REVIEW: Illuminae // disappointing sci-fi but EXPLODING SHIPS (in both ways)

In a sad turn of events, I didn’t love Illuminae as much as I’d hoped. 



I wanted to fall head over heels for this book, I wanted to hug and cradle and it to be an amazing read but it ended up falling short for me and just me being a disappointed grape. *sigh* Anyways more about what I thought about this book in the actual review.

I ordered this book off Amazon and then the next day I found it in the library. I was torn as to what to do. Should I cancel the order or keep it? After some advice, I decided on keeping because I thought I was going to love it (also illustrations…YAS) but then…I didn’t LOVE it. I don’t even know WHAT TO THINK??? Like I had REALLY high expectations for this book, guys. I was expecting everything just to be mind-blowing and feels crushing and…

Did I get that? Well yes… I SHIPPED THE SHIP SO HARD… but I feel this completely lacked in all the sci-fi elements. Don’t get me wrong, IT WAs A SCI-FI. But i feel it was all very surface level sci-fi.  We never got into the nitty gritty details of the disease, how exactly it was spreading, HOW it was mutating, HOW they were finding the cure to it previously? LIKE?? I mean that plot line HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL and yet we just got a list of symptoms and people who went crazy (reminded me of the Cranks from The Maze Runner…anyone else?)

It was more a love story disguised a sci-fi and all the science elements are more ‘CONTEXT’ and ‘SETTING UP’ the meeting of Kady and Ezra and AIDAN. Nothing that wasn’t needed to develop the characters wasn’t included. Like the disease and Lincoln. They had to be THERE to create problems for the ship but not for the actual plot, or details. LIKE I SHIPPED IT but I wish the romance was more ‘on the side?? I hope this makes sense; What I am trying to say that the romance was more developed than the sci-fi. As in some elements of the science was confusing.  

I was also kind of confused about the Lincoln. I wanted more EXPLANATION to why it was attacking everyone. Like it just seemed like this vague thing in the background that everyone was scared of. Honestly, it was just adding another problem to the load and that whole plot wasn’t really developed.


I also think the world could’ve been better built. I sometimes confused about what was going with all the Hypatia and Alexander and things but it was jaggedly explained throughout the book. I guess because of the formatting it was difficult to explain the world smoothly. I appreciate books that don’t spell everything out for you but a little more guidance near the beginning would have been appreciated.

It took me at least 250 pages TO REALLY GET GOING.  two hundred and fifty pages? TO GET GOING? That’s kind of a lot for me but considering it was 600 pages and the beginning was still easy to read, I think I’ll let that slip.


Also, can I just say I felt that ending was really anti-climatic? That might be because it was spoiled for me, but either way, I didn’t…think it was enough. I wanted FEELS BURSTING AND OMG ASDFGHJKL but because of the way it was told, that wasn’t done very well. The again maybe because it was spoiled for me so I KNEW what was going to happen.

The strong point of this book HAS TO BE THE CHARACTERS. They have amazing character arcs, super funny and you totally care about them and are 100% invested.

Oh AIDAN is by far my favourite. Smol robots who discover they have feelings – YES, this is my life thank you. He was developed wonderfully and treasured all the chapters we got to see everything from his point of view. And somehow I related to him? So this shows I really am a robot.

Kady is one awesome girl. She has pink hair, is amazing at hacking and I LOVED WHEN SHE HAD FEELINGS because she was rare to show them. AND JUST KADY!! I really really enjoyed her diary and her character in general. Also very witty and sarcastic WHICH ALWAYS WINS ME OVER.

Ezra is HILARIOUS! I really wish we got more of him, to be honest. At the beginning, we had his jokes in those interviews and we had them dotted around the book too, but I wanted more of those scenes where I chuckled quietly to myself. He’s such a cool guy, to be honest; i mean he sends these little illustrations full of words to Kady and OKAY BE STILL MY BEATING HEART.

“you deserve every star in the galaxy laid out at your feet and a thousand diamonds in your hair. You deserve someone who’ll run with you as far and as fast as you want to. Holding your hand not holding you back”



The illustrations and formatting are great! I’m a sucker for unique books and this book got that spot on. With interviews, diary entries, medical reports, online conversations, documents, it was a super fun way to get to know the characters and tell a story. Maybe in another author’s hands, this would’ve been a mess or disaster but these two authors did it so well. *beams* I am happy.

The last half of the book was what really got all those stars. it was dramatic and gripping and everything else people say this book is. Also, there was like this battle with exploding ships and YES FOR THE ACTION HERE. But that’s mostly because AIDAN was telling the story and did I mention I love AIDAN? No. I love AIDAN.


