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Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)
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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Greetings Space Opera Fans!

Kady Grant has typical problems: school, parents, and a boyfriend she just dumped. But life spirals out of control when Kady's planet, Kerenza, is attacked by an unknown enemy. That's the premise behind Illuminae by Amie Kaufman.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman Amie Kaufman

Here's the synopsis:

First, survive. Then tell the truth.

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 one of the 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!

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents – including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews and more – Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth and the courage of everyday heroes...


ARE YOU READING ILLUMINAE? Shout it out in the comments thread below, find a book buddy to read along with you, and come back here to talk about this intriguing book. Just remember to be kind and use the spoiler .html so you don't ruin the fun for somebody who isn't so far along.

Be epic!

Anna Erishkigal
SOF Borg Queen


message 2: by Whitney (new) - added it

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments I am waiting to get my copy from the library due to the holidays I might not get to it before Jan. sadly.


message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Well the timeline isn't mandatory Chakara :-) At the end of the month, the discussion threads get moved down to the 'Previous BOTM Threads' but you can still join and comment at any time.


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments I loved the format of this. I really didn't think I would, but I did. I'll be keen to hear what everyone else thinks.


M Alan Kazlev (akazlev) Just read and reviewed this, i like the dossier format and the original premise, had high hopes for this book. But Kady Grant comes across as a "mary sue", and as someone who is interested in ordinary people in extraordinary situations, i have a strong aversion to mary sues.


message 6: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 887 comments Mod
What's a "mary sue"? I'm old; it's okay if I look a little dumb.


message 7: by Fiannawolf (new)

Fiannawolf | 163 comments http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

Its pretty much the male or female version of a character that has almost no faults and its like having godmode in a videogame.

In other words a character that is pure wish fulfillment.


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments M Alan wrote: "Just read and reviewed this, i like the dossier format and the original premise, had high hopes for this book. But Kady Grant comes across as a "mary sue", and as someone who is interested in ordin..."

It's interesting to see differing opinions. I actually didn't think that Kady Grant was a Mary-Sue at all :)


Powder River Rose (powderriverrose) Betsy wrote: "What's a "mary sue"? I'm old; it's okay if I look a little dumb."

hehehehehe. I'm youngish and I didn't know either......we can look dumb together. ;)


message 10: by M Alan (last edited Dec 06, 2015 02:11AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Alan Kazlev (akazlev) Leonie wrote: "It's interesting to see differing opinions. I actually didn't think that Kady Grant was a Mary-Sue at all :)"

Apart from an aversion to guns, which is more an ethical thing (which in turn could be construed as further adding to Kady's mary sue status as having "high ethical/moral principles") is there *one thing* she does that she's not amazing at? Skillfully driving an unfamiliar 4 wheel drive in a crisis situation, coding, hacking, climbing, piloting a shuttle... not to mention incredible emotional maturity for a 17 yr old. I could add a lot more but don't want to give away too many spoilers :-)


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments M Alan wrote: "Leonie wrote: "It's interesting to see differing opinions. I actually didn't think that Kady Grant was a Mary-Sue at all :)"

Apart from an aversion to guns, which is more an ethical thing (which i..."


Mary-Sues usually have perfect relationships with everyone, which Kady clearly does not. I do think a character can be more than a Mary-Sue even if they're good at all kinds of stuff. It depends on the upbringing of the character/person.

If I take a look at our daughter at the same age: Could drive an unfamiliar 4WD, could climb and abseil, couldn't code or hack, but could handle cattle and many other animals, and could sail a boat. (Probably not the same as piloting a shuttle - but still a reasonable complexity level, given that Kady had a computer to help.)

And believe me, was not a Mary-Sue ;)


message 12: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) The young adult reader WANTS to read about role models their age who are competent at many things, and yet real in that they still have more to learn. My eldest could drive any vehicle, handle 2,000 pound draft horses, hack into a computer reasonably well, and was assistant manager of her store at 17 years old.


message 13: by M Alan (last edited Dec 06, 2015 07:13PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Alan Kazlev (akazlev) Concede point re many young people good at driving.

