(Spoiler free until told otherwise!)
I’m very surprised to be writing a review for Illuminae, especially because this book wasn’t even on my TBR (for any month, not just December). I remember hearing about this when it first came out, but it just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. You can imagine my surprise that this is the first 5 star rating I’ve given since starting this blog!
I listened to this as an audiobook and I can’t recommend that enough! I’m sure you’ve heard that this book is written in a combination of transcripts, reports, messages, black box information and interviews. To accommodate this, the audiobook had a stupidly large cast, it felt like listening to an eleven-hour movie and not in a bad way! It really helped me stay on top of the characters and made the narrative flow a lot more than I imagine it would have written down. The voice of Kady was perfect and Ezra was hilarious to listen to. It’s one of the few audiobooks I’ve listened to that I’ve found myself just sitting on my sofa with my eyes closed and taking it all in – usually I clean or plan or something, but I just got so engrossed in the story!
I’m not going to spend too long plugging here, I don’t even have an affiliate link for you, but this was the first book I read officially in the Audible app (I usually just listen on iBooks), but I can see myself using Audible a lot more in the future. I buy at least one audiobook a month so it’ll be more than worth it for me.
But anyway, let’s get back to the actual book. It will surprise you that I don’t have anything negative to say really (please don’t pass out).
In terms of plot, the novel was beautifully paced. The story begins on the planet of Carensa where we witness the destruction of an illegal colony of workers and their families. From there we follow the characters as they are rescued, mainly through the eyes of Kady, but with lots of chapters from other perspectives in between.
I was very impressed that this story didn’t stray completely into the unbelievable. I was worried, that because it was set in space they might think they can do anything, but overall I thought they managed to stay within the realm of possibility most of the time.
(Teeny tiny spoilers in the paragraph that follows – nothing explicit, but you’ve been warned)
Speaking of believable, let’s talk about Kady and Ezra. I mentioned this in my Glass Sword review, but I really appreciate romance that doesn’t hinder the bad-assery of the female protagonist. This is another prime example of that. Kady, although obviously in love with Ezra, didn’t let her feelings for him get in her way – kudos.
Despite the cuteness of these two, my favourite character has got to be the surveillance analyst – I got so excited when I heard his voice at the beginning of a chapter. I can’t really explain my love for him, I just enjoyed his quirky style… and he was British… and he was really funny – just allround amazing.
(Major spoilers ahead)
Okay, let’s talk ending.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I was so terrified that the end of this novel was going to come together too perfectly and ruin any reality the piece had established. But it didn’t, at least not for me! It was a fortunate sequence of events I’ll admit, but it made sense.
I can’t say I was surprised to find out Ezra wasn’t dead, I saw that one coming like a train. But I didn’t see the whole ‘his mother tried to kill him’ plot line… I think I made a little yelp when I heard that one. I figured she’d become a problem eventually, but I thought it would be in the second book, safe to say it caught me by surprise.
Overall, I loved this book and can’t wait to spend my January credit on the second instalment. I highly recommend checking out the audiobook if you have a long drive before or after Christmas – it’ll make the traffic a whole lot more tolerable. Like I said, I gave this 5 stars – definitely recommend.
Have you guys read it? Have you read the sequel? Please say it’s just as good!