Illuminae – book review

Illuminae

Illuminae is an intriguing and one-of-a-kind novel, written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. Then 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, the fleet’s AI has turned frighteningly psychopathic, and no body will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into the 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…

*

This is probably one of the most talked about books in recent times. I had heard so much about Illuminae before I even started reading it – and I was even lucky enough to receive a signed Illuminae poster from Allen & Unwin! But sometimes, I feel like hearing too much about a book before reading it isn’t a good thing. Although, admittedly, this book is amazing, I don’t think any book should be built up so high that if people don’t experience the same evangelical zeal as you do when reading it, they should be shunned. Instead, people need to be able to read a book at their own pace, have time to ponder on it and collect their thoughts, and then share their thoughts in a calm and collected manner. I’m guilty of sometimes screaming at you through reviews, raving on and on about how good a book is – and I apologise about that. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop anytime soon. I’m selfish, I know. Like every book, Illuminae was both brilliant and of course, like all things, flawed. It was a very enjoyable read but if you are going to read Illuminae, I recommend not putting it on a pedestal before reading it. Enjoy it at your own pace and decide from there how you’d rate it.

One thing that I was very surprised about when reading this book was its general layout. May I be so bold to proclaim that there is no traditional prose in this novel? Yes, there are some moments where there is a retelling, or ‘surveillance account’ about what happened, but there was nothing like you’d find when opening up your average YA book. I definitely think that’s worth knowing before picking up this book. A lot of this novel is told mostly in the form of instant messages, emails and other documents. I loved how unique this book was in that aspect. The format of Illuminae is honestly the new free verse poetry novel. We all thought books like Rumble by Ellen Hopkins and One by Sarah Crossan were awesome because of the way they’re written, but now Illuminae is going to rule the world. I can already tell there will be come ‘copy-cat’ books coming soon.

Another thing I loved about this book was the awesome graphics and how the words aren’t always just in perfect lines on the page. That must sound super weird, but let me try to explain. Sometimes the words reflect what’s going on. If someone is floating through space, the words will curve around the page, white letters against a black page. Sometimes there’s almost an illustration, made entirely of a word in different shades of black. Sometimes there’s even diagrams of starships. This book is completely insane – I love it! I can’t believe the publishers let them have pages of black ink. Sometimes there was only one word typed in white on the page. No wonder this book smells funny. Do you think it’s all the extra ink? Anyway, I know if I was printing that book from home, that would cost me a lot of money in ink. I’m sure publishers get discounts, though. And imagine having to type all that out to make sure everything was sitting perfectly on the page! I would not have the patience for that. Kudos to you, Allen & Unwin!

However, there was as aspect about the writing style in this novel that I didn’t like, or rather, found confusing. I found it a little hard to get into initially and I would have really appreciated some more background information. It took me quite a while to actually understand what was going on and to form a close bond with some of the characters. Because I knew nothing about the protagonists or the planet, I couldn’t feel for them and I honestly didn’t care about what was going on. Sometimes reading all those emails and ‘Unipedia’ pages were a bit tedious after a while. I found myself wanting to skim them to get back to Kady and Ezra. To be honest, I don’t think I would have missed much if I hadn’t read them. Oh, and side note, this book does a lot of blacking out of swear words. Like, all the time. This also got a bit annoying after a while, but it didn’t really disjoint my reading of this book because supplementing swear words for the black boxes was quite easy for me. Just a heads up to brush up on your swear words! You might want to swear at this book after a while as well…

Honestly, I can’t say I knew the characters all that well. I enjoyed the messages shared between Kady and Ezra, but I never felt like I knew them completely. They were enjoyable enough to read about, I suppose, but nothing about them really stood out. It’s disappointing to say that I only felt emotional twice when reading this book. Normally when I read, I experience everything from laughing to cringing for the characters and slamming my book down, and even crying so much for so long that the ink gets slightly smudged and my fingertips get wet from wiping my tears and then my book starts crinkling like it does when it gets damp and then I literally have to take a break before my book becomes irreparably waterlogged. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience much of that in this book. I think the most dramatic feeling I had when reading this book was shock. And there was a very shocking moment in this book, I have to tell you. I could not believe it. I still don’t trust authors after that. Can I ever forgive the wonderful authors of Illuminae for toying with my emotions? Maybe if they write another book together I’ll forgive them… As long as it’s not a sequel to Illuminae. I did love Illuminae, just not enough to read a sequel to it. I’m sorry.

