Illuminae... Aussie Epicness!

Illuminae The Illuminae Files Book One
Written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Science Fiction, Space Opera
Expected Publication November 2015
608 Pages
Thank you to Bookworld Australia and Allen & Unwin
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★★★★★
One moment, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have nothing bigger to worry about than each other. Specifically, avoiding each other in the wake of their messy break-up. In the next second, their entire world falls apart.

The year is 2575 and one of the mega corporations that control much of deep space has just fired the opening salvo in an intergalactic war, destroying Kady and Ezra's planet. Forced to flee on a small fleet of crippled rescue ships alongside thousands of other refugees, the fear of enemy warships chasing them down is at first all consuming but soon becomes the least of their worries. A deadly plague is ravaging the refugees on the ships, the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be an enemy, and High Command is refusing to acknowledge that there may be a serious problem. As Kady plunges into a tangled web of data in search of the truth, she realises that Ezra is possibly the only person who can help her save the refugees before it's too late.
Seventeen year old Kady Grant was still at school when the first explosion signaled the beginning of the intergalactic war, the sky raining fire down upon the illegal mining community of Kerenza. Kady knows the settlement must evacuate, even if former boyfriend Ezra Mason is standing in her way. To survive the deadly BeiTech strike, Kady finds herself on board the scientific vessel in Hypatia, escaping into the dark reaches of outer space. BeiTech are determined to destroy any survivors, having unleashed a deadly bio weapon with the potential to kill mankind. Their fleet has taken on heavy fire and the journey to a jump port to reach a populated core system is months within reach, with BeiTech still in pursuit.

The Alexander is a battle carrier transporting refugees from Kerenza, recruiting civilians in plight for survival. The Alexander is armed with an Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network that has been severely damaged during their escape, shutting down the on board amenities and overriding personnel. Kady is the brains, Ezra the brawn and through a series of infiltrated accounts, surveillance and documents, together they will uncover a series of deception, conspiracies and a deadly plague that threatens to kill what's left of the survivors.

ponderings of a booknerd

Fucking incredible.

Illuminae is one of the most unique and incredible experiences that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Presented in a series of documents, security footage and instant communications, it tells the story of Kady and Ezra and what is ultimately the evacuation of their home planet in Kerenza after it was attacked. Their world is blow apart by BeiTech, a mega corporation who have overtaken the small planet Kerenza to mine for resources while killing it's inhabitants in the process. Both Kady and Ezra managed to escape and now on board space vessels who are looking for a safe passage into another galaxy, with the in pursuit BeiTech warship determined to ensure no survivors remain alive. What ensues is a phenomenal science fiction story with an intense romance that will leave readers feeling exhilarated.

"Am I not merciful?"

The unique format is nothing short of brilliant. The storyline is told through a series of documents, interviews, images and various forms of correspondence presented as a inquiry portfolio. The illustrations, the recorded email and messages recorded only heighten your experience as a reader. It left me utterly breathless.


As a reader, you're thrust into what is an internal inquiry on board the survival ships, in order to understand what happened prior to boarding. With resources low on board both vessels, civilians are recruited to fight against the pursuing hostiles. Ezra will join the assault while Kady finds herself in intelligence training on board the Hypatia, allowing her access to online network communications. It soon becomes apparent that any information inhabitants are given is little more than propaganda, and Kady uses her position to access the secure communication system in order to find answers.


It's within the system where she communicates with Ezra while a deadly plague threatens to wipe out all on board. AIDAN, the artificial intelligence that commands the vessel is dysfunctional at best. Through the turmoil, emerges a tentative friendship between Kady and Ezra, repairing their relationship and trust in one another once more.

The storyline was intensely fierce and Kady an extraordinary heroine while Ezra was charismatic and charming. Although told through the perspective of being a bystander, the in depth reports, interviews and conversations allow readers to immerse themselves within the storyline effortlessly, observing what is essentially conspiracy theories and witnessing Kady expertly working her way through a series of digital breadcrumbs. I had expected a well written space opera, but what I found was an intelligent and brilliantly written science fiction thriller that far exceeded my expectations. Tenfold.

the final verdict


Mind fucking blown. Believe the hype. Every. Fucking. Word.

Illuminae is a visual masterpiece. Blending engaging characters with a unique format and explosive storyline was nothing short of breathtaking. Both Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created a phenomenal and flawless narrative that will captivate readers until the final page is turned. Strap yourself in for one hell of a ride.

