Hellloooo crazy Space Opera + SciFi mashup. Right out of the gate I HAVE to start by commenting on Illuminae's formatting. This book has a strikingly imaginative layout and for that reason alone I gave it my all. Is that shallow? Maybe, but see for yourself before you cast that stone. Having said, that I must admit that I failed to connect with this one a bunch of times. I tried and tried and each time I couldn't get past the frenetic formatting and settle into the storyline. If you do choose to pick up this book my 2 cents are that you should not miss holding it in your hands and seeing it in hardcover... it is gorgeous!! The different ways the information is presented is definitely not for the traditionalist at heart BUT I was seeing a steady stream of glowing reviews from my favorite bloggers and GoodReads reviewers so I soldiered on. I told myself that I'd give it 1 more chance... 1 wholehearted try and if I still felt nothing at all for the chatacters or plot I'd give my copy to a friend and we'd part ways forever. Well, I'm here to report that perseverance pays off sometimes. Now I'm not going to fangirl gush about this one because frankly it's not co-mingling with the Greats in my Favorites Folder BUT it was most certainly a fun, unique, surprising read and really...can you ask for much more from a days worth of time and devotion? Nay I say, nay!
SO, without further ado, here is my quick rundown of the highlights (and lowlights):
- Illuminae boasts exceptional writing. It is evocative and exhilarating in both Form and Essence... what do I mean when I say it has beautiful Form? Just open the book up and ogle it for a while. See how beautiful the written word can be when it is no longer confined to plain old 1 dimensional paragraphs.
- This book has some absolutely stellar world building...tee hee. The SciFi -Tech portions of the book, like the uber realistic technical dossiers, are authentic feeling right down to the coffee stains and official stamps stippling some of the pages.
- There are a few twisty turns that are equal parts surprising and entertaining. No spoilers here, just know that you'll most likely not see the mind screwing reveals ahead of time.
- Next, I must give credit where it's due, this book has some terrific characters with lasting power. A few will stay with you LONG after the book is closed. There's even one that managed to worm his way into my heart even though he is a total psycho... a psycho with a soft spot? Maybe, but a psycho first and foremost!
- Then there is the extraordinarily unique formatting that was a little bit of a hurdle to overcome my first few attempts. Even though it starts off slowly, by the end it meshes and flows nicely. There are different methods with which information is disseminated. It is dispatched in an array of classified reports, IMs, emails, transcripts, schematics and more. Just when I started to get acclimated to the evershifting pieces of the puzzle, the pace, storyline and fear factor kicked into a higher gear... ramping up the Adrenaline and Dopamine levels... great mix!!
- AIDEN's introspective journey + existential crisis are interesting to witness. It is endearing to see how he/it learned about himself and his "true" nature. Does he figure out how to care for and trust others? Does he figure out how to navigate outside of the broad "harm no one" & "the needs of the many outweighs the needs of the few" directives under panic inducing, nerve jangling scenarios and extreme time constraints? How much of himself and/or others does he sacrifice? You'll only find out if you give this a chance(s).
- Kady is a SUPER BadAss and an all around amazing female main character!! I love her slightly snarky, Never Give Up attitude as well as her kickass hacking skills and ability to think under extreme pressure... it amazes me that even with her awesome Never Say Die attitude that her stubbornness, blatant disregard for her own safety and her dicey judgment calls don't lead to her kicking the bucket very early on.
- I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll be vague. There are creepy parts that are incredibly reminiscent of a certain aspect of my all time favorite T.V. show (and Movie), Firefly (a.k.a. Serenity), that I couldn't help but appreciate... scary bits and all. That comparison is an honor I don't bestow lightly and Illuminae deserves it.
- Unfortunately I wish there had been more scenes with Ezra and Kady interacting or just more Ezra Time as a whole.
Overall: After borrowing some of the MC's Never Give Up attitude, I gave this book more tries than I normally afford a read and was not disappointed in the end. This Space Opera has it all: great writing, awesome characters, fantastic world building, love, betrayal, a nasty outbreak, future tech, a psycho AI with a midlife crisis and nuclear warheads and more... much more. It was a fun read and I reccomend it highly.