Illuminae (The Illuminae Files 01) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

illuminae_612x380This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded. 

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.

How Illuminae inspired my writing

Talent is motivating.

It didn’t take long for me to get used to the (clever) storytelling method used in this book. Admittedly, at first I wondered whether I would be able to maintain my mind’s link to the story through this patchworked method, but I needn’t have worried. Like a patchwork quilt, it works. Beautifully.

Very quickly, I came to understand the varying communication methods and their “character”, and I appreciated their use as a vehicle for maintaining suspense.

And, bloody hell, it was a great story! As a feminist, I loved the sincerity of Kady’s intelligence, strength, sass and humour, and felt relief that other characters admired her, looked up to her, loved and feared her – with nothing forced or obvious about it.

It’s this apparent ease of portraying character that I so enjoy, and which inspires my own writing. I find this one of the more difficult aspects of developing a story, particularly when, as someone who is new to writing novel-length fiction, you’re so conscious of portraying characters in a way that challenges stereotypes.

Re-reading my own writing, I see spots where my own feminist and fight-for-the-underdog tendencies are so damned obvious it’s embarrassing. In fact, I’m also building a solid list of things I need to work on in my own writing so that when I sign up for my next writing course (I think it’ll be this one), I have more clarity around what I need.

Lastly, more than the left-of-field method used for telling the Illuminae story, it is the creative approach that I loved – and that the publisher was willing to take a (probably calculated) risk in presenting a story in a new way. It was exciting to see some out-of-the-box thinking.

Can’t wait for the next one Amie and Jay.

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