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Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01

By Katherine Keller on October 3, 2015 3:01 PM | Permalink

Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Alfred A. Knopf, 2015. 599 pages

Sci Fi
High School: 9-12
CML Juvenile Fiction: JuvFic Kaufman

Kady and her boyfriend Ezra lead normal teenage lives on Kerenza, an illegal mining colony on a distant planet. The biggest thing they’ve ever had to deal with is their recent breakup, which has left both of them angry, hurt, and distracted from their everyday lives, but when Biotech, a competing company that wants Kerenza’s resources for itself, attacks their planet, they come face to face with the reality that there are worse things in life than disagreements about their future.  In an unprecedented and unfathomable move, Biotech shows no mercy to the citizens of Kerenza, killing everyone so that there are no witnesses to report their crime, but some of the refugees, including Kady and Ezra, are able to escape due to a small fleet of space ships willing to put their lives at risk to evacuate the planet.  The refugees and their saviors now find themselves being hunted through space by the remaining Biotech ship which is determined that no one will survive to tell about the massacre.  With the lives of thousands at stake, Kady and Ezra must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to have their story heard. 

Illuminae contributes to the YA literature word with a unique style of writing and format. Containing only chat conversations, transcripts, official memos, surveillance videos, and graphical verbal representations of events, it exists in its entirely as a dossier of the events following the Kerenza massacre. The Illuminae Group has been tasked with gathering all of the original sources and per their instructions, have blacked out any curse words and include any official censoring of documents. This, in addition to commentary from the Illuminae group, creates a layer of sophistication to the writing and introduces readers to a new, and highly successful, form of storytelling.  The plot itself includes traditional elements of science fiction mixed with horror which adds an additional level of uniqueness.  Kafuman and Kristoff don’t pull any punches with this gut wrenching tale of survival.

Although a science fiction title, Illuminae will entertain and be accessible by more than sci fi fans.  Reluctant readers who are intimidated by word heavy texts will find its unique format refreshing and interesting, with each chapter providing a different visual layout. Readers who are fans of horror fiction, especially anything dealing with zombies, will appreciate the added element of danger that threatens the escaping fleet, and although a love story is included in the text and plays an important role, it is not overly romantic.  Kady is a strong female lead who is easy to relate to by most readers yet is not without her limitations.  Illuminae is recommended for anyone interested in something new and innovated or is looking for a good action packed story of conspiracy and survival.    

Publication date is set for October, 2015.


Amanda Melilli - Head, Curriculum Materials Library