As for the rest, people good at geek stuff (hacking) are generally not so good at things requiring physical coordination as well as being socially awkward and emotionally backward (aspergers syndrome or similar). I'm the classic nerd for example, I know what it's like to not fit in at school or in society. And I guess I want to read about characters who are talented yet flawed and imperfect like I am, not superhumans.

I would expect that anyone who is good at something would always have had an interst at that. Kady is so astonishingly talented at hacking and hugely impresses Zhang, that realistically she would've been coding, writing programs, breaking into this military computers etc, her whole childhood, just as real nerd/geek kids do. But there is no backstory on this. Also she's got hot jock Ezra as boyfriend (sure she broke off with him but then they get together again), Sure that fits with her being a good driver, but not with her being a coding prodigy. I would expect, though maybe I am totally wrong, that a real geek / nerd girl is likely to be socially awkward and not have an alpha male boyfriend, as those sort of guys go more for cheerleader types (i'm sure there's exceptions, but generally).

But most of all Kady's emotional maturity and inner voice comes across as a smart, sassy, and very witty and quick on her feet 30-something (and basically the sort of person we'd all like to be, certainly light years beyond me), i find it very hard to envisage a 17 year old girl talking like that.

As for Mary Sues being liked by everyone, that only applies to the fanfic mary sue, not the literary mary sue. The mary sue character in stories e.g. science fiction may often rub people up the wrong way. e.g. Jim Holden in Leviathon Awakes and sequels

Now, I'm writing a young adult series in which the characters all have some talents and abilities, but also have flaws. So one guy is the more nerd type, with strong i tellect but awkward emotionally. One girl is the more physical type, being Third Mate ona spaceship (at age 20). Maybe it's just me, but i find it more satisfying to have characters who are flawed and imperfect, yet still really good and prodigies at some things. I really try to ensure all my characters do not have adult type maturity or complexity. Being an aspie helps, and also looking at how kids that age act and respond. At 17, your brain is still forming.

Better examples imho of young characters are in Scott Westerfield et al Zeros https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... and John Marsden Tomorrow When The War Began https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7...

Anyway, different strokes for different folks.


message 14: by Whitney (new) - added it

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments I started this book my copy came quickly from the library so yay! So happy to finally get to read a book at the same time with everyone else. :)

I'm only about 30 pages in but I am interested in seeing what is on the next page! :D

However I am annoyed that (view spoiler)


message 15: by Whitney (new) - added it

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments I also have a hard time liking Kady or Ezra because (view spoiler)


message 16: by Anna (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) M Alan wrote: "I would expect, though maybe I am totally wrong, that a real geek / nerd girl is likely to be socially awkward and not have an alpha male boyfriend, as those sort of guys go more for cheerleader types (i'm sure there's exceptions, but generally). ..."

The problem with perpetuating the viewpoint (which is false, BTW ... I know some women who code and are also into martial arts and gorgeous) is that it shows young women being smart means they have to be ugly / nerdy / unpopular / never get the boy. I -do- agree with portraying characters with flaws, but when you play the nerd-stereotype card, not only is it cliche, but it also turns off the larger population of young women. YA readers want to be popular and competent, not just smart. You have to show they can have MOST of those things, maybe use the skill to help them achieve that goal. Otherwise you are only perpetuating a negative stereotype of 'women who code are ugly.' And who, really, wants to read about that?


message 17: by Whitney (new) - added it

Whitney (whitneychakara) | 53 comments Anna wrote: "M Alan wrote: "I would expect, though maybe I am totally wrong, that a real geek / nerd girl is likely to be socially awkward and not have an alpha male boyfriend, as those sort of guys go more for..."

I think this is interesting and I agree that that stereotype is so boring and a tad offensive ( MS in IT here).

However, is it better to portray the character as having brains and beauty? this could also send the message to teens that its not enough to be smart and have other wonderful traits you also have to look absolutely gorgeous for things to go your way, to get the boy or what ever it might be that you desire.

