Review: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff - "The Illuminae Files"
Sure. Go Ahead. Rip my heart out.
“The universe owes you nothing...It has already given you everything, after all. It was here long before you, and it will go on long after you. The only way it will remember you is if you do something worthy of remembrance.”
I heard about "Illuminae" from someone on booktube. I can't even remember who of the people I follow on there it was but their reaction was so enthusiastic that it just stuck in my head.
Fast forward two weeks and I am at my local library, browsing the shelves and I find part 2 and 3 of the series in the English section. For a brief moment, I consider just putting the first one on order and hope the other two are still there by the time it arrives. Knowing this never works, I remember in time that I am bilingual and that they might have a copy of the first book in the section which is actually in my mothertongue. Success! All three books of the trilogy waiting to be devoured by one Jools Aguemont, who doesn't have time for a binge-read but still dives in head-first and I guess the fact that I finished all three in less than two weeks even though I have a full-time-job and a course of studies to manage speaks for itself.
"The Illuminae Files" were different from anything I ever read before because, well, they redefine the term "novel". The reader doesn't get a continious narration from one or two viewpoints, we get an assortment of files. Some of them are chat protocols or transcripts of conversations done via the communications systems. Some are trancripts of video footage. Some are an AI's inner monologue. If anyone had told me about this, I would not have expected to develop any kind of emotion towards any of the characters. And I would have been wrong. You will love those characters. With all of their flaws and all their problems and all their weirdness.
The first book might work as a standalone, but I really think the glory of the story is only revealed if you do like I did and just binge the whole lot. What you get is not only loveable and awesome characters but also a fast-paced science-fiction story which has everything you want from a science-fiction story including wormholes, aliens and geeky tech-stuff.
The books are YA, so our protagonists are mostly in their late teens, but it didn't much bother me especially as the trope of the absent parent, even though included at some point, was rejected half-way through (and no, I don't think this is a spoiler).
The way the story is told is unique, the way the writing is used is sometimes crazily creative and I absolutely adore the badass females in this. Especially Ella. If you read this book and join the Ella fanclub, please contact me via Twitter and let me know!
While "Illuminae" just reached the point where I was screaming at the book incoherently, both "Gemina" and "Obsidio" had me in tears. "Gemina" managed it once, "Obsidio" managed it twice and believe me, I am not easily crying over books.
There's a single critique point that I have, and that is: I could feel the structure. Meaning: As someone who has spent a damn lot of time creating plotlines for novels in the past few years, I could actually have told you where exactly which section happened in terms of the "Save the cat writes a novel" beat sheet. Not per se a bad thing, but it still kind of bugged me and made me question whether I have ruined reading for me by becoming a plotting monster.
Four out of four book-piles for this absolutely marvellous journey!