Friday, October 16, 2015

Me on Illuminae

Title: Illuminae
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Release Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House imprint)

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.

Illuminae is enthralling, expansive, and inescapable. On one side, there's Kady and Ezra, navigating the small spaces they've been given, trying to understand. But there's something bigger happening around them. Something they can't escape from.

Kady, on the Hypatia, is desperate to know the truth. Desperate to find those she cares about. She's not really concerned about herself, she's all about uncovering the truth and doing whatever she has to do to find it. Even if that means breaking a rule or two. Ezra's trying to survive in his new post-Kerenza role aboard the Alexander as a fighter pilot. He's trying to live, trying to not miss Kady too much. Trying to understand what's being asked of him. Both have their battles to fight, but both are still trying to sort out their feelings. There were a number of things left unsaid between the two of them when Kerenza was attacked, when Kady dumped Ezra that morning. The months apart on separate ships, in separate situations, have changed the both of them significantly. But each of them still needs the other, no matter what happened before.

AIDEN. So many things could be said about AIDEN. How realistic the voice is, how complicated the questions it begins to ask itself as it comes back online, where its motivation comes from. It's like watching someone go mad but still retain their sanity. It's like watching an infant realize they're a fully-grown person. As an artificial intelligence, AIDEN is driven by logic and code, by ones and zeroes, by commands, but it fractures, splinters, and what AIDEN becomes is nothing short of both haunting and glorious. It's hard to describe how much I was fascinated by AIDEN.

The way this story is told, through found documents, IM chats, maps and diagrams, plus the musings of a crippled artificial intelligence, is so unique. They show what's happening to everyone, Kady and Ezra aren't the only people in the story. There are other characters, other people, that are important to their plots and plans. Why shouldn't their little moments be told?

I couldn't stop reading this book. I had to know what happened next, what Kady would discover, what Ezra would face. What AIDEN would do. It felt like I'd been tossed into this world, confronted with eye-witness accounts and files and videos of something real, and would never reach and end. Until I reached the end and had to leave. It was so intriguing, seeing both the little picture of Kady and Ezra's journeys and the bigger picture of the Hypatia, the Alexander, and the doom they're headed for. I'm so curious as to what will happen next, what the even bigger picture is. Because you know it's there. Waiting.

(I received an ARC of this title from a blogger who attended BEA 2015.)

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