I think this stereotype is just as bad.


message 18: by Anna (last edited Dec 12, 2015 07:31AM) (new)

Anna Erishkigal (annaerishkigal) Chakara wrote: "However, is it better to portray the character as having brains and beauty? this could also send the message to teens that its not enough to be smart and have other wonderful traits you also have to look absolutely gorgeous for things to go your way, to get the boy or what ever it might be that you desire...."

As a PARENT, I agree with you 100%. As the geek-done-okay I want my kid to understand that looks don't matter. But as a PARENT of TEENAGE GIRLS there comes a time when you are forced to deal with the reality that while SOME girls might relate to the stereotype of 'I'm not pretty, but I'm super smart,' there is a whole massive demographic of young women who won't touch sci-fi because it's heroines are portrayed as the very people in their schools they DO NOT WANT to be classified as.

That's why sparkly vampires have become so popular :-P The romance authors cater to a young woman's need to be seen as attractive and desirable. So much more so when you get a 'Cinderella' archetype. You are dealing with biology here when it comes to Young Adult women. I think that's why most 'middle of the road' young women avoid the genre :-( I would HOPE it doesn't swing to the other extreme, but let's stop portraying smart girls as ugly and socially awkward? We need 'Hermoine in Space.'

To -ME- Amie Kaufman's novel (what I've read so far) hits a lot of 'sweet spots.' Smart. Competent. Quick learner. Makes mistakes, but not portrayed as overly socially awkward. There is no 'Cinderella archetype' so far ... the gal gets stuff done because she took the time to learn it. I like that :-)


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments Anna wrote: "Chakara wrote: "However, is it better to portray the character as having brains and beauty? this could also send the message to teens that its not enough to be smart and have other wonderful traits..."

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Anna.


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments Chakara wrote: "I also have a hard time liking Kady or Ezra because [spoilers removed]"

Amie Kaufmann is an Australian author. (As am I) The way Ezra and Kady speak to each other is actually quite normal here. The more you like someone, the more you're able to denigrate them. It does have a lot to do with tone of voice and facial expression, however for me it all rang true.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) I just started this and am really enjoying it. When I first flipped through the pages I thought the format would annoy me, but I've discovered I quite like it.

I love the interviews. How did you know whose ship it was? Uh, duh... the logo on the side? LOL!

Now, as to the mary sue discussion, I can't see it and I think people try to label characters far too much. At any rate, Kady doesn't come across as perfect at all. Anyway, I'm much more annoyed with the poor little rich girl trope.


Niels Bugge | 141 comments Got around to reading it because I didn't have anything else, this book is awesome!


message 23: by Niels (last edited May 10, 2016 11:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Niels Bugge | 141 comments Regarding the Mary Sue-discussion:

- I didn't notice that she was supposed to be particularly pretty? If it's because she's with a jock, well, in the beginning he's definitely flawed and acts like moron so what makes you think he's a catch? Furthermore, pretty girls are allowed to be nerdy, in fact nerdy girls often score way above their level because guys like a girl they can relate to.

- Popularity: Did the book mention? She's VERY lonely on the spaceship, and only talk to the super akward other hacker and her mom, which doesn't really scream magnetic personality

- Driving cars: She grew up on a freaking ice-covered mining-colony, you'd expect her to have some survival skills. Take the ipad and sofa away from your average child, challenge them to do something worthwhile with their time, and you'll see wonders.

- Flying shuttles: That was done on auto-pilot

- Panicking when faced with zombies: She actually shoots one, but it doesn't take very long before she's so heavily traumatized that it's perfectly understandable that she snaps and run, no high horse there.

My conclusion is that pretty much her *only* skill is computers and hacking - and you CAN be a prodigy at age 17.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) I'm not quite done but it's quite the page turner. Only one complaint that is also a strength. The strange format.


message 25: by M Alan (last edited May 11, 2016 02:25PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

M Alan Kazlev (akazlev) Ok I shouldn't have said Mary Sue. (Although, should point out, outside really bad fanfic, Mary Sues do not have to be unrealistically beautiful, or popular, and often are not. Take the eponymous Honor Harrington of the popular David Weber military SF series. Weber is at pains to point out Honor is gangly and unattractive looking. Nor does she have many friends).

