Trigger warnings: animal cruelty, war, death, executions, child death, gun violence, injury and death of a loved one, explosions, sexual harassment, blood, violence, gore, starvation, mass murder.
This year, I’ve raced though this gripping, unique and simply brilliant sci-fi trilogy, so I thought that I should share my thoughts.
I’m only including the synopsis for Illuminae to give you a taster of the series and as the later ones contain spoilers.
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.
I really, really loved the use of multiple formats throughout the series, with hacked documents, emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews and more. It felt so unique and refreshing, with this added depth and complex world-building, but also makes you speed through the book, as the chapters are often short and snappy. If you look closely, you can find out little plot hints and tiny details that show the brilliance of the writers’ craft.
The series as a whole is tense, heart-stopping, imaginative and just phenomenal. What initially seem like simple storylines become complex and extremely emotionally charged. Every character, be they primary or secondary, is complex and at least slightly developed. You will inevitably love this ragtag bunch of misfits and become attached to them, as they are so realistically written, even though transcripts. One of the most interesting for me has to be the complex AI Aidan, as he gave me 2001: Space Odyssey vibes but with more nuance and depth to his character.
Personally, I was gripped from the first page and never quite escaped, desperately reserving and picking up each book. The writing is truly unputdownable, fiercely clever and descriptive considering the format. Emotions spill out of the page and what could easily just be a space soap opera becomes really layered and imaginative. The horror elements fit in seamlessly and are genuinely unnerving, making it stand out even more.
Essentially, the Illuminae Files series is a thrilling, electrifying series that tackles found family, the importance of your voice and corruption against a backdrop of romantic entanglements and space politics.