Books, Reviews

REVIEW | Liked Battlestar Galactica? You’ll love Illuminae.

REVIEW | Liked Battlestar Galactica? You’ll love Illuminae.Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 20th 2015
Genre: Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Young Adult
599 pages
Goodreads page

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

Illuminae is riding the hype train right now – and it definitely deserves to! I happen to be a big fan of Battlestar Galactica (the 2004 reboot), and I couldn’t help but note some similarities…

Expect Battlestar Galactica + cyberpunk + zombie horror.

When the Twelve Colonies the mining colony on planet Kerenza is destroyed by an evil corporation, survivors take refuge on a tiny, ragtag fleet of ships led by the warship Battlestar Galactica Battlecarrier Alexander. Also fleeing Kerenza: science ships Copernicus and Hypatia.

In the chaos, disagreements ring out over heartbreaking tactical decisions. When superior officers die, those next in the chain of command are left with big shoes to fill.

Given the manpower shortage, ordinary civilians are conscripted according to skill. Those who pass spatial and reasoning tests become Viper pilots Cyclone pilots. They’re known by their call signs, and young Ezra hopes he gets one that sounds cooler than “Starbuck” “Sugarpants” or “Prettyboy”.

The ship is guided by dubiously-intentioned artificial intelligence called…
Cylons
Hal 9000
GlaDoS
AIDAN, who is programmed to protect the population of the fleet. AIDAN waxes philosophical about what it means to be truly “alive”.

As for the “cyberpunk” aspect: expect hacking and instant-messaging chats.

A pathogen aptly named Phobos spreads madness among the survivors. It doesn’t make them true “zombies” in the Walking Dead sense, but the effect is much the same: murderous deranged violence, low sensitivity to pain, a loss of “self”.

Constant updates on distance from the hostile warship and survivor count only help to emphasize the Battlestar Galactica feel. Compare a page from Illuminae (left) with stills from Battlestar Galactica (right):

illuminae-bsg

“High octane” is right.

The characters barely get a moment to rest – and neither does the reader. Illuminae is mostly dialogue and stream-of-consciousness, written like a fast-paced movie script.

Battle scenes are simulated with snippets of speech and half-formed thought, arranged in shapes on a dark page the way fighter ships might take formation in space. It’s a somewhat non-traditional format, but it really works.

In between all the battles: ruminations on attachment, trauma, and clinging to a last surviving friend as your emotional lifeline.

‘Illuminae’ is going to make a fantastic movie.

So say we all.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout December 10, 2015 at 12:58 am

    This is interesting because I read a negative review of Illuminae (okay, like, the only negative review I’ve read) that said it was too much like Battlestar Galactica! I’ve never watched that, though, so it probably won’t affect me much — I’ve already preordered it and super looking forward to it! It’d be interesting to see how they translate the non-trad format of the book into a movie, certainly.
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  • Reply AngelErin December 10, 2015 at 5:22 am

    Great review! This one is just such a fun read with the way it’s done.
    AngelErin recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday- Thief of Lies By: Brenda DrakeMy Profile

  • Reply Zoe @ Stories on Stage December 10, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    “Am I not merciful?”

    YES. I completely agree with everything you’ve said here. This was such an amazing book. Kady was an amazing and kickass lead, Ezra was a hilarious love interest, and the twists and turns at the end were just pheonominal. So glad you felt the same way! ♥ Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! xD
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  • Reply Regina December 11, 2015 at 1:03 am

    ” ‘Illuminae’ is going to make a fantastic movie.” I absolutely agree! I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that while I was reading. Fantastic book, great review! 🙂

  • Reply czai December 11, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I don’t read so much books that involves the space but this has really caught my attention already. I have it on my tbr and your review just made me want it more.. and what’s that zombie-like things you’re talking about? kind of makes me interested even more 😀
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  • Reply Jordyn @ J. Bookish December 12, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    I’ve actually seen somebody else say the two were similar and they didn’t like the book because of it! So if I’ve never seen it… will I like it? I like Star Wars, if that counts 😉

    • Paloma
      Reply Paloma December 13, 2015 at 9:51 am

      It depends, you’ll have to try it and see! 😉 Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica may both be sci-fi, but they’re very different shows. BSG is darker, less comedic, and more about the human drama. And there are robots, but no aliens.

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