My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every accolade this novel has had is so well-deserved. What a magnificent experience it was to read this amazing science-fiction-fantasy masterpiece. I cannot believe it has taken me almost a year to get around to reading Illuminae.
The story of Kady and Ezra is truly epic, in every sense of the word. Worlds, and ships, and lasers, and words, and zombies, and mega-computers collide and it is a thrilling un-put-downable ride.
Kady is a feisty, fragile and courageous protagonist and she is matched by the steadfast, flirty and resourceful Ezra. As the novel begins, we learn that these two have broken up – just hours before their world is turned upside down with an attack on the outpost they call home, Kerenza. Fate just keeps pushing them together, although not physically – their contact throughout the book is mainly via comm-link communications and email messages. They end up on separate ships in the rescue fleet and eventually start trying to work their way back to each other.
The back drop to this is a fantastic conspiracy plot. There is an evil corporation, a psychologically damaged AI who seems convinced the best way to save the fleet is to blow people up, and a pandemic biological weapon that has been unleashed and is, little by little, claiming the survivors. Kady hacks into the computer system looking for data that will tell her the truth about what is going on, as AIDAN, the AI, stalks her via video cameras and other electronic means.
In addition, the way this volume looks, is as good as it reads. There are pages of black, with winding white text as Ezra engages in a dogfight in space with enemy ships; AIDAN’s erratic conversations with himself and with Kady are set on the page almost like poetry. It’s a novel like no other I have read. The only one that comes close has been Cry Blue Murder by Kim Kane and Marion Roberts, which tells its story through news reports, police reports and internet exchanges. The best part of this way of writing is that they can suggest swear words and then not have them in the text (by blacking them out “officially”) – thus opening the story up to a wide-ranging audience. Genius.
I cannot wait to get my hands on Gemina, the second instalment. I look forward to another engaging and absorbing journey.
For ages 13 and up.