57 comments

  1. I felt that this book was fantastic as well. I really enjoyed the illustrations and storyline. The romance was terrific between Kady and Ezra. Great review.

    Grace @ Books of Love

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    1. Thanks Grace. I absolutely adored it! Usually hyped books rarely live up to the expectations of being a brilliant read, but Illuminae far surpassed it. I can't wait for my finished preordered edition to arrive to read it again.

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  2. I've read a few books told through emails, letters, etc, but they were romances and nothing near this level of Illuminae! I can't wait to read it and experience the epicness of it myself :D

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    1. It will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. It's one of the most, if not the most epic young adult book I've ever read. EVER.

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  3. There's been so much talk about this book and I wasn't that fussed, because I didn't love the last Amie Kaufman I read, but seeing internal visuals has peaked my interest, actually. Great review!
    Love your new colour scheme, by the way!

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    1. It's incredible Sophie. Not only the format, but the storyline is intense and had me reading on the edge of my seat. This is definitely a book you need to own.

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  4. I have yet to read this book, but many people seems to love it! The writing-style is really unique with the documents and all, though I'm afraid I couldn't understand the plot xD Anyway, great review! <33

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    1. The plot isn't too science fiction, but more space opera. Have you read These Broken Stars? If you could follow that one along, this isn't all too dissimilar actually. It's brilliant Tiffany, but my only advice is that you need a physical copy as it's absolutely glorious inside. A real experience.

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  5. I am currently reading this book, and I am totally blown away by the format! However, I am having a few problems here and there, which I hope will vanish away by the time I reach the middle of the book.
    Fantastic review, Kelly!

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that Mishma. I absolutely loved it from start to finish, but I'm a massive fan of science fiction space operas in young adult and tend to gravitate towards them.

      See what I did there? Looking forward to seeing what you think of it.

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  6. Hold on ... Amie is the co-author of These Broken stars too ... this isn't connected with that series is it? The formatting and style of this looks so cool.

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    1. She is and it's a completely different and new series, separate from These Broken Stars that's she's written with Jay who's another Aussie author. The format is awesome, but it's the incredible storyline that will draw you in Christy. It absolutely floored me. I loved it!

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  7. Once again you have the power to convince me to stop what I'm doing and get this book! I'm now debating in whether or not I should get the ebook version or thr physical copy? I'm just do stoked to read this girl! As always, such an informative AND convincing review! ♡♡

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    1. Preorder it Keionda. It will be the best life decision you've ever made. Guaranteed.

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  8. I'm glad to hear you really loved this! I hope to read it soon; it's one I got at BEA and I love the set up of it. :)

    -Lauren

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    1. Lauren, you need to read this as soon as possible, it's almost a crime to have a copy and not have read it already. It's incredible! I can't wait to see what you think of it.

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  9. SOOOOOO DAMNNNNN EXCITEDDDD FOR THIS BOOK. THAT'S LITERALLY ALL I HAVE TO SAY.

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    1. It is glorious, absolutely glorious.

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  10. "Am I not merciful?"

    YES KELLY. YES. I completely agree with everything you've said here. (And LOL...I love how you formatted your review kind of like the book. Good job!) This was such an amazing book. Kady was an amazing and kickass lead, Ezra was a hilarious love interest, and the twists and turns at the end were just pheonominal. So glad you felt the same way! ♥ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! xD

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    1. Took me ages to work out how to do it Zoe, much longer than I really should have spent on it.

      Thanks Zoe. Wasn't it incredible! The twists were mind blowing and I couldn't tear myself away from it. This is by far the greatest hyped book I've seen in years, especially in Australia and so glad it far surpasses the expectations.

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  11. I recently finished a book told through journey entries, transcribed videos and interviews (The Dead House) and like that it offered something different.

    I love how much you loved this. (It's not one for me but I enjoy hearing anyone who's passionate about something they've read!)

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    1. I actually think you'd really enjoy this one too actually, especially for the intensity and survival aspects of the storyline. I love when authors try a different narrative and seeing the storyline through so many different mediums only added to what was an already incredible read.

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  12. I absolutely, absolutely, absolutely loved this book. You're right that it was so mind-blowing! Definitely a game-changer in the science-fiction field of YA. And seriously, is it weird that I liked the artificial intelligence even thought he was a wee bit crazy? :P IT MADE ME CRY SOMEWHERE NEAR THE END, TOO :( Just so epic!

