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

(Last Updated On: June 19, 2019)

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

About the Book

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers  |  Release Date: October 20, 2015  |  Pages: 602
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction  |  Format: Hardcover & Audiobook  |  Source: Purchased

Illuminae coverThis 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.

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My Review

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!

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.

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. Destiny @ Howling Libraries

    December 27, 2018 at 11:12 AM

    This makes me so happy 😭😭😭

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:19 AM

      This book is so incredible, I keep thinking about it. So glad that I read it!

  2. thebookprescription

    December 27, 2018 at 2:13 PM

    This is my favorite trilogy and Gemina is even better! I am planning to read along with the audiobook next year!
    Great review and I am so happy you loved it

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:21 AM

      FRIEND I finished Gemina the other night and my mind is still completely blown away. Incredible.
      The audiobooks are so good and really add something to the reading experience!

      1. thebookprescription

        December 31, 2018 at 2:17 PM

        Ahh That’s great to hear <3

  3. Meeghan reads

    December 27, 2018 at 6:58 PM

    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

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:23 AM

      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.

      1. Meeghan reads

        December 31, 2018 at 5:53 PM

        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

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 7, 2019 at 7:40 PM

          I CAN TOTALLY GUESS. Gemina legit had me feeling so many things and I don’t know if I will ever be able to trust again, there were tears and many curse words uttered.

          1. Meeghan reads

            January 7, 2019 at 7:57 PM

            That’s the entire reason that I loved it so much (in retrospect of course… I wanted to burn the book while reading it)

  4. maxinesobsessions

    December 27, 2018 at 7:12 PM

    I want to reread this one so I can finish the series.
    Nevernight by Jay Kristoff is one of my favourite books.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:24 AM

      I nabbed a copy of Nevernight when it was on Kindle sale earlier this month and am excited to dive into it soon!

  5. Isabelle

    December 27, 2018 at 8:21 PM

    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

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:25 AM

      Honestly I can’t imagine reading this one on the Kindle just because of all the detail into page design, I feel like it would be pretty difficult to translate well to the screen. I hope you can get a print copy to read!

  6. Justine @ Bookish Wisps

    December 28, 2018 at 12:21 AM

    OMG KALEENA, I made a list of books I will back read in 2019 and youuu made me more excited for this one!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:27 AM

      Justine this book is an INCREDIBLY UNIQUE experience! I know it isn’t universally loved and the format is probably difficult for some readers, but if you love sci-fi I think you will enjoy it. Happy reading when you get to it!

  7. Olivia-Savannah

    December 28, 2018 at 1:25 AM

    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.

    My recent post:

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:29 AM

      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!

      1. Olivia-Savannah

        December 31, 2018 at 4:55 PM

        I hope you love Obsidio just as much!!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 7, 2019 at 7:39 PM

          Me too, I am looking forward to it!

  8. Norrie

    December 28, 2018 at 3:35 AM

    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! 😀

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:32 AM

      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!

  9. jamsu

    December 28, 2018 at 5:51 AM

    I liked this book, especially the format but it wasn’t that good for me to continue the series 🤐

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:34 AM

      Awww I am sorry to hear that you weren’t compelled to continue with the trilogy! Gemina is even better than this one and I can tell that the trilogy is plotted really well; I’m excited to read Obsidio soon.

  10. Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!

    December 28, 2018 at 7:35 AM

    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. 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:38 AM

      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!

  11. Becca Leighanne (Bex)

    December 28, 2018 at 8:11 AM

    dkslfjslkdjflakjs KAL, this is such a good review & I 100% agree with EVERYTHING you say. I’m so glad that this was a squad read! <3

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:38 AM

      Aww thanks so much Bex, I had a great time writing this review!!! I am also so glad this was a squad read, we are really having amazing reads together! Looking forward to Obsidio in the future!

  12. waytoofantasy

    December 28, 2018 at 10:28 AM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:40 AM

      I honestly cannot recommend this book enough, I think the trilogy will probably be a yearly re-read for me based on my enjoyment so far! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Lisa!

      1. waytoofantasy

        December 31, 2018 at 10:41 AM

        Oh wow, well now I have to read it even sooner!

