, WHAT?! when I finished it. Blew my mind haha.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s