All in all, I think I may have expected too much from this book. If you’re considering reading this, please don’t presume this book will be the best book you’ve ever read. You’re allowed to read it and love it, or read it and hate it. Personally, I liked quite a lot of this book while I also disliked other aspects. Message of the day: don’t get pressured into liking things, peoples! I’d recommend reading this book if you’re a fan of books set on other planets and are looking for something unique to read. Just keep in mind that the pacing isn’t very fast and you might have trouble connecting with the characters initially. Overall, I found reading Illuminae fairly enjoyable and I’d give it a score of 7 out of 10. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Have you read Illuminae yet? Are you planning to? Do you agree or disagree with what I discussed? Let me know!

Their Fractured Light – book review

Their Fractured Light

Their Fractured Light is the thrilling conclusion to the Starbound trilogy, written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

A year ago, Flynn Corman and Jubilee Chase made the now infamous Avon Broadcast, calling on the galaxy to witness for their planet, and protect them from destruction. Some say Flynn’s a madman, others whisper about conspiracies. No one knows the truth. A year before that, Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux were rescued from a terrible shipwreck. Now, they live a public life in front of the cameras, and a secret life away from the world’s gaze.

Now, in the centre of the universe on the planet of Cornith, all four are about to collide with two new players, who will bring about the end to LaRoux Industries. Gideon Marchant is an eighteen-year-old computer hacker who can worm his way past the best security measures to pull off hacks that others wouldn’t dare attempt. And then there’s Sofia Quinn – a girl with a killer smile who can have you offering up anything she desires, whenever she wants it. She also holds LaRoax Industries responsible for the mysterious death of her father and is out for revenge at any cost.

When a LaRoux Industries security breach interrupts Gideon and Sofia’s separate attempts to infiltrate their headquaters, their only chance at escaping is to work together. Each of them has their own reason for wanting to take down LaRoux Industries, and neither trusts the other. But working together might be the best chance the have to expose the secrets LRI is so desperate to hide.

*

It felt so bittersweet to read the last book in the beautiful Starbound trilogy. It’s crazy to think that there was a time when I was reading the blurb of this book, wondering whether or not I’d fall in love with this series. I more than fell in love with it, if that’s even possible. I laughed, I cried, I fangirled… and fangirled some more… and some more… and some more… I feel like this series took me on a journey, and I’m sad that it’s finally over. Finishing this series feels like coming home from an adventure – you’re sad that you’re no longer away from home, but you’re thankful for all of the amazing memories you have from it and you dream about the day you’ll embark on another adventure. In relation to this series and Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, I sincerely hope that they write another series together.

One of the things that I loved most about this series was how well Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner wrote together. Sometimes it’s obvious that two writers wrote a book together because the writing style can sound a little mismatched sometimes, like trying to use an iPhone app on an iPad – it’ll still work, but it won’t be the same and it won’t look as nice. I went to YA Matters in Melbourne a little while ago, which was a book seminar about YA fiction, and was lucky enough to hear Amie Kaufman speak and actually get to meet her. If I’m correct, I recall her saying that her and Meagan wrote the alternating chapters – Amie wrote the ones belonging to the guys. I thought that was a brilliant idea because it allowed the inner monologue of characters to be just slightly different, however there wasn’t overly drastic jumps from character to character in the way the book was written. I just felt like this series flowed perfectly and I really hope these two brilliant authors release another book soon!

Another thing that I simply adore about this series is that each book has different protagonists. For example, in These Broken Stars we had Lilac and Tarver, in This Shattered World we had Jubilee and Flynn, and now, in This Fractured World, we had Sofia and Gideon. Honestly, I can’t imagine how Amie and Meagan always manage to create such swoon-worthy characters every time! I think that my favourite couple will always be Lilac and Tarver just because they were the first, but spending time with Sofia and Gideon in this book was wonderful too. But just when I thought things couldn’t get any better… we get Lilac and Tarver, and Jubilee and Flynn thrown into this book around half-way as well! I loved seeing all of these people get together. I honestly couldn’t stop smiling for about two chapters when they got together simply because I was so happy to see everyone again!

However, when those four characters came back into the mix, I felt as though Sofia and Gideon kind of took the back seat for a while. I would have liked them to play a more active role in the ‘meet-up’, however I felt like the others were dominating the novel at that time. Like, I don’t mind at all because I love the others, however I felt like this was Sofia and Gideon’s book, not the others. They had their chance. This was Sofideon’s time to shine. Yes, I just made up a ship name for Sofia and Gideon. Deal with it.

