I kept hearing things about Illuminae when it first came out but it took me over a year to read it for the first time which I did in March of 2017. I was initially hesitant because of the way I’d heard it was formatted. It’s not a straight novel or even told in verse. No, it’s much different.
Illuminae is set in the year 2575 where two rival megacorporations are at war over the planet Kerenza and our two main characters, Kady and Ezra, are right in the middle of it. They end up getting off of the planet and onto a ship only to discover that their problems are not over. Not only is their fleet being pursued by an enemy warship but there’s also a deadly plague and the fleet’s AI isn’t behaving like a normal AI at all.
Only the story isn’t being told in real time. The bulk of the novel is told through hacked documents: emails and instant messages, military files, medical reports, and descriptions of surveillance feeds. And that’s why I was initially hesitant to read it. I thought it would be awkward and annoying to follow a story told in that type of format. Only, it wasn’t. It was actually very engaging.
Then, this year, I read a lot of things which said the audiobook was also very interesting and I wondered how that would work given that the book is such a visual thing. So I decided to give it a try and I ended up loving that too (though I did keep a copy of the book nearby so I could compare/see what I was missing by only listening).
So here’s a breakdown of the good and the bad in regards to the audiobook.
- Kady and Ezra’s back and forth was fun with their sarcasm and flirtiness and Ezra’s voice was very appealing.
- I liked how the audiobook was able to add some fun audio elements as well with the whirrs of machines, beeping during countdowns, ability to hear music when it was mentioned, and the sound of gunfire and what not closer to the end. That made for a very interesting listening experience.
- The video surveillance analyst had an awesome accent. I mean, a lot of the characters had really cool accents that were fitting with their names but the analyst’s was very fun to listen to. And he was playful even though he had to narrate some of the worst atrocities the book described.
- There was a section where one of the crazy plague victims was stalking our main girl and the sound of his voice was creepy as heck. It actually send shivers up my spine.
- Since Illuminae is so visual you’d definitely lose some of the context if you didn’t have the book open beside you while you listened to the audio version. The audiobook did try to describe some of the images but obviously couldn’t handle them all and a lot of times the way the words were written, in swoops or certain designs, was actually pretty important.
- AIDAN’s voice. I actually ended up liking the creepy AI system but his voice didn’t seem quite right. I was expecting something a little more robotic sounding than it was.
Overall I really, really enjoyed the audiobook and look forward to rereading, and first time listening, to the second. Plus, now the third and final book in the series is out and I am so ready for it!