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review 2018-07-05 18:26
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (audiobook)
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

Series: The Illuminae Files #1


Apparently I'm the odd one out here since I wasn't enthralled by this book. I'm pretty sure I would have abandoned it if I had read a written copy since I am not a fan of epistolary novels. And this is like the worst kind of epistolary novel. As an audiobook it mostly worked, and I probably would have rated it higher if it weren't for the annoying young adult romance overtones (yes, I know it's YA) and if the last 2-3 hours hadn't really dragged. To be honest, the YA aspect wasn't that bad (for a YA novel) but I still rolled my eyes at some of it. But those last hours with Kady on the Alexander...yawn. Also, the general format of the book kind of gave away some of the ending.


What is about? An attack on an illegal mining colony by a rival corporation leads to several ships fleeing with refugees on board trying to make for a safe harbour. Biological weapons were used in the attack, which complicates matters, of course. Cue zombie psychopaths.


I'm not sure if I'll read the next books. It looks like my library has the audios, so maybe? Based on what I've written above, perhaps I'll steer clear.

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review 2018-06-25 14:39
"Illuminae - The Illuminae Files #1" by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff - highly recommended
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

"Illuminae" is an engaging, exciting, and fundamentally original Science Fiction Must-Read novel. Alternatively, it's a Must-Listen-To full-cast audiobook, which changes the novel into an engrossing radio play. 


"Illuminae" is the story of an attack by a corporation on a rival's illegal mining colony the is interrupted by a navy warship and the aftermath, when thousands of survivors, crammed onto two civilian ships and the, now crippled, navy warship, make a month's long run for safety, pursued a Corporate Dreadnaught that is determined to eliminate all witnesses to the attack.


The story is presented as a series of reports, recording conversations and analysis security video footage with no prose binding them together. This may sound tedious but it's done with such skill and with such a clever structure that I believe the authors have produced a novel form that is fundamentally disruptive.  It's like the leap from "Tristram Shandy" to "Pride and Prejudice" in terms of form. This is the bloom of an almost post-literate generation that has freed itself from linear text and the straight-jacket of grammar that keeps writing on the ground and has taken to swinging through the trees with the confidence of those who've grown up comfortable with Kanji/Emoli/Gif ideography.


"Illuminae" is categorised as a Young Adult novel, perhaps because two of the main characters are teenagers, but this makes it no more of soft, easy read than "Hunger Games". The action is graphic and sometimes deeply disturbing. The emotional impact is high but not immature. The portrayal of the damaged-but-trying AI is first-rate. There are strong edge-of-your-seat thriller aspects to this book. It kept me caring and guessing right to the end.


I was so engaged with "Illuminae" that I posted my reactions on booklikes.com as I went along (something goodreads.com doesn't give me the space to do. In the spirit of the novel form used in "Illuminas", I've included the unedited posts below to give you a flavour of my reading experience.


After those posts, you'll find an extract from the audiobook so you can hear for yourself what the performance is like.


"Illuminae" is the first book of a trilogy, so, if you like this, there's plenty more to come.


Source: Unedited Posts from Mike Finn's Booklikes account from the evening of 16th to early morning of 21st June 2018


Time: 6:15 pm 16 June 2018

Subject: Reading progress update: I've read 11%. and I'm worried about how sustainable this narrative approach is


This series received a lot of positive reviews in the press and social media so I picked it up even though I've never read either author


I'm now a little over an hour in.


The good news is that I'm listening to the audiobook which is an all cast production. The actors are good. The action and point of view shifts are plentiful. The unknown but suspected falls across the plot like an early morning shadow.


The conceit of the book is that the story is told through a series of files, reports and emails compiled by a covert agency and delivered to an as-yet-unnamed client.

In this regard, it reminds me of "Sleeping Giants"


My worry is that I ran out of patience for the radio-play with stage instructions read out loud narrative technique of "Sleeping Giants" after about four hours. The book was six hours long.


"Illuminae" is more than eleven hours long and is book one of a trilogy.


I'm hoping for something clever and engaging that fills the gap left by all the stuff in a novel that isn't dialogue.


Date: 11:10 am 18 June 2018

Subject: Reading progress update: I've read 37%. - OK - so the format works if I take it an hour or so at a time


I'm more than four hours into this eleven-hour novel, which, in the audiobook version, is a full cast production.


When "Sleeping Giants" was presented in the same way, I'd lost patience with it by the four-hour mark.


This time, I'm enjoying myself.


I put the difference down to the quality of the writing - the characterisation and the emotion in the dialogue / first-person reports are excellent - I found the report on a Marine SNAFU assault quite moving for example.


