Illuminae - Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman Actual rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Illuminae is a book that everyone and their mother has heard about by now right? I mean, even if you're living under a rock, the buzz for this one has most certainly made it's way to your rock. I still remember hitting up BEA15 last year and this bad boy was EVERYWHERE. It had posters, tables filled with copies...even the freaking staircase was done up Illuminae-style.

Upon getting my hands on the gorgeous hardback ARCs they were handing out, I remember thinking: there is NO WAY that this book could possibly live up to the mad hype. So I tucked it away for the moment and set my expectations as low as possible. That is...until the reviews started rolling in. Naturally, the ridiculous praise it was garnering made me weary, but I also knew that, yeah, I was going to have to read this one as soon as possible.

And so here we are - I've finally joined the hordes and read Illuminae. As thick as it is, I read it in three sittings and in less than a week's time. Granted, due to it's unique format, many of the pages have very little in the way of text, but the rate I read it should speak to one important aspect of this book: it is ridiculously addictive and compulsively readable. While it's true that the found-footage-style of this book won't be for everyone - personally, I was slightly confused by it all at first...there were so many ship names + crew names + nicknames + computer names to remember at first - but I just went with it and eventually it all sort of fell into place...only to be blown apart, by one twist after another. Reading this book, my eyes were constantly bulging out of my head. I yelled HOLY SHIT and WHAT THE FUCK out loud to myself on multiple occasions. Whenever I was forced to stop reading for things like sleep, food or to spend time with the boyfriend, my mind kept consistently going over what I just read - or wondering what the hell would happen next. This book is a mind-fuck, pure and simple and a brilliantly executed one at that!

I won't go into any of the finer plot details, because Illuminae is a book best left a mystery until you're ready to read it for yourself. I didn't even read the blurb until after I finished the book, but if you're curious, I recommend reading the blurb, as it reveals nothing but the bare minimum of what to expect. The plot itself wasn't terribly confusing, you just need to allow yourself some time to get your bearings and to acclimatise yourself to the format at hand. Taken separately, certain aspects of the story were familiar - the AI specifically was reminiscent of the one in I, Robot, some of its dialogue had shades of the movie Gladiator (''Am I Not Merciful?'')...similarly, the romance took a while to grow and develop, but the way every aspect comes together is what makes this book so explosive!

Illuminae features more twists that I can even count. When the first big one rolled around, I was completely floored. And then the hits just keep coming. The AI, the Virus, the countdowns to explosions, meltdown, destruction, death ..., ...GAH! This is a book that should be read for the experience alone: it is unlike any other book out there. It will consume you, destroy you, scare the crap out of you, break you, and leave you begging for more! Fans of sci-fi and wholly-original stories should absolutely check this one out. Just be ready to have your entire life ruined in the process.

This review was previously featured on my blog: Photobucket