Like many of you, I spent some time over the holidays in a galaxy far, far away, swept up in the story of an epic war between rebel forces and an evil empire, a story filled with interstellar strife and futuristic technologies. But I have yet to see the new Star Wars movie; instead, I read the pulsing Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
Illuminae’s lovers, Kady and Ezra, literally are star-crossed, part of a war some five hundred years in the future and light years away. Forced from the relative mundanity of their terrestrial lives on a seemingly insignificant planet, the two are now part of a fleet of spaceships trying to find their way to safety while avoiding destruction in this corporate war. But safety is a complicated concept when AIDAN, the artificial intelligence system that controls the fleet, starts to assert its own sentience, and further complications arise when some of the survivors of the initial attack begin to show strange symptoms. And speaking of complications, did I mention that Kady and Ezra had just broken up before the attack began?
Now the two teens must become allies, using Kady’s hacking skills and Ezra’s fighting abilities to uncover the true motivations of AIDAN, the corporations fighting this war, the mysterious quarantine and those responsible for enforcing it, and their own hearts.
Using an engaging mixture of interview transcripts, lines of computer code, remnants of recovered computer files, onboard messages, and creative typography, Illuminae manages to combine contagion, corporate greed, and classic science fiction tropes into its own winning mixture. This mash-up of genres shouldn’t work, but Illuminae shines, building a world I didn’t want to leave, and one I will readily return to when The Illuminae Files_02 is published.