Illuminae – A Book Review


Sunny Urben, Reporter

Illuminae is the first installment in a three-part sci fi series following Katy Grant and Ezra Miller after the attack and destruction of their planet. Illuminae follows a group of refugees from an illegal mining operation on the planet Kerenza. After the megacorporation BeiTech attacks their home the citizens are forced to evacuate on three ships the Alexander, Hypatia, and Copernicus. The story then follows the outbreak of a deadly bioweapon, a homicidal AI, and the lengths we go to protect those we love.

Overall, Illuminae is a wonderfully unique book that provides a story with constant twists and turns. The eerie tone combined with the cold setting of space and the fear of corrupt leadership make this a book filled with suspense.

Above all, the most unique aspect of the Illuminae novel is the format, the entire book is a compilation of government records, private messages, audio files, and emails. This creates an entirely unique and one of a kind reading experience. The book is entirely without a POV except for files taken directly from the rogue AI AIDAN’s core. The only use of a personal perspective is from a non-human entity that is being driven insane, providing an unsettling glimpse into the nature of reason and sanity. The development of the two main characters as they try to adapt to an entirely new environment without their loved ones shows how differently we deal with traumatic events. Kady Grant escapes within herself, isolating herself from others and instead focused on investigating and answering all of her questions. Ezra decides to make friends, and rely on those around him while finding a new role for himself in this strange new world. These new lives are threatened however when the outbreak of a deadly bioweapon initiates a chain reaction that leads to the deaths of thousands. One of the weaker aspects of the novel is the world building. When trying to expand the universe of the novel by including new worlds and settlements it ends up coming across as distant and cold. Admittedly this lends itself well to the tone of the novel overall as the displaced refugees are estranged from their home and face the prospect of being killed without anyone to mourn them. The progression of the plot feels well-paced as it builds toward the climax. The frantic tone and increasing pace as it builds toward the emotional drop are wonderfully done.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of sci-fi and thrillers alike. For those looking for a light and fun read, this may not be your first choice. This novel is best suited to people wanting a slow building drama that will leave you thinking about the true nature of humanity and who exactly defines the truth you live by.