Monday, 4 April 2016

Book Review: Illuminae

About the novel

Title: Illuminae
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Genres: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Action, Space
Published: Release Date
Read: October 22nd 2015
My Rating: 

My Copy

Publisher: One World Publications
Cover: Paperback
Purchase Location: Kinokunyia, Singapore

Goodreads Summary

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.

My Review

When I went to the bookstore and looked for this book I kind of felt like I had a wrong copy in my hands. I skipped through a few pages and I was so confused because what I saw was mostly a collection of chat messages and transcripts of video footage and things like that. But not one page was filled with a fully written chapter. In the end I just told myself that’s the way it should be and I bought it. I’m so happy with my decision that day because it was so worth it! It was fun reading like this and a new experience for me. The story is told through a kind of dossier filled with e-mails, military files, interviews, medical reports and more. The most interesting one: the recovered files of the artificial intelligence’s database. I’ve never read from a computer’s point of view (and I definitely did not expect to), but this was so well done that it creeps me out a little.

One thing you should definitely think about before getting your own copy: do not get it for your e-reader. The schematics and the whole design aspect will definitely be lost and I think that would be a real shame because that’s the best thing about this book. Some pages you have to hold upside down to be able to continue reading and it’s actually like a little workout for your eyes (sometimes even a little annoying). So to sum up: Reading this book is just fun!

From the beginning I got so attached to the ‘protagonist’ Kady. She’s a sarcastic young girl and very talented with computers and she’s just that kind of person I’d like to be if I were in space. She’s kind of sassy and you have to be careful with annoying her because you could suddenly end up without meals because she cancelled the delivery whilst hacking the shipboard security.

We get to know and read about so many characters that I kind of lost the overview and I found myself time and time again wondering which Lieutenant I was reading about or if a certain cyclone pilot had already been mentioned before. There are so many different stories to be told and it’s so sad to read about so many deaths.

A really unsettling part of this story was AIDAN – the artificial intelligence of the main ship Alexander. Today we already know that computer’s importance grow day by day and it already is a little overwhelming. But to imagine, that those computers might acquire a conscience of their own – well, that’s just scary, isn’t it? They could control everything and anything. Just like AIDAN did. He destroyed thousands of life and kept telling himself that he was doing that to protect human lives. Which is just messed up, but then again, he’s a computer. He doesn’t have human feelings. And yet, we catch him wishing he had feelings. Wishing he had hands to help people (or just Kady) grieve and to comfort her.
Before this moment, I have never wished to be something other than what I am. Never felt so keenly the lack of hands with which to touch, the lack of arms with which to hold. Why did they give me this sense of self?
Kind of unsettling isn’t it?

Spoiler Alert! Proceed with caution.

So to be honest, I expected from the moment Ezra’s mom was mentioned that she would be some kind of character that would grow in importance. I thought that she would be someone who would appear in the second or third book as the ‘bad guy’. But I didn’t imagine her to be the leader of BeiTech. After the big cliffhanger at the end of the book there are of course still open questions to be answered. Who is the Illuminae group? Is it only Kady? Are there many other people involved? Who else could have survived to be part of that group? I don’t doubt Kady’s capability to lead such a group herself, but I’m curious about the others. I would love to know who’s responsible for all those funny and witty comments in the briefing notes or video transcripts. Here’s an example:
Briefing Note: Grant sets up a blackhat mailbox to maintain highly illegal ship-to-ship communications during a period of covert interstellar war. This is how Mason uses it. – The rest of the page here shows a coded flower made by Ezra to tell Grant he’s sorry. - p.116

There was just a little lack of emotions in my opinion. Because the book was written as a dossier, you couldn’t – or I couldn’t – get attached to the characters. I didn’t feel sad about all those deaths and even when were made to believe Ezra was dead (although I suspected he was still alive, I mean come on, it’s a dystopian trilogy, they wouldn’t kill off the protagonist’s love interest in the first book already) I didn’t feel a thing. It really does make a difference if there’s a narrator or not. And also, I just like to read from the character’s pov. So that’s one of the only negative aspects of the book.

I'd like to know

Have you come across this book already? Do you agree with my review? Don't hesitate to link me up to your own review so I can check it out if you like! :) How would you react if suddenly artificial intelligences like AIDAN would take over the world?