There is also a nice balance between a more personal relationship between the two teen protagonists and the more role-driven interactions between the captains of the military and civilian scientific ship.


I find it difficult to listen for more than an hour at a time, but I think that has more to do with the quiet desperation of the story than to the format.


Date 6:45 pm 19 June 2018

Subject: Reading progress update: I've read 54%.just met the AI and...




No other word for it.


Six hours into something good and suddenly a switch is flipped and I'm six hours into something great.


Date 10:52 am 20 June 2018

Reading progress update: I've read 74%. - I've been here before except I REALLY haven't

I'm rationing this book now as I have real life things that I need to do today. So much for, "I' can only take one hour at a time".


Right now I'm at a part that ought to be making me yawn. I've seen all the "Resident Evil" movies (now there's a confession). I know all about having a kick-ass heroine shoot her way through rabid used-to-be-people killers in a confined space with alarms sounding in the background, red warning lights flashing and severed high-voltage powerlines arcing.


I've so been there,


But never like this.


Never with a smart brave heroine who cannot bring herself to kill.


Never with rabid used-to-be people that I feel deeply sorry for.


Never with an understanding that, when this isn't a first-person shooter game but an atrocity in which everyone is the victim, that winning isn't possible because surviving can cost too much.


Never with so much damned intensity and not a single line of prose.

In my work life, there's a lot of focus on disruption as something that changes the rules in commerce, opening up new opportunities and challenging established ways of working.


The structure of this novel is fundamentally disruptive. It's like the leap from "Tristram Shandy" to "Pride and Prejudice" in terms of form. This is the bloom of an almost post-literate generation that has freed itself from linear text and the straight-jacket of grammar that keeps writing on the ground and has taken to swinging through the trees with the confidence of those who've grown up comfortable with Kanji/Emoli/Gif ideography. To an old guy like me, it's astonishing and wonderful.


Date: 12:51 am 21 June 2018 

Subject: Reading progress 100% - wonderful to the very last page

So much for rationing myself. I got my real-world tasks done and then sat on my balcony in the growing dark, listening until nearly midnight.


What a ride. So much emotion. Such a cleverly constructed plot that never felt contrived but continued to surprise and delight.


I'll write a review when the book has had time to settle.


Right now, I'm clear on three things: the audiobook format for this book is a great choice, I have two new authors to follow. I'm so glad the next book has already been published.


Extract from Audiobook version of "Illuminae" 


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/263791539" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]



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review 2018-06-25 03:51
Obsidio - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

I don't even know where to start. I literally just finished this book five minutes ago. I'm in shock.


To be honest this entire series is just one long screaming fest because hOlY ShIt.



There's so many plot twists and the authors constantly push you to the brink of despair and make you think that everyone's going to die.




I think I've said this before, but I know some people had trouble with the way that the story was told as it was told through dossiers and stuff and I'll admit that it's out of the ordinary but I think it really fits the story.


I think this entire trilogy does a really good job of showing that there isn't always just black and white, good and evil, there's so many gray areas and showing how people fit into those grey areas. There are so many characters in this book, not all of them important, but you get a little snippet into almost all of their lives that gives you some understanding of them. It does a really good job of showing that good people are capable of doing bad things. And that it's a lot harder to simply cut someone off when you know that person.


There were so many characters in the book who had committed some really terrible atrocities and while it made me absolutely livid, seeing them through the eyes of some of the characters and hearing them talk, you begin to hate them a little less.


Except for Leanne Frobisher, that bitch can rot to be honest.


I really liked the dialogue among the characters, they all had their own distinctive way of talking. I think even without the name labels, you'd probably be able to figure who was speaking when. I also really liked the characterization. Obviously not everyone is likeable, but they feel real, like someone that you might encounter at some point throughout your life ya know.


It goes without saying that the plot was absolutely incredible and blew my damn mind.


I know that this probably is coming across as very scatter-brained and unorganized but I'm still reeling from the book and trying to get my brain working properly again. 10/10 would recommend and I'm 100% planning on reading this series again in the future.

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review 2018-06-16 19:46
Another Fabulous Audiobook Production
Obsidio - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman

4.5 Holy Smokes that was good.
You must read books 1-2 before this one. No spoiler review.
Mesmerizing audiobook read by a full cast with an extensive sound track-amazing. The story was filled with unexpected twists, heartbreak and exhilaration. I felt tired after finishing, like I just went through the trauma with them.
I love this author she develops her characters so completely. I think about them after putting the book down, hope for them, cheer them on, feel the void when one dies. At one point a character died, a selfless death, I teared up while earlier I was inner screaming for their death.
The ending was left with a voice from the past. Could there be another book ? I think so maybe a spin off ? I'd like to see more of this voice's character.

