"Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza--but who knows what they'll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady's cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza's ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys--an old flame from Asha's past--reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heros will fall, and hearts will be broken." - Goodreads
Too often in book trilogies, you run into situations where the first book is fantastic, the second book feels like a filler, and the conclusion is good, but doesn’t really live up to the standard of the story’s start.
The Illuminae Files, in my very humble and fangirl-y opinion, does not suffer from this. It starts off with a fantastically unique and engaging premise (though the whole collecting of dossiers, chat logs, video transcripts, etc. isn’t for everyone), and, like Barney Stinson’s "get psyched" mix, it's all rise baby!
And what a conclusion. All the character arcs and story threads from the first two books come together, with the addition of new characters and integrated storylines that help fill out the events that have occurred since Book 1, without detracting from character development or action. The story remains fast paced, tense. There is romance and humour, death and diversity (race, religion, sexuality, you name it), without any of it feeling overbearing. But, even amongst stars and spaceships and wormholes and war, we always return to the unavoidable truth that no matter where you are in the universe or however many horrors you’ve witnessed, there is nothing more terrifying or unpredictable than frightened human beings just trying to do what they think is best. For the greater good.
Character development was also fantastically on point, with each of the “main” characters lending their own strengths leading up to the epic end. Also. AIDAN, my favourite homicidal Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network. Somehow The authors managed to have an AI develop as a character. And I absolutely loved it.
Full disclosure, ever since listening to Book 1 on audio, I haven’t been able to read the series without also listening to the amazing full-cast audio production. Sometimes it’s a simultaneous occurrence, sometimes I alternate (making sure to flip back if I’ve listened, so I can catch any illustrations or unique layouts), but the two go hand in hand, and part of AIDAN’s brilliance, I think, is owed to his voice actor.
I wish I could take a picture of all my favourite visuals, but part of the fun, for lack of a better word, of the book is experiencing it visually too, so I will curb that strong urge.
Anyway. I know there’s a lot of hype surrounding this book and it’s predecessors without my input but, I am not ashamed to say that I’m all for the hype. I will be a hype man, loud and proud because Kristoff and Kaufman did something brilliant with this series, and I actually don’t remember the last time I was this excited for a book to come out.
This series won’t be for everyone, but I still recommend everyone at least give it a try, especially if you like sci-fi. It’s more than worth it.
(Some) Memorable Quotes:
“I am not good. Nor am I evil. I am no hero. Nor am I villain. I am Aidan."
"But imagine what life would be like if it only gave us what we asked for. Wouldn't that be grand?"
“Who knew their greatest test would be figuring out who's on the right and wrong sides of an argument about their fate? Who knew the worst they'd face would be at the hands of other people?"
"Of all the things I have seen and the places I have been, you were the one who felt most like home."
If anyone has read The Illuminae Files, let us know what you think in the comments below! Comments also open to further book/movie/show recommendations, anything you’d like to see reviewed, or general feedback. We’d love to hear what you have to say!