Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Book Review Club - Illuminae

The Illuminae Files
By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

"First, survive. Then, tell the truth." That's one of the better loglines I've read in a while. And this is one of the better novels I've had the good fortune to read in the YA category in a while.

Basic premise: The morning Kady breaks up with Ezra their colony on the outskirts of the populated section of the universe is attacked and destroyed by a corrupt company. The "marines" of the galaxy beat back the attackers and rescue a handful of survivors. Their main ship, however, takes heavy damage, and it's a race against time to make it to the next outpost before they're attacked and destroyed by the same company. What they don't realize, until it's too late, is that the bioweapon used by the company to attack the outpost goes viral, starting a plague on the fleeing ships. The Artificial Intelligence, which runs the battle cruiser, has also taken heavy damage--mentally--and can't be trusted.

Basically, the odds of survival are stacked against not just Kady and Ezra, but everyone on the fleeing ships. Will anyone survive to tell the tale and bring the offenders to justice? Because, hey, we evil authors can and do kill of main characters all of the time.

Cue mad scientist evil laugh: Bwahahahaha.

Tongue and cheek aside, I haven't enjoyed a read this much in a long time. I had begun to despair that the realistic fiction bandwagon had set up shop, and it was going to be a long time before YA fiction came around to be fun and entertaining again. While this is touted as dystopian, don't let the moniker fool you, or put you off. This is sci fi. Fun sci fi. Edge of your pants sci fi. Star wars YA style. In other words, a breath of fresh air within the angsty teen lit of late.

The story is told mainly from Kady's POV, although using different formats for information sharing, i.e. texts, emails, reports, interviews, etc, does allow the authors to introduce different POVs. Again, breath of fresh air. Admittedly, I'm getting a wee bit tired of the female dominated genre.

While studies may show that mostly women and female teens read YA, that doesn't mean we'd only like to read female POV. Yes, it's AMAZING to have a female heroine. Love it. Love it like chocolate cake. But, if that's all you get, after a while, even chocolate cake gets boring. Please, please, please, if the world of publishing is listening, can we have a few more male POV stories? By that, I don't mean heroes who rescue the damsel in distress, just male POV. That's all. Let's get inside the mind of the male teen. What I wouldn't have given at that age to understand this mysterious anomaly.

For more warm winter brain food, stomp on over to Barrie Summy's website. She's serving them up with a healthy does of California sun!


Sarah Laurence said...

Interesting trend in YA since most adult sci fi is (or maybe was) heavily tilted to men. I was put off by the not another angsty dystopian but your defense of this book would make me take another look.

Bee said...

I'm seeing so much love for this book on Instagram -- or rather, Bookstagram. I'm really glad that you gave it a rave review as it currently sits in the TBR stack by my bed . . . and has just gotten bumped up! I hadn't noticed that POV has skewed female in YA, but I suspect you are right.

Linda McLaughlin said...

Oh, this sounds like fun. I do love a good space opera, and you're right, that's a dynamite log line.

Barrie said...

I'm up for fun! In fact, having more fun is one of 2016 resolutions! So, I'll read this book. Thanks for reviewing!

Bee said...

I didn't realise that Illuminae had already been reviewed! Yes, I would agree with Sarah that sci-fi is generally tilted toward men. I liked it that Kady was the hotshot computer genius. But you are also right that YA is really being dominated by female voices.