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review 2018-06-08 21:14
LIFEL1K3 - Jay Kristoff

[I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.]

Overall, I enjoyed this book, although ultimately it didn’t live up to quite a few of my expectations.

The worldbuilding isn’t tremendously developed here, but what is shown was enough for me to draw a satisfying idea of what it must be like. Post-apocalyptic future, in that, without surprise, humans have been destroying their planet to the point of tsunamis ravaging California (the story is clearly set in its remnants) and solar radiations giving anyone cancer if they walk out unprotected even for an hour or so. It’s a harsh world to live in, where people eke out a living by foraging scraps, prostitution, being in gangs, or competing in the WarDome game by piloting huge robots meant to punish AI robots who stopped obeying the Three Laws (yes, that’s Asimov’s Laws—they tend to work well in various sci-fi worlds, methinks).

Piloting one of those ‘machinas’ is exactly what Eve, the main character, does to earn money and pay for her grandfather’s medication, encouraged by her tiny robot Cricket and her best friend Lemon. Except that her latest fight doesn’t go well at all, and she finds herself manifesting a strange power that sends religious fanatics and bounty hunters on her trail… although not only. This is how she meets Ezekiel, the ‘lifelike’ (an android built in such a way that he looks completely human not only on the surface, since he has blood-like liquid in his veins, metal bones and not simply motors, etc.) This merry band runs away, trying to escape their pursuers as well as to find what happened to Eve’s grandfather, in a world that would look great on screen: radioactive deserts with storms full of glass debris, enemies on motorbikes with rocket launchers, a city made of a whole landlocked float, the ghost town of what used to be a powerful corporation, a living underwater ship… The author doesn’t disclose that many details about geopolitics or history in here, however what he shows us worked for me, and let me imagine this world where Eve and her friends have to live.

In terms of characters, mostly I didn’t care for them, except Lemon. She comes off as the most human and balanced (both strong and fragile), with a cocky attitude and a to-the-death loyalty that felt genuine.

Also, special mention for the novel crossing Anastasia with Pinocchio. I don’t think I had seen or read that yet, and I found the idea interesting, as well as working fairly well.

Where I wasn’t happy with the book:

1) The romance. As often in YA, it was too much of the insta-love kind, without chemistry, and since we get to see how it started only through flashbacks, there was very little in it to make me like it. Eve took a bullet to the head and her memories are sometimes frazzled, and Ezekiel is too many shades of ‘I love you and you’re the only one who gave meaning to my life so now I’m here and I’ll do anything for you’ (commendable, but not very interesting nor even plausible, considering we never got to -feel- how it developed).

2) Ezekiel. Here we had an excellent opportunity to show a character that is not human, yet was built to be like humans, only without the emotional maturity that we develop over ten, twenty, thirty years. Granted, this is mentioned a couple of times, when it comes to the other lifelikes and the way they learnt to love (quickly, brutally, in a way that could drive them mad if the relationship broke, since they didn’t have the emotional background to soften the blow)—but then, this came through -them-, instead of through Ezekiel’s experience.

I think part of the problem stems from the fact we don’t have chapters from Ezekiel’s POV. Eve, Lemon, even a few minor characters now and then: sure. But not Ezekiel. So, in the end, we really get that ‘doll-like’ character who, sure, is an excellent fighter, but whose motives to help Eve never raise past the state of plot device. I would have loved to really see his point view rather than been told about it, see his inner questioning, how he sees the world, how he accepts (or not) his condition of nearly-but-never-human being, especially since this would’ve worked with a certain plot twist also prompting another character to question what being human means.

(A note here regarding the sexual relationship between Ezekiel and Eve; we don’t see it, but it’s more than just vaguely implied. I know that for some people, this is a complete turn-off. I must say I did find it interesting, not so much abnormal and disgusting than intriguing and raising lots of questions about, well, being human, what it means, how it is defined, etc. Did the lifelikes have sexual relationships because they were programmed to, in a perfectionist desire to copy human biology? Was it something that developed ‘naturally’ in them because they looked so much like humans and lived among them? Did they read about it, and so were conditioned from the beginning to believe it was the next step, and from there, would it mean that they could’ve learnt other forms of physical love if given the chance? So many roads to explore, but that weren’t… -sigh-)

Conclusion: In terms of action and of a world easy to picture, this was a fun and entertaining read. However, I regret it didn’t go further than that.

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