I honestly held so much love Sofia and Gideon. They were such a cute couple and the hacker/grifter spin on this novel was very fun to experience. These two people had conflicting personalities in a lot of ways, which meant it was absolutely hilarious to watch how things turned out. For example, in one scene Sofia attempted to teach Gideon to dance. Snarky, sarcastic, swoon-worthy Gideon. Not to mention, the chemistry between the two of them felt real and was thoroughly intriguing. What made their romance even more heated was the sense of mistrust between them. Sofia and Gideon felt like they couldn’t fully trust one another for a lot of the book, which was refreshing because there’s an awful lot of books out there where protagonists simply fall into each other’s arms and immediately tell them all their deepest, darkest secrets. In that way, and in many other ways, this book felt incredibly genuine. I couldn’t be more pleased about that.

I guess I would have liked to have seen more romance between Sofia and Gideon though. There was an awful lot of making plans about destroying LaRoux Industries and everything, and all of that kind of blurred together for me. I became confused with what they were all planning to do because there was just so much information being thrown at me. I think some added romance between Sofia and Gideon could have been used to break up what was bordering on an info-dump at some points. But you know where there wasn’t info-dump? In regards to the world-building. I’ve read a lot of books where authors seem to think that they need to tell you everything about their ‘new world’ in the first chapter. Thankfully, this series never did that. This series has just the right amount of information about these new worlds spread throughout the book that you can build a clear picture in your mind, not be overloaded with details and forget them all by chapter nine.

While I’m sad that I’ve finished reading the Starbound series, I’m so thankful for the unforgettable journey I was taken on. This series had me hooked from the beginning and until the very end and I know that the names Lilac and Tarver, Jubilee and Flynn, and Sofia and Gideon will stay with me for a long time. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, I honestly can’t recommend it enough. If you’re into sci-fi romantic thrillers, this series is definitely for you. I’d give Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner a score of 9 out of 10. NOW – I’d love to discuss this with you! Have you read this book? Do you plan on reading it? Does this sound like the kind of series you’d be interested in? Have you ever had a really bad case of info-dump? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

This Shattered World – book review

This Shattered World

This Shattered World is the second thrilling book in The Starbound Trilogy, written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. But they did. And now their lives will never be the same because of it…

Lee is the highly intelligent and incredibly skilful captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists. However, she has her own reasons for wanting the insurgents dead.

Flynn has good reasons for leading the rebellion on Avon. The terraforming corporations made their fortunes by recruiting colonists to make the planet habitable with the promise of a better life for their children, however the colonists live in poverty and are not getting what they had been promised.

Flynn is desperate to get any advantage he can in this brutal war. So when he and Lee cross paths, he does the only thing that makes some sort of sense at the time. He takes her back to his base as prisoner. But when his fellow rebels plan to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, he makes another decision that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together and find themselves caught between the two opposing sides of an unrelenting war.

*

I really enjoyed reading This Shattered World, however I was slightly disappointed to open it and realise we weren’t going to be focussing on Lilac and Tarver anymore. I loved Lilac and Tarver’s story and was desperate for more. Even though they didn’t seem to be in this book, I had hope that all the books in this series would be linked in some way. I was very happy when I found out that these books are in fact linked, and I like the way this is done.

From the very first page, this book was alluring and pulled me into the different world. One of the things I loved most about These Broken Stars was the world-building; I felt like this was done exceptionally well and I could clearly imagine the world the characters lived in. Keeping up with the high standards set in the first book, This Shattered World also had amazing world-building. It was easy to imagine the planet these characters lived on and everything was extremely well described, but never in a boring way. The descriptions were magical and fit in perfectly with the storyline. They were never too heavy or made the story feel clunky. The whole book flowed very smoothly and I found the pacing perfect. There was the perfect balance of action and subtle tension, making it irresistible and impossible to put down.

I loved getting to know the characters in this book. Initially, I didn’t feel very sympathetic towards either Jubilee or Flynn and I couldn’t really connect with them. It took me a while to discover what their aims where and why they were acting the way they were, however this created a sense of mystery and kept me intrigued. I think it was the lack of clarification and back-story in the beginning that made me feel a little distant from the characters. But then again, it isn’t fun to read a whole lot of history from the very first page, which can be quite boring if it isn’t told well. However, the back-story in this book was all very interesting to read about and there isn’t an overload of information. The information was sprinkled delicately and precisely across the whole book. This Shattered World was really addictive and left me satisfied.

As the book progressed, I came to understand both Jubilee and Flynn and I really connected with them. By the end of the book, I was wishing nothing bad would happen to them and that they’d both survive until the end. Whenever they were in a bad situation, my heart would race and I’d be crossing my fingers that they’ve be okay. I love books that make me feel this emotionally invested in characters. I loved watching the relationship between Jubilee and Flynn change and grow. Although I could guess where their relationship was going to go, from reading the first book which had similar romance in it, that didn’t make watching their relationship bloom any less exciting. I loved how Flynn was introduced and how I couldn’t fully trust him at first. Flynn was a very swoon-worthy character and the interaction between him and Jubilee was often unpredictable. This made everything more exciting. I’m guessing that in each of the books in this series, there’s going to be a forbidden star-crossed romance. However clichéd that might sound, the relationship between Flynn and Jubilee never seemed forced or faked and I loved reading every second of it.

