Minor Spoiler Review: Illuminae

By: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Image result for illuminae book cover
“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you.”

When a mining colony is attacked as the opening move of a corporate war, 17-year-old evacuees, and ex-couple, Kady and Ezra are just grateful to be alive. But they have no idea that the fight for their lives has just begun.

The rescue ship Alexander has no hyperdrive, the nearest spaceport is months away, there’s a mysterious plague on board, the crew is keeping secrets,  and a faulty IA navigation system is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is a classically structured sci-fi story where the characters are immediately thrown into a dangerous situation and they have to deal with it. It may be called a YA novel, but honestly, just about anyone would love this book.

BRIEFING NOTE:   This book is  a printed version of The Illuminae group’s file released to the press in January 2576. This file is a compilation of  interviews, emails, journals, IMs, security camera analysis, and official reports regarding the Alexander Indecent.

To some, the format of the story creates too much distance from the characters, and it can be a hurdle to get past (it is the novel form of a found footage movie). but if this form of story-telling does not bother you too much, I think most readers will enjoy it.

I do not use the term “Emotional Roller Coaster” lightly. But that really does describe this book. It’s part romance, part action, part mystery, part survival horror, with a sci-fi backdrop that is just as thrilling, beautiful, and terrifying as space itself.

The computer logs of the malfunctioning IA system (whom I dubbed  “HAL jr.”) were hard to get through at times. I get why it’s there, it’s a vital info-dump, but I don’t understand why the malfunctioning HAL jr. becomes poetic, instead of just freezing and crashing, which is what real computers do. I’d like to think that in the future we can develop an AI with a safe-fail system, so our computers don’t end up with a Pinocchio complex.

The bad Science was cringeworthy at times: You can’t fire a gun in the vacuum of space! The lack of oxygen should be preventing the gunpowder from igniting! Don’t misunderstand me, this is not a new problem in sci-fi.

In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars Series, the Martians use radium in almost everything. In Issac Asimov’s Robot Series, the three laws of robotics were hardwired into each robot. So it’s not fair to hold this one mistake against the whole novel, I just caught that and thought it was funny.

As more and more writers are pushing the science fiction genre into science fantasy *Cough* Star Trek: Discovery * Cough* It’s refreshing to see that the Burroughs / Bradbury style of adventure sci-fi is not dead.

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