Illuminae 1 by Amy Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The YA category has really needed an original book like this for a long time: something beautifully graphic and original; with an engaging story and endless amounts of wonderful snark. Nothing in Illuminae is straightforward and that’s the beauty of its inventive plot: everything from emails, to IMs, Wikipedia-like entries, classified interviews and government documents, notes, spec sheets, news stories, and more all work together to tell the story. This is a book that I enjoyed the digital version so much that I went out and bought the hardback the day it was released.

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Story: Two teens, Kady and Ezra, have a really day: the break up and then their world is invaded and their colony bombed into oblivion (the victim of a war between rival corporations). Escaping on several crippled ships (à la Battlestar Gallactica), they will soon find themselves embroiled in a zombie apocalypse, deranged AI machinations, an interstellar war, and the realization that perhaps they really do care about each other after all.

Although the story may sound tongue in cheek, really what we have is a lot of glorious snark and some very cheeky but fun protagonists. The writing is snappy, fresh, and distinctly sharp – I had a smile through most of the time I was reading. As with Kaufman and Kristoff’s other books, each builds characters that are engaging and endearing – you want to follow them off a cliff if that’s where they decide to go. But the plot moves around them and twists are introduced in the cleverest of ways. Those who enjoyed the authors’ previous works, especially Kaufman’s Shattered Stars, will likely greatly enjoy Illuminae.

The physical copy is quite creative and well worth the buy over the electronic version. Several things are easier to read/follow and the dustjacket alone is worth the price.

In all, I really loved Illuminae and greatly look forward to volumes 2 and 3 in the near future. This is a really welcome addition to the YA fantasy/sci fi genre. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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