Another thing I loved about this book was the plot. I completely loved the idea of these war-torn worlds and how the rebels and the people patriotic to those in charge have to reconcile. There was again an element of the supernatural, which was really intriguing. I loved the idea of the Fury and how some things that were seen suddenly seemed to disappear into thin air. I also loved how the story of LaRoax was intertwined into this book. There were connections made and the reappearance of some much-loved characters from the previous book.

Overall, I completely loved reading This Shattered World. If you’ve read These Broken Stars, I definitely recommend picking up its sequel! This book would suit everyone looking for a futuristic, interstellar book with a supernatural twist! It also kind of reminded me of the Legend series by Marie Lu, so fans of that should definitely give this a go! I’d give This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner a score of 9 out of 10. I’m already looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!

These Broken Stars – book review

These Broken Stars book

Thrilling, suspenseful and awe-inspiring… These Broken Stars is the first fantastic book in The Starbound Trilogy, written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

On board the Icarus, life is grand. The rich aboard live a life of luxury; sipping cocktails and attending parties while the ship orbits the universe. Life for those on board couldn’t be better. Until one night the unthinkable happens: the spaceliner is abruptly pulled from hyperspace and crashes into the nearest planet. No one survives except Lilac LaRoax, the daughter of the richest man in the universe, and Tarver Merendsen, a young war hero.

Stranded on a mysterious and deserted planet, Lilac and Tarver, who appear to have nothing in common, must learn to trust one another in order to survive. The pair treks across the planet in search of either someone or something that can help them send out a call for help. But then Lilac and Tarver begin to feel like tragedy that drew them together was more of a blessing. It’s unlikely that the two of them would be able to have a life together in their own world. They begin to wonder – would they be better off to live a life together on this new planet? Or is whatever’s lurking in the shadows enough to make them choose to escape the planet and return to their old lives?

*

I absolutely loved reading this book. I’ve always been sceptical about reading any sci-fi books because I hate to be disappointed when things don’t seem realistic. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. I was glued to the book from the very beginning and I was engrossed in both the worlds of the Icarus and the planet Lilac and Tarver crash-land on. The world building was fantastic and I felt like I was standing either aboard the Icarus or standing on alien soil along with the pair. I could picture everything so clearly and I felt like I really was there, it felt so realistic. It was beautifully written and I loved the descriptions.

The thing I love the most about this book is the two characters: Lilac and Tarver. Usually when a book revolves around only a couple of people and there isn’t really anyone else in the story, things get a bit dull. But this wasn’t the case in this book. I was really surprised that I never got sick of the pair and how I was always interested in what they had to say. This book was written from two points of view – Tarver’s and Lilac’s. The chapters alternated from each of their point of view. Sometimes this works, other times it doesn’t. In this book, it definitely worked. I loved reading about what both Lilac and Tarver were thinking and I really liked reading from both points of view.

At the beginning of the book, Lilac was a typical rich society girl. She was overprotected by her father and grew up expecting everything to be perfect and to get whatever she wanted all the time. Even though I found Lilac infuriating and a little irritating at first, as the book progressed, I came to like her more. Even though she acted like a bitchy princess and I wanted to hit her at times, she was undeniably smart and could learn to deal with the situation she’s in. She would trek through the forest in her dress and high heels for the sake of pride (and because she was stubborn), but even when she was in pain, she’d never complain or shed a tear, which is something I really admired about her. However, unlike Lilac, I loved Tarver immediately. He is a soldier returned from war as a hero for a brave act, and now he’s an honored guest upon the Icarus. He and Lilac start off as enemies, but they soon come together and learn that they’ll have to trust each other in order to survive everything. I loved how their trust turned into friendship, and then something more. It was a really well-written love between them and I loved reading about their feelings towards each other. Their romance was really sweet and when the plot was a little slow at times, I was always interested in what was happening between them.

The only thing that I can fault about this book is how it doesn’t tell me anything about the background and history of everything. I wanted to know more about why the society is class-segregated and I would have liked to know more of the futuristic technology. At times I found the plot a little slow, but that never meant I was bored because I loved the growing attraction between Lilac and Tarver. Overall, I loved reading These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner and I’d give it a score of 9 out of 10. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!

Thank you to Allen & Unwin Publishers Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!