Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I've been accused of being prejudiced against YA fiction, justly, and mainly because I've been the first to admit that I get so tired of the same old blah.
Good news, everyone! I loved this YA book!
At first, I was worried that all the layout gimmicks ranging from ascii art to pretty space-battle action sequences made up of small text MIGHT be a way to hide the fact that there was no solid story, emotional impact, developing characters, or a wonderful hodge-podge of nutritious SF staples.
I couldn't be happier to learn that I was wrong!
And get this: The freaking novel is a romance! And I loved the romance in it! NO ONE is more surprised than me. There's so much crap out there. And this wasn't crap!
The gimmicks work, first of all. Found electronic documents make up most of the text, including internal memos, instant messaging, and heavily encrypted diaries. As for the nuts and bolts, we've got attacked colonies, limping and abused space battlecruisers, deranged AI, bioplagues, brilliant hackers, star pilot jockeys, and enough intrigue to raise your dander AND make you call out for some serious revenge. That's all fine and dandy, you say, but how was the story? Did they pull it off?
Hell yes. Hell, Hell, Hell yes. This was an action adventure that reminded me of the best parts of that first Starship Troopers movie, full of bright lights and sarcasm. Add to it a ton of mystery with absolutely fantastic pacing and conflict on all sides, a truly emotional rollercoaster between our star-crossed lovers evolving into a major rescue attempt that turns into something truly heroic beyond a mere selfish desire to save her love, and we've got an awesome winner.
It may not break new ground in the SF categories, except in being fully up-to-date in internetese and subculture joyrides, but the WAY that this novel pulls it off was pure enjoyment. I couldn't put the book down until I was absolutely FORCED TO BY FORCES OF NATURE BEYOND MY CONTROL: IE., my daughter.
And all the while, I promised myself that I'd recommend this book to her when she's a new teen. The main characters are 17-18 range, but screw that. I would have gotten everything about this novel when I was 12. I would have enjoyed it even more because it packed a ton of punches from so many sides. It was damn exciting, creative, and it made me cry.
Yes. It made me cry. I got all emotional all over this book. I thank all the stars in heaven for all the good books I've read this year to make up for all the crap.
Here's to the truly excellent! Here's to Illuminae!
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