Most characters can do lots of things really well, because if they didn't there would be a story! Although see Corrine Davis Edge of Gone https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2... for a character that is *less* competent and capable then everyone else (because of autism, tho she also has other problems like being black in a white society, having a neurotic junkie mother etc), but still manages to fight against the odds.

My real gripe is that the two main characters are much too sophisticated and emotional mature, too adult in their relationship and communication with each other, to feel like *teenagers*. I remember when I was a kid I was totally clueless about relationships, people, life, everything. If you have any diaries or journals or whatever you wrote as a teenager, you will notice how different the person who wrote them is to the person you are now. If the two main protagonists here were both in their thirties I wouldn't have any problem at all. It was just the teenage bit that destroyed the suspension of disbelief for me.

If you read John Marsden, an Australian YA writer and author of the immensely popular Tomorrow When The War Begins https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7... series and many other books, you will find feisty protagonists (like Ellie in the Tommorrow... series) that still feel and talk like authentic teenagers.

Niels said: "you CAN be a (computer) prodigy at age 17. " I totally agree, it's also the case at 13. But if you are a super hacker, you will probably have been fascinated with computers and coding since you were a little kid. It's hard to imagine someone becoming a world class hacker (not just a competent computer user, but a worldclass hacker) just because the plot demands it.

I am not saying it is a badly written book. On the contrary. It is fast paced and exciting, even if painfully derivative in parts (I mean, zombies??? ) I like the graphics of the ships and funky dosier like format. It's just that for me the purportedly teenage protagonists are not the sort of characters I personally can relate to. Different strokes for different folks.


Kirsten  (kmcripn) Just finished reading Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie Kaufman Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, part of the Goodreads Choice Awards challenge.

Really enjoyed it. Great adventure. But the format can be annoying for someone with impaired eyesight. I wonder if it would've been better as an audio without all the visual tidbits they give you in the book.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Leonie (leonierogers) | 339 comments Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated" wrote: "Just finished reading Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1) by Amie KaufmanIlluminae by Amie Kaufman, part of the Goodreads Choice Awards challenge.

Really enjoyed it. Great adventure. B..."


A friend in another group read it as an audiobook and absolutely loved it.


Niels Bugge | 141 comments The audio version was really good, avoided the whole inane email-header crap in 50 shades


message 29: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Scott I actually bought the hard cover after reading the book on my kindle, because I enjoyed the interesting format and wanted to see it full size. And I almost never buy hard cover books any more. The sequel Gemina is supposed to be out in October this year, BTW. Here's a fairly recent article on the authors: http://www.bustle.com/articles/156056...


Kirsten  (kmcripn) Veronica wrote: "I actually bought the hard cover after reading the book on my kindle, because I enjoyed the interesting format and wanted to see it full size. And I almost never buy hard cover books any more. The ..."

I know! I gave up on the Kindle because of my eyeballs!! The book was better but still really tough!! It would've been better if I could've really zoomed in on some of the things. But, then again, it is YA - presumably they have better eyes than a 50-year old.


Michel Meijer | 13 comments Just finished the book and I absolutely loved the story, the characters, their interaction and the format. I am quite allergic for Mary-Sue's and I dont think Kady is one, although she appears to be older than 17. Credibility would be higher of she would be 5-10 years older, but I guess that does not sell. Great book and format, Will certainly check out the next one.


message 32: by Niels (last edited Jun 02, 2016 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Niels Bugge | 141 comments I just wonder how the setting is going to be big enough for two young couples more. With any kind of agency that is. Seems to me that everyone else were just wiped out or cowering in some corner...


Michel Meijer | 13 comments I went through the same thinking, but I suppose there could be room for a story about the science vessel and one about the attacking party. We'll see.


message 34: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Scott Or they could open it up and bring in a completely new setting....will be fun to see what they come up with!


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