I apologize in advance. This review is long and rambly.
Where to start with Illuminae?
Okay, here´s a curious thing about me: I can put up with a lot of stupid things in a book so long as I´m thoroughly entertained and it´s not getting too stupid.
Having said that, this is exactly what has happened while reading Illuminae: the first half of the novel has been entertaining and thoroughly engaging and I didn´t mind all the annoying stuff such as passive aggressive teenagers or ship captains, who kill off their best pilots for being disobedient, even though they are severely understaffed and are about to get blown up. And then there is the second half of the book and to be honest, I can´t even comprehend how boring and dumb the second half has been. I will come back to this later.
The most unique thing about this book is the structure. The novel is told in the form of a casefile, comprised of interviews, chats between characters, analysis reports of surveillance footage, after combat reports, diary entries and so on. I didn´t mind the structure and for the most parts I even liked the way the story has been told, adding a lot of excitement to the story. Of course, a downside to the structure is that I couldn´t build up an emotional connection to any of the characters. They could have died, every single one of them, and I wouldn´t have cared one bit.
There were passages I started to skim-read, though. Especially the chats, whether it being the one between the two main characters Kady (ByteMe) and Ezra (Mason, E), who mostly went along those lines
Mason, E, LT 2nd: Luv u
ByteMe: Luv u 2
Mason, E, LT 2nd: <3
or the chats between Ezra and his friend James, which are the most mind numbingly stupid conversations ever written
McNulty, J, Sgt: jus saw you head back to your rack wut news chum
McNulty, J Sgt: chum
McNulty, J, Sgt: mason
McNulty, J, Sgt: ezramaaaaaaassssoooonnlSrnbopNRB[onerb
McNulty, J, Sgt: I guess they didn´t shoot u
Mason, E, LT 2nd: nope, not me
McNulty, J, Sgt: good news for ms hottie and my young namesake
But still, I enjoyed this book up until the point where the AI, Aidan, gets introduced. And from this point onward, I will put everything behind a spoiler tag, because I´m going to spoil the heck out of this book:
The AI is supposed to calculate every possible outcome of a situation and choose the possibility with the best outcome and the least amount of casualties. Bear that in mind.
At the beginning of the book Aidan gets damaged in combat and basically blows up a ship with thousand of people on it because of reasons. Aidan gets then shut down. But alas, a battle ship is still in pursuit of the remaining ships, so after having fixed Aidan, the AI gets restarted to help the military in its fight against the enemy. After successfully having done that, the AI fears for no apparent reason at all that the humans are about to shut him down again. The solution to this problem: shutting all the doors and leave a corridor from airlock four to the bridge and unleash the lame-ass zombie armada on the bridge staff. Aidan´s objective: killing off the only dude on the ship (can´t remember his name, I think it was Byron), who can shut him down (the rest of the crew is apparently too dumb to do that).
Unfortunately, Aidan has forgotten to shut one door on the bridge, so Byron can escape and doesn´t get killed by the initial zombie attack. And another thing Aidan has forgotten is the fact that he isn´t fully functional just yet and the one guy, Byron, who is able to fix him, is the one he wants to kill in the first place. And to top it off: the virus, which made people into zombies, is airborne. Byron gets infected and then he starts chopping up Aidan´s servers with an axe.
Now is the right time to remind you of the fact that this AI is supposed to act according to the best outcome with the least casualties. So far Aidan has made one moronic choice after another.
And after that a whole lot of shit ensues. Aidan impersonates Ezra, luring Kady over on his ship, because she is a pink haired, hacker-genius kind of teenage girl with an IQ of 147, who is the only other person in the whole fleet who can fix him. Kady is then on the zombie infested ship, helping Aidan out (even though he has disclosed to her that Ezra is dead and she is massively pissed off about it) and rescuing the non-infected people on the ship (it seems like they have a hazmat suit for every single person on board).
Trust me, the rest of the story isn´t even worth mentioning, but let me just say that the layout of this ship doesn´t make sense at all and that zombies are lame.
The story hit rock-bottom for me when Aidan developed feelings for Kady.
It´s a freaking AI! He is not programmed to have feelings, the only thing this AI has to do is to make calculations. And Kady is just horrible. I would have lured her to an airlock and blasted her out into space. An AI is a better person than I am. That is just great.
I was even disappointed by the ending. Ezra isn´t dead. Yep, Aidan has lied. How shocking. The ship with Aidan and Kady gets blown up and Kady survives the explosion and the subsequent radiation poisoning. Not even Aidan is completely gone, he managed to load a part of him onto Kady´s tablet and he is self-regenerating …. what a load of rubbish!
Just writing about this book brings back all the rage, so I´m changing my rating to one star. Really hated this book.
Now I’ve finally read this book that I’ve read so much about on book blogs all over the internet. I was a bit concerned that the special ’format’ wouldn’t work for me but fortunately it did. This book definitely lived up to its reputation. I won’t go into the plot because it’s mentioned on the back cover. I’ll just say that I liked many of the characters. My only complaint is that the story is a bit too dark for my taste. Despite that, I’m really glad to have read it.