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 7, 2019 at 7:34 PM

          Yes and then let me know what you think. BETTER YET, live tweet me your thoughts so I can cackle

          1. waytoofantasy

            January 8, 2019 at 3:24 AM

            Hah, ok definitely. 🙂

  13. Lili Star Reads

    December 28, 2018 at 1:55 PM

    Awesome, I am always looking for great audiobooks to listen to!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 9:50 AM

      I don’t read many audiobooks (I have focus issues, but found reading along is great!) but this one is INCREDIBLE! I hope you enjoy it!

  14. Marie

    December 29, 2018 at 10:38 AM

    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 🙂

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 10:02 AM

      Awww thank you so much, Marie! I had such a fun time writing this review, and now am struggling to find the words to reflect on Gemina because WOW.

  15. lalafulton

    December 29, 2018 at 3:09 PM

    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!

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 10:04 AM

      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!

  16. Sophia (Bookwyrming Thoughts)

    December 29, 2018 at 10:52 PM

    YASSSS. Despite the lack of attention from me, I adored the audio book. I regret not paying closer attention but it was at night so don’t blame me. 😂

    I DO plan on listening and reading again though, because wow. 11/10 would recommend the audio.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      December 31, 2018 at 10:06 AM

      The audio was absolutely incredible, I never knew that there could be essentially movie-level production for audiobooks. You definitely need to do a re-read and pay more attention, Soph!

  17. thecritiquesofafangirl

    December 31, 2018 at 9:33 PM

    This sounds like an amazing, I really need to read it

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 7, 2019 at 7:46 PM

      If you like science fiction, I think this series is a must-read. It’s unique, unconventional, and weird but it is so enjoyable.

      1. thecritiquesofafangirl

        January 7, 2019 at 10:49 PM

        I have heard a lot of good things about d and I’m dying to read it

  18. The Content Cr_Eater

    January 1, 2019 at 2:24 AM

    I don’t get audiobooks too often but a full cast for an epistolary? Sign me up! 🤚 Thanks for that rec.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 7, 2019 at 7:48 PM

      YES! It is incredible and has sound effects like guns and pewpewpews. I was honestly blown away! I don’t read audiobooks hardly ever but the book and audio are so perfect together. Happy reading!

  19. My Favorite 2018 Reads – Reader Voracious Blog

    January 1, 2019 at 10:09 AM

    […] a coherent thought to write a review yet, but I did not expect to love this book more than Illuminae. […]

  20. December in Review // books, video games, & a whole lot of food – Reader Voracious Blog

    January 3, 2019 at 9:15 AM

    […] Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Illuminae is nothing short of incredible and I am so glad to have finally read it! | 📖 Read my full review […]

  21. sammers65

    January 4, 2019 at 1:55 PM

    MAH HEART IS SINGING THAT YOU LOVED ILLUMINAE THIS MUCH!!!! <3 Also Analyst 7213 is the greatest commentator in existence and I need them to comment my life for me, okay byeeeeee

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 9, 2019 at 8:39 PM

      Okay listen, Illuminae is the best book in the world and I love it so much but Gemina is better how was that possible. Analyst 7213 is my fave and he won my heart after referring to Kady as a spider monkey

      1. sammers65

        January 10, 2019 at 6:46 AM

        Oh I can’t wait for you to read Obsidio. *readies the popcorn*

        1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

          January 14, 2019 at 2:45 PM

          It may be awhile, I am not ready for the series to end!

  22. Kathy @ Books & Munches

    January 16, 2019 at 2:01 AM

    I’m no fan of audiobooks AT ALL but.. this has me curious.. I don’t know though. I can never focus on audiobooks enough and I feel like I’d read faster in my physical copy instead of trying to keep the pace of the audio? :’) ugh.

    1. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious

      January 16, 2019 at 9:23 AM

      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)

      1. Kathy @ Books & Munches

        January 17, 2019 at 1:53 AM

        Audio with.. full cast and sound effects.. I really should give the audio a chance then, haha. I’m going to keep it in mind for when I want to reread those books!

  23. Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Reader Voracious Blog

    January 24, 2019 at 8:51 AM

    […] I was sucked into Gemina immediately. It builds on the action from Illuminae and starts with a court proceeding of sorts for BeiTech. The evidence provided are the documents […]

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