While I was waiting to get my hands on Obsidio, the last instalment in the Illuminae files series I decided to reread the first novel. It's been two years since I read it for the first time and it was just as amazing as I remembered it. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created an insane ride across the universe. Here are the reasons why you should pick this novel up if you haven't already!

The story starts on the day that Kady breaks up with her boyfriend, Ezra. It was one of the hardest things she has done in her life but that was before her planet, Kerenza IV, is invaded by BeiTech Industry and Kady narrowly escapes to science vessel Hypatia. Ezra is among the few thousand other people who manages to get of Kerenza but ends up on battlecarrier Alexander. Together with Hypatia, the Alexander along with another science vessel, Copernicus, escapes and starts their long journey to Jumpstation Heimdall. The only remaining ship from the assault, the Lincoln, takes chase and without the possibility to escape through a wormhole, the three ships are left with no choice but to run as fast as they can and hope that the Lincoln won’t catch up to them. But what first seems to be the biggest problem, the escape from the Lincoln, soon pales in comparison to what goes on inside the Copernicus.

I could pretty much sit here and talk about this book the entire night. It has everything I could ever want in a book and more. First off, it’s a story set in 2575 involving colonized planets and spacetravel. Second, it’s a sweet love story that does not take over the entire story. Ezra is a big softy with a brave heart always trying to do what’s right. Kady is the sassiest girl south of Sasstown with a big knowledge of coding and hacking which she most often uses for illegal reasons. There’s also a mutating virus turning people into brainless killers spreading on the ships and the battlecarrier’s artificial intelligence (AIDAN) was damaged when the Alexander escaped at Kerenza and now seems to turn against its own fleet. Help is at best six months away and all the while the Lincoln is slowly catching up to them. We are basically talking about explosions, zombie-like killers, an insane computer, explosions, a spacechase, a love story, crazy hacking skills, a big scoop of sass and explosions. Did I mention explosions? It does not get any better than this.

Taking a look at our characters; we have our two main ones in Kady and Ezra and, partially, in AIDAN. Important side characters include general Torrance, a computer guy named Byron Zhang, Ezra’s friends Dorian and McNulty and a few commanders and high ranking military personnel. We get to know Kady closest but since the story isn’t an actual text like regular books but is instead told through a series of classified documents, video surveillance footage and direct messages as well as data recovered from AIDAN, we don’t get to come any closer to Kady than reading her journal at times. You can still feel how angry and sad she is though, how she fights with everyone but herself most of all. How she puts all her energy and effort into finding the truth instead of letting herself break apart. She’s hardcore, a real badass and a sassy one at that. She makes extreme sacrifices, knowing what she has to give up to save strangers and when she’s forced to kill someone, even though it’s a crazy lunatic who tried to murder her, she makes the choice of not killing again because she knows that that’s what truly breaks you apart. She’s hard on the outside but deep down has a soft heart and she’s absolutely perfect to carry the heavier load on this novel. Ezra, on the other side, seems like a tough guy when you look at him but it doesn’t take many pages to figure out that he’s a sweetheart. While Kady is not working on the Hypatia, Ezra is conscripted into the military aboard the Alexander as a fighter pilot. Despite Kady saying she would never talk to him after they broke up they're left with no choice but to work together across the two spaceships to unravel the truth.

Kady and Ezra brings the story forward but there wouldn’t even be a story without AIDAN. AIDAN is nothing but statistics, facts and, as one character in the book says, a big calculator, but when reading through the data from AIDAN it becomes clear that the machine actually has feelings. This in itself creates a very interesting side-story and while AIDAN seems to be a crazy computer trying to kill everyone and everything, I actually have a soft spot for it and found myself not only understanding it but also caring for it. I think that AIDAN was one of the best and most interesting things Kaufman and Kristoff could’ve put in the book.

Since this is not an actually story with chapters but instead told through documents and interviews, the feeling of reading Illuminae is quite different. It’s an unusual way of telling a story but I really liked it and it with a lot of added details in style and layout, writing the novel this way brought a new depth to the story. The artwork, the cover as well as the inside of the book, was amazing. Black fingerprints on papers along with blood and coffee stains were among the details that made the layout even more believing. The direct conversations between Kady, Ezra and their friends was written in slang with various amount of smileys and typos, which again only added to the feeling of it all being real. I was amazed at how much feeling could be conveyed through documents in this way, rather than through the eyes of characters.

The ride you take when you start reading this book is something out of the ordinary. There are only a few books that I've taken to my heart as fast as this one. It’s an incredible adventure, one I definitely think you should take. It has something for everyone and it’ll leave you breathless and longing for more. Illuminae is a masterpiece, you won’t regret reading it.