ILLUMINAE | OVERHYPED, DNF REVIEW

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset‘Illuminae’ by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kaufman, published by Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015, no rating – thanks to the publisher Politken for giving me the Danish edition of this book!

Illuminae is a very popular and hyped book with a 4.32 rating on Goodreads. I can both completely understand why and then again not at all. I ended up DNF’ing it after I reached page 232.

This story takes place in 2575 and follows Ezra and Kady as their planet is invaded. Ezra and Kady end up on two different spaceships and struggle to keep contact with each other while trying to find out what the war about their planet is all about.

I think the plot from that description sounds extremely cool, and it definitely lives up to that. This whole book is the definition of cool, maybe just a little bit too cool.

Illuminae has become very known for its cool mixed media, but that was sadly what completely ruined the book for me. This book is told through hacked documents, emails, interviews and a lot more. It needs to be underlined that is also the only way this story is told. I started out with a very positive mindset around it, but I honestly ended up really hating it.

My main problem was that I didn’t feel connected to any character at all. I felt like I was watching the protagonists, not experiencing anything with them. And not even just watching them, but watching them through a couple of layers of glass. Everything seemed blurry and confusing to me, and required the reader to think in a way I did not like. You get information about what the protagonists are doing from all kinds of sources, but you almost never hear their thoughts and feelings.

Another problem is that no issue or character is probably introduced either. It is just thrown in your face, and you have to figure things out yourself. A document about some weird unknown guy can all of a sudden just come a long, and you’re just sitting there like what the hell is this all about??

I am a very character focused reader, so I am not invested in a story without feeling attachment to some characters. If you are the least bit like me I would not recommend this book at all. If  you, however, are interested in a plot driven story with super cool sci-fi elements and think all my rants about knowing what a character feels is bullshit, this book is for you.

I will once again say that I did not finish the book, but I do expect more after 232 pages.

I know this is a very unpopular opinion, so I would love to hear your thoughts on this. 

Fiona
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16 thoughts on “ILLUMINAE | OVERHYPED, DNF REVIEW

  1. InCaseOfBookishness says:

    I feel EXACTLY the same way as you, so thank god I’m not the only one! I didn’t make it quite as far as you did, but I had to abandon it about 100 pages in because I just didn’t enjoy the format. It wasn’t clicking for me and I wasn’t excited about it in the way that everyone is hyping about it.
    I’m probably going to try and give it another go at some point in the hope that maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood, but my opinion kind of feels justified now that I’ve seen your review!

    Like

  2. dutchbookiemonster says:

    Personally I did really enjoy it but I can definitely see how someone wouldn’t like it! Because of the format it’s a hit or miss, you either love it or hate it but there’s no in between.
    I also think not everyone would be brave enough to write a negative review about a very popular book but I like seeing it and viewing from this perspective 😊

    Like

  3. Justine says:

    It sounds like my exact cup of tea, but I can definitely understand why you might not enjoy it. I’m a big believer in DNFing books after a certain point (about 100 pages for me)!

    Like

  4. Lu Reads says:

    When I read this book I was super close to putting it down too! I was a bit confused and didn’t feel that connected. I
    think that for me I got connected to the characters very late into the book around page 300-350. It was a very interesting read for me, and I very much liked the format, as I liked how it felt like I was watching the characters.
    I really liked the funny CCTV guy’s commentary, and felt like I was sitting there with him watching the events take place.
    It was a really weird reading experience for me, but I think that’s why I liked it so much!

    Like

  5. luvtoread says:

    Yes!! Great post!! I felt much the same way, although I did finish the book and have read the sequel. It’s almost like the format was trying too hard to be cool, and the characters suffered for it. I skipped a lot of the pages with swirly text and hard to read font.

    Like

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