5 out of 5 stars.
I received an ARC of this book.
It is not even funny how much I enjoyed this book. It is a fantastic mix of science fiction and horror.
Kady and Ezra’s planet has just been destroyed by a rival mining company. All of the survivors are crammed onboard 3 ships and running for safety. Then people on one ship start getting sick and the AI starts to malfunction.
If you ever wanted a zombie novel set in space, look no further. Illuminae is exciting, compelling and sometimes heartbreaking from beginning to end. Kaufman and Kristoff do an especially good job building tension throughout the book, as things go from bad (planet destroyed) to worse (people getting sick) to even worse (AI malfunctioning as insane sick people swarm ships). I had to read this book in one sitting because I could not wait to find out what happened.
Just as a stylistic note, this book is peppered with graphics and pattern poetry. The story is delivered through IM texting style writing, military-style observations from camera recordings of action, sometimes told through the perspective of the AI, and through various graphics, like posters for movies and hand-washing. It is visually interesting throughout and all the different bits and pieces of narrative style add to the mounting tension and confusion as the conditions aboard the ship rapidly deteriorate.
Kady and Ezra are really fun characters to read, with their romance being full of sarcasm, legitimate concerns over safety, fights, and, finally, a really sweet romance with two people who do not want to live without each other. Most of their communication is IM, complete with emoticons. I got quite a few giggles out of some of the pithy dialogue and really enjoyed their banter. Kady is also a great character because she is a tech genius and I love seeing female characters in untraditional roles, like tech-geek and hacker.
This is the second really horror-style science fiction I have read (the second being 172 Hours on the Moon) and being in space just makes things scarier. Reading Illuminae felt a lot like watching Alien for the first time. There is no place to run out in space and that makes things a thousand times creepier.
The plot was fast paced, several twists caught me by surprise and I started empathizing with the characters really quickly. This is one of 2015s best books.