Today’s review is on Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
So for whatever reason, I decided to reread Illuminae. I’ve been meaning to do so for a while but never got around to it – probably because I felt pressured to read all the other books on my TBR (pressure I put on myself). After struggling to get into another book, I decided it was time to reread an old favorite and remember why it was a favorite, as well as whether I still feel the say way about it almost 5 years after reading it for the first time.
Now, I do already have a review for Illuminae, However I wanted to write another one (without looking at my previous one) to see how different this review ends up being from the original one. This will also contain more spoilers, because this is going to be part review and part reading journal. So without further ado, here is my new and, hopefully, improved review of Illuminae.
Ilumminae starts off on the illegal mining colony planet Kerenza, everything is business as usual when all of a sudden the planet is attacked by a BeiTech fleet (which is a huge corporation in this world), people are dying but several thousand make it off the planet safely – including Kady Grant and Ezra Mason, our main characters who also broke up several hours before the start of the book. There are three ships that make up the fleet: war vessel Alexander, science vessel Hypatia and freighter Copernicus. Their goal is to make it to the Heimdall jump station before they are caught and taken down by the Lincoln, a BeiTech vessel that will show no mercy, but they might have trouble on their hands amongst themselves, and especially with the Alexader’s AI, AIDAN.
Just like it did the first time, it took me about 20 pages to get into Illuminae, but after that it is very quick-paced! However, I deliberately took my time with readint it because I wanted to savor it. It’s also amazing what I ended up remembering from the first time I read it, and what I didn’t remember.
First, I forgot how much the leadership kept the evacuees in the dark about what was going on – I get that they were trying to keep people calm. Also Captain Torrance is a major jerk with how he tries to strong arm everyone!!
Also I forgot that Kady is a strong character and how she is willing to do whatever it takes to discover the truth of what is going on – however, she is kind of morally gray considering the fact that she doesn’t seem to really caree who takes the fall for her actions.
And I forgot that at the start of the novel there were there were three ships of Kerenza evacuees…now I know why… AIDAN goes rogue and forces the Alexander to destroy the Copernicus because there is a threat of a virus on board and it determines it is the “best” outcome. It is interesting to see how it has become somewhat sentitent, but in a selfish way.
I had also forgotten about how the Phobos virus was the result of a bioweapon that BeiTech had dropped on certain parts of Kerenza. It was interesting to read, especially since I was reading it in the height of COVID-19.
I also love how we are finding out the information along with the characters over time, especially regarding what really happened on the Copernicus before it was destroyed.
I also forgot how ruthless AIDAN, like it knows that it’s job is to protect the fllet and wants to do so, but it also doesn’t want to be shut down again It’s answer to get rid of the very people who have the power to do so is to release the quarantined people who have the Phobos virus and are deranged as a result, to go after the leadership of the Alexander, as well as expose everyone to the virus. It’s almost like it thinks it is a merciful thing to do, especially since the Lincoln will comeback to destroy them. I think it is interesting that AIDAN keeps repeating the phrase, “Am I not merciful?” when it really isn’t. But it also can’t tell the difference between right and wrong because it is an AI, but yet it is sentient of the fact that it does not want to be shut down again and seems to be protecting itsef – almost as if it feared death. It definitely reminds me of HAL300 from 2001:A Space Odyssey, which is a book I really need to read since I’ve only seen the Stanley Kubrick film. In fact, whenever AIDAN speaks or we read from it’s perspective, in my head I read it in the same voice as HAL3000. The same kind of chilling, calm monotone voice, that has a “perfect” explanation for it’s actions.
What’s even more intersting is when it threatens to destroy the Hypatia when it tries to get as far away from the Alexander as it can. AIDAN’s logic is faulty, but then again it doesn’t really have feelings -although it seems to have some sense of self-preservation and revenge.
The way Ezra describes some of the scenes of what he sees the “afflicted” doing on the Alexander seem to be like something out a horror movie, but it doesn’t faze me much…maybe there are some types of horror I can endure? Who knows? I don’t think I want to try and find that out.
I love how there’s a conversation with the phrase “O Captain, my captain,” and it bother refers to the poem by Walt Whitman and the movie Dead Poets’ Society (which is a great movie and I highly recommed it) even though that conversation ends in a sad way.
RIP James McNulty! The scene with his last will and testament is so sad! There are so many side characters in this book (and series) whose deaths are so gut-wrenching. I almost cried several times during my reread.
Even though AIDAN is the villain, it is interesting to get it’s persepctive of the people descending into madness because of the virus, and even it is kind of surprised by it. I find it fascinating that it beleives that what it is doing was for the greater good, even though a lot of the chaos that takes place is it’s fault. It’s also interesting because there are moments when it seems like AIDAN is having an existential crisis even though it is merely an AI,
Even though Kady at first seemed to be morally gray, she has a good sense of what is right and what is wrong. She willinly sacrifice her life for the several hundred survivors still left on the Alexander, as well as the lives of those on the Hypatia. It’s interesting how AIDAN cares for Kady and it cannot bear the fact of anything bad happening to her and does what it can to stave off enemies. Even as an AI, it clearly is grappling with some kind of emotion, an it’s confused by it because it is something that it had not previously known. It’s also interesting how the ship serves as AIDAN”s body. Thankfully, the bad guys, the dreadnought Lincoln, are blown to smitherens and the Hypatia is able to continue on her journye to the Heimdall Jump Station.
I found it interesting that near it’s impending doom, AIDAN seems to be scared of “death” or going offline.
I completely forgot the big reveal in the last 10 pages… we sicover that Ezra’s mom is the Executive Director of BeiTech, which definitely adds a whole other dimesnsion to why Kerenza was attacked, especially since we are told that the reason Ezra and his dad moved to Kerenza was to hide from her!
I really loved my re-read of Illuminae – in fact, I read it a lot quicker than I thought I would. Once again, I enjoyed the format of a dossier folder with mixed media text. It definitely kept me engaged the whole time.
I am planning on doing reviews like this for both Gemina and Obsidio, so stay tuned for those, especially since I decided to marathon them since I have not read them back to back before. 5/5 Stars.
Janelle L. C.