nut free nerd

thoughts of a nut allergic book lover

ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


“Miracles are statistical improbabilities. And fate is an illusion humanity uses to comfort itself in the dark. There are no absolutes in life, save death.”

As soon as I saw Illuminae on a shelf in the library I couldn’t resist immediately picking it up. The physical design of this book deserves a thunderous round of applause in itself. Its bright colors, slight shimmer, and layered appearance combine to create quite an eye-catching ensemble. Of course, all of the recent hype surrounding this book certainly made me more likely to pick it up off the shelf and give it more than a quick second glance. At first I was hesitant to read this book because its plethora of positive reviews had significantly raised my expectations; however, now that I’ve read it I can confidently say that Illuminae surely lives up to its praise!

Kaufman and Kristoff wrote this story in such a unique way that it’s almost difficult to accurately explain. The novel is more of a compilation than anything else– of interview transcripts, conversations via instant messaging, official documents, and even graphics. There are very few pages solely of solid text, making this novel of nearly six hundred pages feel like it has half that many. It also helps that the story is action-packed, fast-paced, and exciting from the very beginning. A lot of information is thrown at the reader all at once, which is simultaneously beneficial and detrimental to understanding the story. While being given large amounts of information at certain times is a necessary part of world-building and helps move the plot along, it can also be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many new names to learn, not only of characters but of ships and places and technology as well, that it’s quite easy to get lost. However, even with this seeming abundance of information I still felt as though I didn’t have the answers to all of my questions. I found this frustrating contradiction to be true for the majority of the novel, and the confusion it brought is my only major complaint.

Well, I do have another complaint, but I think it’s more of a nit-picky detail than a definite issue. In the beginning of Illuminae– maybe even on the first page– it mentions that all swear words will be censored from the novel. As the story progresses it’s soon obvious that the swear words are not simply left out or substituted with a different word; rather, they are replaced with a solid black rectangle. From the context of the story it’s clear what word is being censored, which brings me to my other complaint: Why go through all of the trouble of censoring in the first place? Personally, I think that the swear words should have been completely included or not mentioned at all. In this particular case, I feel as though they should have been used. If I can read about people killing each other and dying in numerous terrifying and dreadful ways, then I can certainly handle reading swear words!

Other than these two critiques, I was incredibly impressed by this novel. It is honestly one of the most creepy books I have ever read, to the point where I even questioned whether or not I should read it before going to bed. The mystery behind what is actually happening on the spaceships is the key to the novel’s suspenseful and frightening nature because the reader is never quite sure about what will happen next. My initial impression of what this book would be about– space travel, maybe aliens?– was completely wrong. There are so many different layers to this story that all have their own twist, meaning that the reader is bound to be surprised eventually. If it’s not the first twist that makes your head spin, it will be the next one, or the next one, or the next one– right up until the very last page!

One aspect of the novel that I wasn’t expecting to appreciate as much is the refreshing authenticity of Kady and Ezra’s relationship. The story begins at an interesting point in their relationship (Kady has just broken up with Ezra) and it continues in a reasonable direction from then on. One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to fictional romantic relationships is when they feel unnatural and forced. Fortunately, Kady and Ezra don’t exude those feelings.

Overall, Illuminae is an exciting, addicting, intriguing, and surprising novel that I will not soon forget. Don’t let the hype scare you away– this novel definitely lives up to its praise! I can’t wait for this series to be continued in the future!

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.

Would I recommend it to a friend?: YES! Especially if they’re fans of young adult fiction or science fiction in general.

Have you ever read this book before? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!




13 responses to “ILLUMINAE by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff”

  1. Great review! Personally I had mixed feelings about this one. I wanted to like it more, but it didn’t blow me away the way I’d hoped it would. The format was really interesting and visually appealing, but it made it really hard for me to follow the story. And I wasn’t really invested in the plot until maybe the last 200 pages or so. I enjoyed the last chunk of it, though––I thought the parts in AIDAN’s point of view were really great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was the same way, for me the confusing bits in the beginning bothered me throughout the entire novel, but AIDEN wasy favorite character and those parts kept me going.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. AIDEN was a fantastic character, which is really interesting since it’s (he/she?) isn’t even a person really at all…. but it felt like a person towards the end, so does that make it more human??? So many questions!!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I can definitely see how the format could slow down the story in a way– it took a while to get used to the way it was written, especially since it flip-flopped between the different formats so often. And you’re definitely right about the last part of the book picking up a lot from the rest of it. I’m interested to see if the sequel is better or worse, but I guess only time will tell!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m also curious what the sequel will be like! As of now I don’t feel super compelled to read it, but I might give it a try if I hear really good things about it. 🙂


  2. I’m glad Illuminae impressed you! It sounds gorgeous (not just because of the cover but because of the premise) and I’m so curious about it! Will keep my eyes peeled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would definitely recommend giving it a try if it intrigues you. It’s one of those books that really sucks you in once you make some progress reading it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great book! Especially for people like me, who aren’t sure whether they like SciFi yet or not – the layouts and formatting is just SO interesting 😀 I’m glad you enjoyed it just as much as I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The experimental formatting really made the book shine for me, and it makes me wonder if it will start a trend of unique formatting with other books in the future. There’s so much potential! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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  7. […] remember finishing Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff and immediately wanting to read a sequel. The ending was way more intense and fast-paced than […]


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About ME, Holly

former english major, current twenty-something book lover, allergic to nuts. drop me a line at or on instagram.


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