Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Content/Trigger Warning: War themes, graphic details, mass death, suicide, trauma, PTSD, anxiety

“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”


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.

Side Note:

Highly recommend the physical book over the audiobook. If you do the audiobook, I highly recommend having the physical book with you while listening to it. I ended up missing this little detail… BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” I think not seeing these little details really had an effect on my reading experience. So I am hoping that I’ll get the chance to reread this book in the future with an actual physical copy.

This book took me absolutely forever to finish unlike with my spouse who practically devoured this audiobook. In my defense, we have been buddy reading this since the end of April and we agreed to a three month reading (or listening period, rather) period. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan a through breakdown of this because we both jumped into it immediately.

After so many friends and other fellow readers telling me that I needed to read this book, I finally picked up the audiobook. This was one of two other choices for a buddy read between my spouse and I. This was the one we both mutually agreed on. I had so many friends cheer that I picked this up. My only issue, I’m not a big sci-fi reader and sci-fi is one of my most challenging genres to put myself into. So, I was a little skeptical about reading this book especially since my track record with sci-fi books is like me trying to trudge through quick sand. However, I gave this book a shot with a dash of benefit of the doubt and have some mixed feelings.

🌻 HypatiaThe ship Kady is located on
🌻 AlexanderThe ship Ezra is located on
🌻 Copernicus – Third ship in the fleet
🌻 LicolnEnemy battleship

Main Characters:
🌻 Kady GrantTech expert, takes things seriously, protege of her master Byron Zhang, girlfriend to Ezra Mason
🌻 Ezra MasonEasy going, likes to joke around, pilot ident, boyfriend to Kady Grant
🌻 AIDANAlso known as Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network, AI of the Alexander

“The universe owes you nothing, Kady. 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 to do something worth remembrance.”

My Thoughts:

I’m not going to lie, this was a really slow book for me to get into. I probably didn’t start getting into the book till about two and a half quarters, borderline three quarters, through the book before I actually started to become interested in what was happening. The beginning felt really slow and at first didn’t make a lot of sense. It was really hard for me to figure out what was happening. It was especially hard when it felt like so many perspectives were happening all at once in such a quick amount of time. As I stated above, there were parts that I ended up missing because they were images and I ended up listening to this instead of reading an actual physical copy of the book. So I think that played a part in why things maybe didn’t make sense or it felt like I was missing key details.

My only saving grace during the first two and a half quarters of this book was Ezra’s banter, the interactions between Kady and Byron, and the interactions between Ezra and Kady. These were some of the interesting points that would capture my attention and want to know more. I find both of the main characters very interesting and it was wonderful to see how their personalities went hand in hand with each other so well. That slow burn between them so so wonderful. In fact, I found myself really connected with Kady and Ezra’s relationship. I found it very similar to my own relationship between my spouse and myself. When I found that connection, I definitely felt more invested in Ezra and Kady. Not just as a couple, but also as individual characters. Kady is a very intelligent and entertaining character and Ezra is not only witty, but also shows his vulnerability. It was also nice to see a healthy relationship put to the test, but still handled in a healthy way especially during difficult times. They were like each other’s anchor and even though they each faced some hardships, they kept one another grounded. I wish we had more main character couples like Kady and Ezra.

“I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.”

AIDAN, however, is an entirely different story. I have so many mixed feelings about AIDAN. This AI was something I hadn’t expected. Brownie points to both of these talented authors for creating an AI that remind me of the AI, GLaDOS from Portal 2 and the AI, H.A.L. 9000 from A Space Odyssey. Also, plenty of kudos for the both of them making AIDAN have some human characteristics. For making this AI frightening, heartbreaking, caring, so human and real, and reminding me of my one of my favorite characters from Mass Effect, Legion. His point of views are unique and will definitely capture the reader’s attention, but I will admit, there are some parts that I found were giving me creepy vibes and goosebumps.

“If I breathed, I would sigh. I would scream. I would cry.”

And while there were things I really liked, one of the most unforgettable and horrifying things that this audiobook kept making me relive was playing through the Dead Space franchise. There were parts where my skin crawled and my adrenaline felt like it was kicking into over gear. If you have played that game franchise and read this book, then you know what I’m talking about. Some of those climatic scenes on the Alexander had me almost falling out of my seat, with my soul escaping my body due to imagining everything.

I think my biggest struggle was the ending though. Yes, I got a little emotional, shed a few tears, worried for Kady and AIDAN there for a few good minutes, but ultimately semi-liked the ending. I think my struggle with the ending was mostly with the time gap. It felt a little rushed and for me, it was a bit confusing on how we went from one point of time to a year later. It felt rushed or at least left something to be desired in the ending. Other than that, I thought the ending was cute and it encourages the reader to go forward with the next book in the series.

Overall, I think this was a good book especially for my first book by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. As I stated before, I definitely think the physical book would have been a better choice for myself just because it did feel like I was missing a lot of details. However, this book had me debating left and right on how to rate this book and after sitting on my feelings for it for a couple of days, I think I genuinely liked this book. I’m shocked and I’m kind of eager to start looking into reading the next book in the series. Who knew I would end up liking a sci-fi book outside of Star Wars!

“She is catalyst.

She is chaos.

I can see why he loves her.”


4 thoughts on “Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

  1. If you get a chance- check out the physical copy of this book too! I’ve heard the audio is great on all of them- but the physical format is so much fun, I have a hard time imagining experiencing them any other way.


  2. Pingback: June 2019 Wrap Up

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