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. I liked his too Faye, he just seemed so human and really lonely. I really felt pity for him at times too which normally logic would have won and told me, don't be stupid, he's an artificial intellect you idiot. I was just so immersed within the storyline though.

      I cried. I cried at that page and I cried when that happened too.

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  13. Haha we know it's amazing when you're getting the curse words out ;) I keep reading about how wonderful this book is, but have had no great desire to read it myself. I guess I'll wait and see when I see it in bookstores later in the year, maybe it'll entice me then! The layout of those pages is pretty cool, I must say. Seems like the sort of book you'd need in physical form!

    - Wattle @ Whimsical Nature

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    1. Fuck yes! Every time I swear online, I feel like I should be apologising to my mother. Even though she's clearly not interested in social media and knows that I often swear like a filthy sailor when I'm excited. I think you're one of the few Aussie bloggers who aren't ready to kill and maim for a copy Wattle. I think seeing it in store will change your mind though, you won't be able to refuse the lure of the format and the awesomeness. It's definitely one you couldn't read in eBook format, I think the storyline might get lost within the graphics.

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  14. I need to read this. Why have I not read this? What am I frigging doing with my life? ALSO. I'd heard that it was told in a unique manner in the twenty something reviews of it that I've seen so far, but none of them made me realize exactly how awesome it looked. That's it. YOU PICTURES CONVINCED ME.There has to be something about it that everyone ho reads it finds it incredible ;) Lovely review Kelly <3

    I know it's been a looong time since I last commented, so I'm probably late on this: but your theme looks gorgeous :)

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    1. Thanks Nirvana, I really appreciate your kind words.

      It's not out just yet and the images are from the ARC edition, but I imagine the finished product is basically the same. It's not just the format but the storyline is phenomenal. Together, I've never read anything like it. It'll be the young adult book of the year, so definitely preorder your copy.

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  15. Oh gosh. 608 pages? I can't even. I think I might just download the audio book. But the physical copy looks so gorgeous!

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    1. You'll fly through them though Joy. With the format, some only half half a page of text, some only have a few lines on them. I actually read it within two days. You'd be doing it an injustice if you only listened to the audio book Joy, the book really adds to the tension with how it's presented and it would be a shame not to own a copy.

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  16. o.o wow... i think i need to read this, i love how very different the book ism def need the physical copy over kindle. Cannot stop laughing at that last gift

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    1. I loved Back to The Future and somehow it seemed really fitting.

      Definitely physical book over Kindle edition. Hands down. It's also the texture of the pages, especially the ones that have been heavily ink printed. The black backgrounds are just so incredibly lovely and seeing the hand drawn notes throughout, the physical copy would be much more interactive without meaning to be as well. I can't wait for you to grab a copy Lily and see what you think.

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  17. I've already got this one on my TBR and am looking forward to it!
    Love all the pictures and the exploding speaker you put into the review :-).

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    1. Thanks Sarah. It's beyond amazing, one of the most epic young adult books I've ever had the privilege of reading. I can't wait until it's released to see what the other Aussie readers think of it. This really may be the first book that we all agree on how awesome it truly is.

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  18. Obviously I need to read this one ASAP then! I was a little worried about the way its told and the writing style but if it works, it works. Plus I think all the documents and stuff would add a great layer of immersion to the story. Definitely excited for this one!

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    1. I was worried about the format too to be honest Alise. But it added an extra tension to what is an already incredible storyline. I'm so excited for you to read it too and can't wait to see what you think.

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  19. I'm so glad to hear that this book exceeded the ridiculous hype and expectations it has built up. I love the look of the book's presentation. I usually find it a bit difficult to connect to epistolary type books, but I will try Illuminae with an open mind. I am SO EXCITED to get this in my paws at the end of the month!

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    1. It's incredibly Aentee and the format only adds to the overall experience because it's so much more than another read.

