Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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BRIEFING NOTE: This is an addictive, fast-paced adventure that I didn’t expect to ███████ lurrrrrrve as much as I did.


Greetings chum. I don’t even know how to adequately review such an amazingly unique reading experience. Illuminae is not your traditional book. It breaks conventional storytelling and is told in multi-media format: the book is the compilation of emails, instant message conversations, redacted memos, and more as if you are reading a confidential dossier.

“It’s not the bullets that kill you. It’s moments like these. One piece at a time.”

The year is 2575 and this morning Kady Grant broke up with her boyfriend, Ezra Miller. Hours later their tiny planet of Kerenza, which is an illegal mining colony, was attacked by a mega-corporation. Bad day, I’d say.

Ezra: And then I said it.
Interviewer: What did he say?
Kady Grant: He said, ‘You picked a hell of a day to dump me, Kades.’

And she did indeed. And unfortunately for the survivors of the attack on Kerenza, the nightmare is far from over. Not only are they being pursued by the ███████, but there’s also a terrible infection spreading throughout the fleet. You better not look at them, chum.

I absolutely fell in love with Kady and Ezra and their struggle to reconcile their new reality with what really matters. You can sense the complicated relationship between them and the love that they feel for one another. Ezra is my love with his ASCII flowers and witter banter, but my favorite character might actually be Analyst 7213 and his colorful descriptions of video feeds.

The great thing about this unique format is that you feel like you are a fly on the wall, listening in on conversations and reading diary entries that you wouldn’t normally be privy to. It is such a unique experience, and all of the characters all feel like real people. So much so that I felt incredibly sad when they die, but thankfully Kaufman and Kristoff manage to balance the heartbreak with comedic relief.

This book has so much levity and humor, I found myself laughing hysterically on more than one occasion. Each of the characters feels very real and you cannot help but fall in love with them. This book honestly kind of reminded me of Battlestar Galactica in the best of ways, tapping into the reasons that show speaks to me deep down. This overall story isn’t a new one to the genre but it is absolutely unique in execution and truly shines with the characters and worldbuilding.

BRIEFING NOTE: I read along with the audiobook at the recommendation of Taylor, which was literally the best suggestion to ever be made in the existence of the world. The audiobook is full cast, and the unconventional format of the book lends really well to reading along… it brought the story to life in a way that instantly tugged at my heart and wrestled its way into my soul. I wholeheartedly recommend that you read along with the audiobook for a ███████ incredible experience. Just a warning that the ‘pretty birdie’ sections of audio are lowkey terrifying. You’ve been warned.


Honestly this book made me an anxious ball of anxiety and nerves for the entire time that I read it, and I didn’t see the twists coming. I am so sad that I sat on this book for so long, but I can say that this is a book where the hype is deserved. This was my first read from either author and it will not be my last.

REPRESENTATION: world is racially diverse
loss of a loved one, violence


You can find information about my rating criteria here.

🤝 This Mortal Squad buddy read with Becca and Taylor! This was another fantastic buddy read selection for the group worthy of our squad’s formation!

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: I’d highly recommend reading along with the audiobook, which is full cast with sound effects and literally sounds like a movie; it’s incredible. If you do not have Audible they do have a free trial for new customers (one free book). If you’ve already done the free trial, there’s a current promo for three months at $6.95 a month (not an affiliate link). This promo ends on December 31, 2018.


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Hi! I’m Kaleena: book lover, runner, wanderer, and philanthropist. Life is an adventurous gift: through the outdoors and books. I run Reader Voracious Blog, where I post spoiler-free book reviews of science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, and mystery & thriller.

