This is the first book in a series called "The Illuminae Files". And "Files" is accurate. This tells a story entirely through footage, like emails, and descriptions from video feed, and interviews and blogs. And you see, there's this company called BeiTech that becomes so corrupted, that a rebellion attempts to take them down, and the year is 2575, a time where there's not only no more books, no one knows what a book is. Nightmare for me. But anyway, there are two teenagers named Kady Heron and Ezra Mason, a former couple who are forced to flee the Earth the day they broke up when some people find proof of BeiTech. And everyone is piled onto three ships: Alexandria, Hypatia, and Copernicus. But there's a war ship called the Lincoln that is after them, and there's nowhere to run; they're in space. And now we have a sci-fi thriller that is one below 600 pages!
Now, reading long books can sometimes be a hassle for me, but I almost never DNF books. I've only DNF'd, like, four books in my entire reviewing career. So I was scared to pick up this one because not only is it 599 pages, but it displays it loud and clear on every page. The page markers all say "Number"/599. If you pick this book up, do your best to avoid that. And despite the praise I'd heard from this book, I was actually all set to rate it 0 stars, especially during the first few pages. In the first few pages are pages of some Wikipedia son in an attempt to describe the setting. But it's too early in for us to want it there and too long and annoying for us to want to hone the information. And I was worried that if the rest of the book was going to be like that, I was in for a big critical pan. But it turns out, the rest of the book isn't like that first encyclopedia page. It really isn't. And that's what's beneficial about keeping an open mind and not DNF'ing.
I mean, the book isn't perfect after that. There's an instance when a footage interpreter says Kady is looking through some wires with her rear sticking out which isn't too bad a view. I cringed. I'm sure some will find that funny, but I found the situation was too serious for that kind of humour. And sometimes I had to turn back a few pages to see who was actually saying what. But you know something? Despite being 599 pages, this book is full of pictures and even some partially blank pages that make it so flipping through the book is not arduous. For example, there are pages that tell countdowns and update on numbers, and during the basic text messages, skimming through them and guessing what was supposed to be said whenever there's a type of markout (you'll see what I mean when you read the book), I actually chuckled a little bit.
Also, at first none of the characters except Kady and Ezra interested me, but then there were a few I began paying attention to. And eventually I got used to this story being told through all files: with all the blogs and intercepts, it ends up being a story that can be told this way. And I won't spoil what happens during the last 150 pages, but, even if it wasn't perfect, I couldn't put the book down and within these pages, there's a storytelling twist that actually takes advantage of being told through files by surprising us and tearing us up a little bit. There's even a moment where I went, "Okay. That leaves some questions and is a little suspicious, but phew."
Illuminae manages to try out a new formula for storytelling that's never been done before, probably because most bookgoers would find the idea ridiculous and annoying (the story is completely told through files and recovered footage and network stuff, and the page count says out of 599 for each one, which can sometimes be condescending and distracting) and yet Illuminae manages to succeed. Not to mention the book had to have taken a long time to craft. Even the cover combined with the dust jacket is stirring. Illuminae is kind of more like an art project than an actual novel. I applaud Knopf Publishing for taking the measures they had to have taken to put this book together. Not to mention there's a fictional and intentionally cheesy movie cover with Marie Lu's name snuck into the credits.
I'm going to read the next one.