The Illuminae files – Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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Sci-fi and Young Adult fans listen up, this review is for you! I’m a bit late to the party in reviewing the Illuminae files series as it’s been around for a couple of years now. I had put off reading this book because a flick through the pages in the bookstore gave me the impression this book was a bit unusual and I was right… but in the best way possible.

What’s the book about?

In the year 2575 corporations battle against one another to control a tiny ice planet, Kerenza.

No regard is given to the people currently living there.

Kady thought her issues with her boyfriend Ezra were the biggest problem to face her. That is until her planet is invaded and she an Ezra have to battle their way off-planet.

The struggles don’t stop there, with a virus mutating onboard the vessel supposed to be carrying them to safety. An enemy vessel in close pursuit and the AI of the ship corrupted and potentially dangerous. The teens will have to face these challenges head on, as well as figure out just what is going on aboard the ship, and why.

This story is told through a dossier of hacked files including emails, military files, chatroom discussions, schematics and more. The first in the trilogy The Illuminae Files _01 came out in 2015.

I first read this book as an ebook from my library and enjoyed it so much I picked up the hardback. Isn’t it pretty?

What I liked about this book?

Let me just preface what I’m about to say by saying I had very low expectations for this book. I’ve seen it in bookstores, on blogs, and social media (especially #bookstagram) with rave reviews.

I generally find books with a lot of hype surrounding them to be a disappointing experience when I do get around to reading them. Is this the case for anyone else, or just me?

I didn’t know if the format of this book would be something I would enjoy. The book is told through various different mediums, as I mentioned above. Flipping through the book at a glance can therefore look pretty confusing.

I actually really, really enjoyed this book! It’s currently my top read of 2019 The formatting of the book actually added to the experience. I would describe the book as drawing on some elements of a graphic novel.

I think the authors really understand that it’s not just what words you put in your novel but how you present them that can impact the reading experience. This book was action packed, yet had moments of quiet and beauty.

The characters of this book are great. They’re amusing, but so strong. I enjoyed the banter. You find yourself caring about even the relatively minor characters. The clever way the authors didn’t have any swearing in their novel at all was entertaining. Instead they made the lack of swearing an element of the story in and of itself (all cuss words are redacted with a black mark).

What I liked least about this book?

There’s not much to write in this section. I was surprised by how much I really genuinely enjoyed this book.

Some people may not like the format of this book, or find the romance between the two main characters Kady and Ezra a bit cliché. There are certainly moments of that, but overall I think this book does a pretty good job of being unique and really well written.

I have read the second and third book of this series, Gemina – Illuminae Files 0_2 and ObsidioIlluminae Files 0_3. I have a few critiques of those books but as I’m not reviewing the series as a whole here, I’ll save those for another day.

Do you look under the dust jackets of your hardback books? The Illuminae files cover is so detailed and beautiful, the dust jacket is an opaque plastic so some of the words shine through when it’s on.

About the Authors

This book is co-authored by Aime Kaufman (author of the Starbound trilogy) and Jay Kristoff (author of the Lotus War trilogy). These authors live in Melbourne, which it always excites me to see authors from the same city as me. There’s something about the closeness of these creative people that is inspiring.


There you go. I just wrote one of those hype reviews I was talking about. But after reading this book I know why. It’s because this book is AWESOME.

If you like fast-paced books, books set in space and books that make you care about all characters deeply – this book is for you. I can’t recommend it more highly. The experience of reading this book is unique and beautiful in its medium, and the story it tells.

*I picked up my beautiful hardcover copy from the Book Depository here. If you prefer paperback editions you can find them here.

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Looking for more bookish content? Find me on Instagram @stephhuddlestonwriting.

What are some of your favourite reads so far in 2019? Tell me about them by replying to this post. I’m always adding to my to be read pile.

Happy reading!


  1. So glad to hear you enjoyed Illuminae! I felt similar to you when I finally read it – I’d heard so many amazing things about the book that I wasn’t sure it would live up to the hype… but it certainly did. Now I need to complete my hardcopy collection of the books (at the moment, I only have Gemina).


    1. Thanks for commenting Katie! The whole series is fantastic. I picked up a copy of ‘Aurora Rising’ by this author duo recently. It’s quite good too. Books set in space are quite fun really!


  2. Excellent review, Steph. I read this a while back and still need to read book 2 and 3, although I fear they might not be as good as the first one. I did, however, see one of the biggest plot twists of this book coming so it had me less mindblown by it all but I still agree that it was fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting Lashaan! I found book 2 and 3 quite good still, but the character development was not as great as in the first book. They’re still worth a read as the whole series works as a unit.

      Liked by 1 person

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