Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What we're reading: Illuminae!

There has been a lot of buzz about Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, and so I chose it as one of the new books I would illustrate for the cover of this year's Reading Log for teen summer reading. And since I had illustrated it, I thought perhaps I should also read it!

The size of the book (599 pages) was rather daunting for a weekend, but Anarda assured me that it would be a quick read, because the whole story is told through a "dossier" of hacked documents that includes emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and other miscellany, so the page content of readable material is not dense. I found this to be true, and for the first 50 or so pages, I also found it to be irritating! The fancy format, especially as regards a bunch of graphically challenging black pages with teensy tiny gray writing that is laid out like a pinwheel or a wave, frustrated me to no end. Authors of teen books: Remember that elderly people such as librarians also read your books, and make the type bigger!

Once that initial reaction was worked through, however, and I kept reading (having faith in Anarda's good taste), I rapidly became first fascinated by and then totally immersed in the story:

In the morning, Kady and Ezra broke up. Or rather, Kady dumped Ezra for a variety of reasons even she isn't clear about. In the afternoon, the planet on which they live, and where their families work in an illegal mining operation, is attacked by a rival corporation. A fleet of three ships manages to escape the planet with the surviving settlers on board, hotly pursued by the remaining warship belonging to their attackers.

To complicate matters, a deadly plague breaks out on board ship, and the Artificial Intelligence in charge of the fleet may have been sufficiently damaged in the battle as to have "lost its mind." Kady is on one ship, and Ezra is on another, and much of the communication is related to one or the other of them, some of it between them but much of it also involving other personnel at various levels on all three vessels.

The story starts slowly, but soon ramps up into quite the ride. Invasion, retreat, strategy, plague, zombie-like people, a rogue artificial intelligence, a plucky heroine, and a little bit of romance--and you cannot beat it for suspense. I think the fact that I devoured it in less than 24 hours says something!

Pick it up, hang in there through the frustrating gleaning of information from random bits and bytes (which actually, as it turns out, makes you go slowly enough to mine it for all its content), and you won't put it down until the amazing conclusion.

And there will be a sequel!


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