Friday, October 23, 2015

ARC Review: ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Page Count: 608 (hardcover) 
Release Date: October 20, 2015 
Rating: 3.5/5 stars 

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 was sent an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. In no way does it affect the rating I gave the book or the overall content of my review. 

ILLUMINAE was one of the most complex, mind-boggling, intriguing books I've ever read in my entire life. It feels out-of-place to even call it a book, because it's so much more than that. It's a journey; it's an adventure taken through words and graphs and diagrams and instant messages and nearly every different medium under the sun. In terms of layout, it probably takes the cake for the most eclectic book on the market right now. 

The overarching storyline was fantastic. Space Operas are rare, and YA space operas seem to be a gem nowadays, so I was incredibly excited to dive into one. However, while the plot is fantastic, I did find the story to be rather confusing. Meaning, by the end of the book, I still didn't understand what really happened in the book. Since the story encompassed the use of so many different mediums and different character perspectives, it was very hard for me to keep up with the story. I felt an extreme sense of confusion throughout the better part of the novel. This may have been in part to the fact that the pictures were hard to read on the ebook version. Since I don't own a physical copy, I can't compare the two, but I do feel as if the story might be better understood when read in a physical copy. 

Now, time to break down the story itself: 

"You deserve every star in the galaxy laid out at your feet and a thousand diamonds in you hair.  You deserve someone who'll run with you as far and as fast as you want to.  Holding your hand, not holding you back." - ARC, 47%

The plot: The plot had a slow beginning, and took me about 50% of the book to really get into. By no means was it bad, but the intense world building that inevitably had to happen did contribute greatly to the slackened pace. Once that 50% mark passed, the book really picked up, and I was able to breeze through the rest of it within an hour. It's intense, gripping, and complex. Despite the fact that it was incredibly confusing for me, I still could not put it down. 

The Characters: For me, the characters were a weak aspect of the story. Although both Kady and Ezra had considerable character development- both individually and as a couple- I could not connect with them. I wasn't able to empathize with the nor with their situation. By no means were they bad characters, but their personalities lent themselves to be a bit dull throughout the story.   

The Writing: The writing is absolutely brilliant. It's completely unlike anything I've ever read before. It's crafty, witty, and just so smart.  For me, the writing is what really brought this whole book together; it was my favorite part of the entire book if judging this book on just the writing itself, it undoubtedly would've been a 5/5 star review. 

Overall, I gave ILLUMINAE a 3.5/5 star rating. I felt it was a happy medium between what I loved about the book (the writing, the uniqueness of the story) and what I wasn't particularly fond of (the characters,  the hard-to-understand mediums). 

Overall, ILLUMINAE was a good read. I would probably recommend it to anyone looking for a read that's literally out of this world, or someone that is looking for a more challenging read.  

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