Maybe it was because I had read a spoiler before or maybe because I set the stakes too high, but not at one point was I on the edge of my seat or close to tears or my heart was pounding or was I sweating or what not. It had FEELS but it didn’t HIT ME WITH THEM. And I really wanted that. But I didn’t get it. To be honest I was just a bit let down with the sci-fi story. THERE WAS A LOT OF THE SCIENCE FICTION IN THIS but it all felt so surface-level. It was clever and I WILL REMEMBER THIS STORY, but it fell a little short in places, sadly.




Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
Title: Illuminae
Author(s):  Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series: (The Illuminae Files, #1) 

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again. (GOODREADS)

Illuminae #2

Let's Whisper

Do you like sci-fi novels? What are some of your favourites? And tell me some of your EXPLODING SHIPS! Have you read Illuminae – you probably loved it, right? Are you planning on reading Illuminae – you should! It was still great but not entirely for me, I guess. Ilsa - Edited


41 thoughts on “REVIEW: Illuminae // disappointing sci-fi but EXPLODING SHIPS (in both ways)”

  1. Hey! Um, sorry this comment isn’t really related to your post… but Jasmine from It’s Simply Me, Jasmine told me that you made some graphics for her blog and I was wondering if you could help me out?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. *anxiously reads the review because I’m reading this book at the moment and I have high hopes* Welp…I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it as much as you thought you would. That’s always dissapointing.
    I’m about 100 pages in and the sci-fi is actually too much 😂. But than again ANY sci-fi for me is TOO MUCH sci-fi. Dragons I can do. Giant ships? That’s where my brain goes nope, packs it’s bags and leaves on holiday in the Bahamas.
    I hopeee I end up loving the end part? I haven’t been spoiled for anything yet so I shall see how I feel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. THERE IS A LOT OF SCI-FI!!! What I am saying is the sci-fi IS NOT DEVELOPED enough. As in it can be confusing. Hopefully, no one spoils ANYTHING FOR YOu otherwise the ending will be anti-climatic! I am super sad this was disappointing too! Hopefully, you will enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah *nods approvingly*. I just finished it and I get what you mean about the sci-fi. IT WAS VERY CONFUSING and UNEXPLAINED. However I did end up liking it (it was a happy combination of low expetations and not being spoiled 😂).
        I am sad the hype didn’t live up to it for you though 😦 !

        Liked by 1 person

  3. God I love this book so I’m sad you didn’t like it, but I understand!! I actually don’t remember if it was super sci-fi for me (I think it was imo) but I get how not a lot of backstory was revealed. I do think more of that is revealed in Gemina??? And I think more things will be revealed in Obsidio (THEY BETTER). AND DUUUUDE IT WAS ANTICLIMATIC FOR YOU BECAUSE OF THE FRICKING SPOILER YOU READ OMGGGGGGGGG. But yes, I agree — the characters (and the hilarity) were DEFINITELY the strong points of the novel! And when you read Gemina, you’ll get to meet Ella who is LEGIT THE BEST. Great review!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TRUST ME MAY! I am very sad too that i didn’t LOVE this book! It was still enjoyable though!! I think I’ll read the next books then? But probably like next year..hehe XD I do want to read about the new characters like Ella because she sounds amazing but i am not that excited for them? I KNOW I HATE THAT I WAS SPOIILLLLEEDDDDD!

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  4. I agree with the sci-fi, I wish it was more fleshed out and unique and the Lincoln! Why was it attacking? It was so obsessed with destroying everything for NO reason. Like WHY?
    I think the end was the best part (but I can totally see how having it spoiled would kind of make the whole thing anti-climatic). Thanks for the Review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I WAS SO CONFUSED to why the Lincoln was attacking? It was just like this vague enemy? i think they maybe wrote a sentence why it was killing everyone but I probably glossed over it. I AM THE CONFUSED. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I would have loved the ending if it hadn’t been spoiled for me BUT IT WAS SO I AM SAD.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve heard so many great reviews of the book, I’m actually quite surprised you didn’t like it! I’ve been meaning to get to it, but I’m just not in the mood for sci-fi, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely review! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love that one as much as everyone else. I really enjoyed reading it and I shipped Ezra and Cady so, so much, and for the small reader of sci-fi that I am, I appreciated that romance part so much ahah. I hope you’ll still read Gemina, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ilsa… I LOVE the photos that went with this review… I read the book digitally so yeah difficult! I took about that long (250) to get into the book too… there is this distance between the reader and the actual events of the story in the beginning. I rated it higher because AIDEN! Yup he is genuinely the favorite for everyone I think?! You put your thoughts down SO WELL!! I could relate, really… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 🔥 I’m on fire, lol!! BUT really I do love your photography black and whites that you have been including… (especially in this post, your skills are hitting their stride.) they fit the subtle graphics of your whisper brand… it’s always tempting to keep to color (like me!) so I find it refreshing and fitting!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This has just reminded me to read Illuminae again! I was intending to but I picked up The Hate U Give ( which I’ve almost finished and I’m absolutely LOVING TO DEATH AHHH ) but I’ll be giving Illuminae another go soon😊 Although I didn’t finish it all the first time, I adored Adian as well, like you said, what’s not to love?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aw, it’s too bad that you didn’t enjoy this book as much as you wanted to!! But I can relate, it’s sometimes hard for your expectations to live up to super-hyped stories like Illuminae. plus like you said, it’s got all those supercool pictures. I haven’t read it yet either, and my expectations are also sky-high, so here’s to hoping that it’ll blow me out of the water :’)