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  20. I just finished reading this one over the weekend and it was so amazing, Kelly! I loved every minute of it and I 100% agree with everything you said about the book. I'm excited to see where the story heads next. And OMG I loved Kady and Ezra and their romance was so so sweet. I really can't wait to read more.
    Wonderful review! :)

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    1. Wasn't it Nick. I can't even express how much I loved them together, as individuals I just loved the whole bloody thing. It took me weeks, WEEKS! To even write up a few paragraphs for a review. I struggled with putting into words things like THIS BOOK IS AWESOME. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I WANT TO HAVE THIS BOOKS' BABIES. WE'LL MAKE BEAUTIFUL NOVELLAS TOGETHER. It was probably easier just to tell people to buy the book. Now. Because it'll be the best life decision they ever make.

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  21. OMG *squeee* It is sooo gorgeous! I have a copy I need to read ASAP and you and all the other bloggers are making me excited. I have not seen a bad review for this one yet!

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    1. You do Sarah, you totally do! I haven't either. This is one book that I think will appeal to everyone, not just young adult readers either. I loved it immensely and can't wait to see what everyone else thinks of it too!

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  22. I really want to pick up this one. The cover is gorgeous, the inside of the book looks amazing and I haven't heard anything bad about it. Hyped books always scare me, but I'm glad this one wasn't over-hyped. YAY :D

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    1. This definitely lives up to that hype though Erica, far surpassed it actually. I adored it. I hope everyone grabs a copy of Illuminae because it's just so much more than a read, it really is an experience.

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  23. This sounds like an otherworldly experience altogether! I find the way in which the book is compiled intriguing - "a series of documents, interviews, images and various forms of correspondence presented as a inquiry portfolio!?" It almost feels as though you've snagged something from the Central Intelligence Agency! It looks like it reads like a comic book too! Also, thanks for sharing the pictures, this book has truly piqued my interest :D

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    1. That's exactly what it felt like Claudia, like you're reading a private government file. They are just some of the formats that the book takes on, there's also private chat conversations, and also normal paragraphs too. It looks jarring, but it's definitely not. The format adds to the tension and it has that in bucket loads too. It's incredible!

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  24. That is one of the best reviews I've ever read - you nailed it - the Gifs, and pictures and words were perfect. I was a little worried - I'm always cautious of hyped books but I haven't heard a single bad review on this one so far!

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    1. Thanks poppet and neither have I actually, everyone has loved it so far. It's amazing, no doubt it'll be the young adult book of the year and made even better by two Aussie authors as well. I can't wait for you to read it!

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  25. I had the same idea to bleep my words out as they did, but the question is, how the fuck did you review this? Like seriously, HOW? I am struggling to even form a coherent sentence to even kick start my review. You need to write mine lol. * cries *

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    1. It took weeks. Not kidding whatsoever. I just couldn't put words to keyboard. It was so incredibly hard to review it without including spoilers and still able to do justice to how incredible it was. Because it's mind blowing. How are they going to top this one with book two? Hooooooooooooow? I knew you'd love it too Tika, you've always got such awesome taste in books.

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  26. I absolutely LOVE that creative formatting and I'm really intrigued with the storytelling because it sounds like everyone LOVED it even though it's in an unusual format! Cannot wait to read this book.

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    1. I can't wait for you to read it either Jeann. It's absolutely phenomenal. I can't wait until my preorder arrives so I can read it again with everyone else, it was just that good!

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  27. I cannot wait for this book. I need a copy NOW. This is my most anticipated book of the year. It sounds brilliant and looks brilliant - thanks for sharing the pictures. Great review. I have no doubt I am going to love it as much as you did.

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    1. Mine too Rochelle and let me tell you, it didn't disappoint at all. It didn't just live up to the hype, it far surpassed even what I expected. This is one book that you need a physical copy of though, it's just too beautiful not to own.

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  28. Aah, gosh, you've got another beautiful blog design up! Kelly, it's lovely.
    And another aah for this book! I'm desperately keen to read it, it sounds absolutely... mind blowing, I suppose. I was actually hesitant to read your review because I wanted to go into it fairly well blind, but I'm pretty glad I ended up reading this! It sounds like it's an otherworldly book, something we've never experienced before. And that makes me even more excited.
    Gorgeous review. xx

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  29. Whoa whoa whoa, I NEED to read this book ASAP. I've heard nothing but amazing things about it. I'm still slightly concerned about the way it's written, but it does look brilliant and inventive. Lovely review, my dear, I'm totally reading this next!!

    Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books

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  30. I really need to not read reviews before writing my own because you've used all the words I wanted to use :)

    This is not a book, it's a work of art.

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