57 thoughts on “Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! I can’t wait to see what you make of Gemina (it was my fave of the series). And yes, I also love Analyst 7213!! If you haven’t figured out who it is by the end of Obsidio, let me know and I’ll tell you. I haven’t heard the audio books of them, so I’m not sure if its the same voice actor. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ASKALK I finished Gemina the other night and am still kind of blown away from it. These books are incredible and I cannot wait to start Obsidio next! I have my suspicions on who analyst 7213 is based on the speech patterns but we’ll see. I def don’t think it is the same voice actor.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooooh!!! I hope you love Obsidio too!! There were 2 times that while reading Gemina I threw the book and was cursing the authors. You can probably guess both sections. But OH MY GOSH, the FEELS!! I’m so glad you loved it!! x

        Liked by 1 person

  2. yes this book is awesome! I was trying to read it on my Kindle and that just doesn’t do the visual layout justice, so while I’m home over break I’m gonna try and borrow print copies of this series from the library

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have heard amazing things about this book and because of that I have actually bought this one! I just need to read it already. I’m not someone who usually likes the unique style that this one is told through but it sounds so fun and different and like it just WORKS for the story. So I want to try and read this one. I am so glad you could head over heels love this book and I hope you love Gemina next.

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    1. I am glad you picked this up to give it a try, honestly it is such a unique experience and almost feels like reading a tv show or movie, if that makes sense. Of course that is largely informed by the audiobook, but there’s something about the storytelling that feels distinctly movie-like. I loved Gemina and am trying to recover so I can read Obsidio next!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, lovely review and i’m happy you ended up enjoying it so much too!
    I already got the audio version for the second book, now i just need to book and then i’m ready to go back in! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I somehow managed to go in without expectations on this one, I think because I wasn’t in the book blogging world when it was largely being hyped, and was so pleasantly blown away. I finished Gemina the other night and it actually is better! I listened to about 150-200 pages on the plane ride down to San Diego and without the book in hand it worked. (I get super motion sickness wah.) I did flip through the physical book once I got to my dad’s house to see the pictures and find my place, but it was still amazing. Happy reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Okay so I wrote a whole comment and then my computer decided not to work!!

    First, I’m so glad you loved this! The Illuminae Files is one of my favorite series. If I ever reread them, I’m definitely picking up the audiobooks. The analysts identities are revealed in the third book. I don’t remember who is who, but it was a fun little reveal. I hope you love Gemina! It’s my favorite in the series, and a lot of that has to do with Nik, who is hilarious! Also, I love how you added redactions into your review and some of the language Kaufman and Kristoff used in the book. It made you review really fun. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry that your first comment went the way of the Do do!

      I just finished Gemina the other day and OMG it was BETTER THAN ILLUMINAE. I didn’t think that was possible, but here we are! Nik is freaking hilarious. I am excited for Obsidio soon (I own the book and audio but am waiting for my buddy reading friends) and I am happy to hear the Analyst identities are revealed!

      I am so glad you enjoyed my review, and I hope you love the audiobook re-read when you get to it! Thanks for stopping by!


  6. So glad to hear your thoughts on this because I’ve been wanting to check it out ever since loving Nevernight. I’ve read one if Amie Kaufman’s solo works too and enjoyed it as well. Wilk have to pick this up next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well this was a GREAT review and I’m so happy you managed to express yourself so well to talk about this book, I admire that so much, too. That feeling of… well, being a “fly on the wall” as you wrote it, fits perfectly. That’s exactly how I felt while reading this book and probably what made it such a different and fun kind of reading experience, too 🙂
    I hope you’ll keep on loving the series 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I got these for Christmas and I’m SO EXCITED to read them! I struggled for a long time cus I usually do audiobooks, but was worried I was going to miss out since it’s alt format. Not sure how well reading/listening is going to work for me but I’ll definitely try it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YAY, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! I loved reading along with the audiobook (first time I have done this) and found it enjoyable. I sped it up to like 1.65x to more match my reading speed but still hear the voices well & the sound effects. It’s a time! I definitely recommend reading along with Gemina because there’s amazing artwork intertwined in the book (by Marie Lu!), but I did listen only for about 150-200 on the plane and it was still great. Happy reading!


    1. I’ll be honest, I also don’t really like audiobooks. I never keep my focus and find my mind wandering. BUT I decided to read along and while my reading speed is faster than the audio so I sped it up to like 1.65x (which was a little slower than my pace but the voices were still legible) and it was great. The full cast is awesome and brings it to life, and there are even sound effects (pewpewpew)

      Liked by 1 person

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