26 November 2015

Illuminae

Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #1
Rating: 2 / 5 stars
Verdict: Bury

Let me just start off by saying that perhaps I have become a little too jaded when it comes to young adult sci-fi novels that take place in the final frontier.  I keep hoping I am going to find one that blows my socks off, but time and time again they turn out to be total duds.  This novel is no exception.

 This book could have been great if the writers had focused on the plot of the story instead of the messing romance between Kady and Ezra.  First of all, since this novel is told in "report" form (I am going to use that term loosely, and explain why in a little bit), you really don't get a sense for the characters.  Sure, they are both a little self sacrificing, which could have drawn me to them if it weren't for the fact that they are so annoying.  This characteristic trait seems to overshadow all others, and even from the start I cannot get over the fact that the world is literally falling to pieces around them as they illegal settlement is being bombed to hell, and yet they are fighting over breaking up?  Um, are you kidding me?  That would be the furthest thing from my mind at that particular moment in time.  Unfortunately, this trait does not get better as the story limps along for 599 pages of supremely terrible dialogue between the two.

Then there is the little issue of the self aware AI in this book.  Even if I could suspend disbelief and hop around this cliched sci-fi train, I am not at all impressed with AIDAN.  For one, the descriptions that the authors use, not doubt to try to add color into what should be monotone reports of the AI's central core, are laughable in the fact that, among other things, the AI has wit, employs sarcasm, and uses descriptive poetry.  Most of the reports included in the book follow along this same course, including description and verbatim dialogue that would never be necessary in a formal report.  I think what bugs me the most, however, is how even the adults in this novel sounds like sniveling teenagers.  The dialogue is so dumbed down and unprofessional that parts of it are hard to stomach.  And the IM conversations between Kady and Ezra, Ezra and James (whose name and personality were stolen from The Wire), and Kady and the other hacker are so unbearable that I began to skim read them.  Not only are the constant "I'm banging your sister" jokes not only not funny but annoying, but the current day style of text "formatting" with abbreviated words and zero punctuation made me want to punk someone.

There are a few things I like about this novel.  While certainly not all, some of the styling in this book are quite eloquent (I particularly like the pages where images are made out of a character's name).  I also really enjoyed the fundamental plot of the novel, even if the execution at the end is poor.  I have to give the authors kudos for the originality of the format, but unfortunately it isn't enough to carry the story, especially coupled with the poor formulation.  I think this plot would have been much better served as a new adult or adult fiction novel where you did not have to deal with the insufferable characters and dumbed down language.

As for the ending, let's not even going there.  I am highly disappointed with it.  I realize the authors wanted to set up the ending for the next installment in the series, but this novel could have been much better suited as a stand alone with a much more satisfactory and realistic ending.

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