Illuminae – Review

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Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

There was a lot of hype about Illuminae.  And I’m always a little concerned reading books with so much hype since it sets my expectations so high.  As most of it had to do with the unique format the authors chose to tell the story and not the story itself I found the hype wasn’t as impactful.

What I liked:

 The unique format really worked for the story.  Told through a series of memo’s, transcripts, diagrams, and emails the story reconstructs the events following the invasion of a distant planet in 2575.  The book looks intimidating and difficult to follow, but it’s not.  The format really works to weave the story together. It’s fast paced and the 600 pages really don’t take as long to read as you’d think.

 The story itself was a good sci-fi.  The world building was done well, especially considering the restrictions placed by the format (it’s hard to world build through a memo).  I would have liked to see a bit more of this, but again, given the restrictions of the format it really worked.

The action was fast-paced despite taking place over months.  The story kept me engaged and interested.  And the characters were likeable.  Even anti-social Kady left you rooting for her.

 What I didn’t like:

 While the world building was well done, I had some issues with the language used. Much of the story is told through recovered documents that would be written by military or scientific personnel.  I felt that they were often written in a language that was too casual and “readable”.  They were not nearly as technically precise or stiffly worded as communications of that type often are.  I know that many would have been written during periods of stress but the writing style employed by the people who write those is usually different. While this made the book enjoyable to read, it did lose some of the authenticity for the documents.

 The other issue I had with language had to do with the actual language used.  Set almost 500 years in the future I would expect to see a greater evolution of the language.  There was very little slang or new words used.  I find it hard to believe that current-day English is what we’re going to be using in the future.

It was highly readable and I was able to overlook my issues with the language used (really, it didn’t interrupt the flow of the story, just would have led to richer world building). 

This is a good science fiction, especially for those that are new to the genre.  With plenty of plot driven action, it’s easy to accept that it takes place in space. I recommend this book and give it 4/5.

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