    also, THAT QUOTE THOUGH. *sways dramatically* WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DECLARATION OF LOVE. I think I just swooned.


  10. I swear EVERYONE I have come across with has LOOVVEEDD this book so I was kinda surprised when you said it fell short of your expectations. But I can relate. I mean, if you felt the world-building wasn’t done appropriately, it must’ve been QUITE a disappointment, right, since apart from the characters A GOOD portion of books, especially fantasy and sci-fi, depends on the world they are taking place.
    For the characters, I HAVE TO agree with you, even though I haven’t read this one, that character development is Jay Kristoff’s strong point. That much I witnessed in Nevernight. BOY, DID THAT BOOK BLOW AWAY MY MIND!!!!
    And the illustrations look soooooooo PRETTY!! 😍😍😍
    Oh, well, I have read a good many not-so-great books solely because of their appearance. 😉 Wouldn’t be that bad if I read this one too, I guess. And then, you DID say that the second half of the book gets really exciting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. EVERYONE DID LOVE IT…apart from me. #sadface.
      World building IS QUITE IMPORTANT FOR ME! While I think characters are MOST IMPORTANT if it’s sci-fi or fantasy you need to explain VERY CLEARLY what is going on otherwise I will remain a deluded pineapple.
      AGHHHH, I really need to read NeverNight! I’ve heard SUCH AMAZING things about it!! SO I AM VERY EXCITED to read it. I think you should read bc it DOES GET EXCITING.


      Liked by 1 person

  11. Sorry to hear you didn’t love this one as much as you had hoped! I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve meant to read it ever since it started to get hyped haha. I’m still planning on it, since I’m really curious (and it’s gorgeous) Good to hear that the characters are the strong point, since characters can really make or break a book for me 🙂 Great review!


  12. Awww it’s such a shame that you didn’t like Illuminae as much as a lot of us do! I adore it because of A.I.D.A.N. and the unique formatting, but I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, so maybe I enjoyed it BECAUSE the sci-fi was less developed?

    I had some trouble with the lack of feels as well, but if I’m honest it didn’t bother me too much – each to their own, I guess. If you’re willing to read it, though, Gemina is a LOT more feelsy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ending WAS spoiled for me so I guess I the feels weren’t there for me. I DO WANT THE FEELS. I think a lot of people LOVED Illuminae because they don’t read a lot of sci-fi so they don’t really expect the sci-fi elements to be developed. I have read other sci-fi’s so I could tell and notice that this wasn’t up to scratch.

      AIDAN WAS AMAZING! And i really liked the unqiue formatting. I ENJOYED THE BOOK but didn’t live up to the hype 😦



    I've really become bitter after seeing glowing review after glowing review of this series for some reason. Like… what is everyone else seeing that I'm just not??! Am I defective in some way?

    I thought Illuminae was just alright. I thought it was fun, but for the most part I thought it was a little ridiculous. But I enjoyed the ending, which made me decide to pick up Gemina.

    ^^' Bad idea. It was even more ridiculous than the first one and literally repeated the SAME. PLOT. LINE. as its predecessor. Hot badass girl falls for charming bad boy and together they save the day. YAWN! 🙄

    I finally feel validated that these books just really aren't all that great now that I've finally seen someone who agrees with me! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Seriously!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG someone else who didn’t like it as much as me? Miracle right her peeps.

      YES. For a while i felt left out. LITERALLY Every Single PErson failed to mention THAT THIS BOOK WASN’t Perfect.

      I enjoyed it!! I think it was somewhat GOOD!! But it did NOT live up to the hype and really all that love for this book? I cannot see why tbh.

      Same plot. UUgghh! I LOVED THE SHIP but again? I am having second thoughts about reading it. BUT AIDAN is what I am here for.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yea, if you’re curious then definitely read it. It was fun, but it really was just a repeat of what happened in the first book except with a different ship sailing. So I wasn’t at all impressed and I definitely won’t be reading the next book in the series. The hype failed me in this instance!


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