Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)

Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Feb 8, 2016

Absolutely compelling action and suspense in a wonderfully unusual package. I never wanted to set it down, and now that I'm done I want to keep reliving it.

The book is presented as a case file of "primary" sources documenting an incident meant to be covered up. An incident that included the deaths of thousands from a small, illegal mining colony on the far reaches of space. The Illuminae Group has cobbled together transcripts of radio communications, chat logs, interviews, described security video footage, legal documents, arrest reports, and more. There's an endless variety of form, voice, and format that makes it real and immediate. It adds to the sense of mystery and suspense, as readers feel they are piecing together the puzzle along with the documenters.

From the start, the tale uncovered revolves around two teenagers fleeing the destruction of their home aboard a small fleet composed of one wounded military ship and two science vessels, chased by the last remaining ship from those that attacked them. Kady emerges as the main protagonist, a computer hacker who chats under the screen name ByteMe. The same attitude that led to the name makes her a strong, independent, gutsy heroine to root for. Ezra is an excellent romantic complement and a well-developed character in his own right.

I find it generally annoying when reviewers reference other works, but I feel the need because it's what I was thinking the entire time I was reading the book--it took me to the same happy, immersive place these other stories did: This book feels like Battlestar Galactica (reboot), except instead of Cylons the fleet has to deal with being infiltrated by a virus that turns people into something like the Reavers from Firefly and a faulty artificial intelligence along the lines of Hal from A Space Odyssey. I can see why Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment and Warner Bros. are adapting it into a film.

The book's format seems like one of those that can't be translated to audiobook narration, but the recording, with it's extensive cast and liberal use of sound effects, is stellar.

This is the kind of book you geek out with while reading and want to geek out about after. I enjoyed it immensely.

Written by Chris K.

Experts estimate that the average cruising airspeed velocity of an unladen European Swallow is roughly 11 meters per second, or 24 miles an hour.

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