I haven’t enjoyed a young adult title so much in a long time. Illuminae is at once a love story, a cyberpunk/hacker story, a corporate war story, and a bioweapon nightmare story. What’s most intriguing, however, is that it is told in the form of hacked files delivered to the director of the corporation that started the war.
The narrative unfolds through transcribed interviews, journals, memos, chat logs, photos and emails sent in a post-mortem dossier between the survivors of a brutal attack on an illegal mining colony by a corporate rival. The two main characters, Kady and Ezra, are boyfriend and girlfriend who break up the morning of the attack, but wind up becoming close again as their world is destroyed and they and the other survivors are forced to flee.
Beitech, in attacking the mining operation, also released a biological weapon that infected some of the survivors. Fleeing the remnants of the Beitech battle fleet, the population of the mining world is spread among three ships – a damaged battlecruiser, a science vessel, and a freighter. There are so many dangers the remaining families and crews face: they frantically try to repair the damaged ships while dealing with an Artificial Intelligence computer that appears to have gone insane, and the creeping, insidious bioweapon that threatens to destroy them all before they can get away. Tensions mount between the scientific and military crews as they try to do what’s best for the colony. Oh, and did I mention a love story that begins with a breakup?
This is a compelling read that you will not want to put down once the momentum gathers. Each plot line is compelling and the characters are interesting and three-dimensional. The document format adds to rather than distracts from the narrative, uncovering key points which drive the story forward. Creative, smart, and well written, this book should be your next read.
Also note that I’ve categorized this as a “quick read” despite the the fact that the book is just shy of 600 pages. Don’t let the page count fool you into thinking this book is a slog; not only are many of the pages simply illustrations or strings of chat logs, the plot progresses at a really fast clip. Don’t hesitate to check this out even if big books scare you.