Book Club: Illuminae by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
I have the small format paperback. It’s looks very much like a page from a visual diary. Oranges red’s and vivid yellows are superimposed over print to look like an inferno. Though it seems rather abstract in the description, it really does represent the story quite well.
The title is over the top of lines of white out, and the blurb at the top of the page by Marie Lu shares my opinion of this book. The one line synopsis, “First, survive. Then tell the truth.” It’s a real hook to picking up the book.
The cast is rather large as there are the crews of two space vessels to take into account. We do however focus mainly on a much smaller group.
I cannot pick between Kady and Ezra. The interviews at the beginning of the book really clinch it for me.
Aidan. I can just imagine his cold, detached, monotone voice. A whole lot of nope!
The space colony Kady and Ezra live in is attacked by a large company (attacked as in bombs and biological warfare) and in the evacuation they end up on two different space vessels.
The biological warfare starts to take hold on the ship Ezra is on and lies are being told to cover the tracks of the people in power.
It’s up to Kady and Ezra to bring the best outcome and save as many people as they can. No pressure!
I love the formatting of this book.
Presented as a dossier ready for review by a tribunal, I think it quite unique. It’s filled with interviews, third party recounts of surveillance footage, instant messages, diary entries, artworks, diagrams and emails.
Sitting at 599 pages I really thought I would struggle to get through this monster this month. I did, however, get it consumed in a day: almost one sitting.
It is totally immersive and the character voices are witty and believable.
I’m glad this is written by Aussie authors. There really is something satisfying about authors who are not American making it to the NY Times best sellers list.
Interviewer: – “We can talk about it if you like, or we can sit here and stare at the walls until our allotted hour is over.”
Interviewer:- “It’s up to you.”
[SKIP 51:27 MINUTES OF COMPLETE SILENCE]
~ Ezra interview.
Interviewer: – “You evacuated at that stage?”
Kady:- “You make it sound way more organised than it was.”
Interviewer:- “How was it?”
Kady:- All kittens and rainbows apart from the screaming and explosions.”
An array of oranges and yellows. Like an explosion overlaid with embers. It’s dramatic and eye-catching; and the writing on the cover suits the files format of the novel.
Ezra Mason and Kady Grant. A couple for a year, at the beginning of Illuminae, they have just broken up.
I don’t know if I have one. I really like the dynamic between AIDEN and Kady without necessarily adoring either of them on their own.
Probably Ezra. He’s a perfectly functional character, if he were meant to be minor player. Considering that he’s second only to Kady, he’s kind of lacklustre.
When a corporation finds that another company has been mining one of its planet’s resources, it moves to destroy the colony. Kady and Ezra are set to be collateral damage in the battle. Luckily for them one of the United Terran Authority battle-carriers is near enough to respond to distress signals and come to the rescue. Now, badly damaged, the remnants of this once great colony must keep ahead of the remaining enemy ship as they try to reach civilisation.
Just when you think that the Kerenzan refugees are in as much danger as they could be, they get thrown even deeper. With some of the survivors suffering from the effects of previously unheard of biological weapons, the others need to make difficult decisions about how to survive to six month trek to safety.
The ending picks up pace so much more than the beginning. It’s amped up and edge-of-your-seat stuff.
The format didn’t work for me. I don’t mind different styles, but structuring this in interviews, files and break-downs of video footage killed almost all of the emotion. It’s actually an amazing story. Fresh, vivid, with enough going on to keep the pace and story tight and taut. The panic of being chased by a determined and more powerful enemy, being at risk from biological hazards and not being able to trust the usual hierarchy is obvious, but would be more palpable if the story had been interspersed with files rather than being entirely files.
Interviewer: How did you make it out?
Kady Grant: I’m a lateral thinker.
Interviewer: Meaning you used your comput-
Kady Grant: Meaning I broke open a window.
The hardcover has a see-through plastic book cover. The actual hardcover of the book is a document with red handwritten notes on it. It 100% represents the story and the bright orange colours really draw the eye to it.
There are so many characters in this story that at times I couldn’t remember who was who. The main characters are Kady and Ezra; they recently broke up and during the rescue, end up on different spaceships. A lot of the communication is done between the two.
I can’t really pick an absolute favorite out of the group but I did like Ezra over Kady. I found him to be a very caring person.
I don’t have a character specifically, but the whole company of BeiTech was pretty awful.
Most of the beginning of the story is character interviews about what happened to cause the mass evacuations of the Karenza Colony, and reports of some of the survivors and the testing they were going through on their ships to put them to work in different fields. Pilot, computers..etc.
The illegal colony of Karenza is invaded and the majority of the citizens are killed; it’s a massacre. Some are able to escape to the three ships in the area, but are separated from their friends and family (if they even survived) and are given new jobs above the aircrafts, which are still trying to escape the BeiTech ships.
In the beginning of a war you expect a lot of upset, deaths, and that is what you get. There are twists, explosions, near death experiences. You name it!
This book was difficult for me. I had heard about it everywhere, and I loved the idea of how it was put together (all letters, reports, computer messages etc). But I really had a hard time getting into the story or liking the characters. I came to the conclusion (in relation to my own feelings of this book) that it is a work of art. Some of the pages, especially near the end, are very visual and artistic; they add a great experience to the reading of the story. I also enjoyed the more gruesome parts of the story; it makes the story dark and dangerous and crazy, which I love.
CitB:stay on task, grasshopper. we let the Alexander burn us out of the sky, your red hot love will be subsumed by a bigger, hotter flame
ByteMe: how do you even function in society?
CitB: it’s a struggle
How do you feel about computers being programmed to kill innocents if those deaths could save more lives than they took?
Hardcover, 599 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN 0553499114 (ISBN13: 9780553499117)