BOOK REVIEW: Illuminae – by Amie Kaufman

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Title: Illuminae
(The Illuminae Files #1)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: YA, Science Fiction, Dystopia
First published: October 20th 2015
Finished reading: January 15th 2016
Pages: 608
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“Part of being alive is having life change us. The people around us, the events we live through, all of them shape us. And that’s what I think you’re afraid of. Maybe not of dying. But of this you, the you you’ve become, ceasing to exist.”

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There has been an enormous hype around this book even before it actually came out, and now I’ve read it I can definitely understand why. Illuminae is without doubt a very special book. The plot itself might not be overly original, but the prose and creative layout of the text and many illustrations are just that: highly original. Still, it was the creative layout of some parts of the book (especially the AIDAN pages and the battle scenes) that were also starting to frustrate me. Those who have read a shiny paperback or hardback version will probably be surprised, but trust me: having to read a kindle version of Illuminae royally sucks. There really should be a warning on the cover saying to only start reading it if you have an actual copy in your hands… Because I really started to get a headache trying to decipher some of the pages and ended up finishing it on my computer. The plot is quite simple and I liked the idea behind Illuminae, but I’m not sure I was a fan of the relationship between Kady and Ezra. The computer AIDAN had an interesting role even though I’m still not sure why they couldn’t just shut it down… But hey, a computer of fantasy story is set in 2575 can do whatever it wants right? Would I recommend it? Yes, but please don’t make the same mistake as I did and read it on your kindle…

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Kady decided to break up with her boyfriend Ezra the other day, but what she didn’t know is that her planet was about to be invaded… Two megacorporations are at war over a planet, and the planet and its people are being destroyed in the process. Some manage to escape, and both Kady and Ezra are among them. They were forced to fight their way out onto an evacuating spaceship, and the three ships that managed to escape are now trying to escape the enemy warship in pursuit. Kady, her mother and Ezra end up on different ships, and the enemy warship is not the only problem they have to face… A deadly plague broke out on one of the ships and is mutating, and the onboard computer AIDAN is having problems as well. Will they be able to make it somewhere safe on time?

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Like I said above, the actual plot is not that special, but the way the story is told is. Amie Kaufman has used all kinds of documents, emails, military files and other things to slowly tell us the story what happened on those ships that were trying to escape the enemy warship… The creativeness of the layout and illustrations is clear, but I also cannot deny some of the pages really started to frustrate me as they weren’t easy to decipher on my kindle. Still, there is no doubt that I will pick up a paper version of the sequel as soon as it comes out.

BOOK REVIEW: The Martian – by Andy Weir

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Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Adventure
First published: February 11th 2014
Finished reading: August 18th 2015
Pages: 369
Rating 5

“I need to ask myself, ‘What would an Apollo astronaut do?’ He’d drink three whiskey sours, drive his Corvette to the launchpad, then fly to the moon in a command module smaller than my Rover. Man those guys were cool.”

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The Martian has been all over the blogosphere lately and it sounded like a very interesting read, so I thought it was about time I finally read it. In general I’m a bit hesitant towards overhyped books and I normally don’t read a lot of books set in space either… But I’m glad I decided to read this story by Andy Weir anyway, because The Martian was definitely an exception to the overhyped books rule. This book was simply brilliant. The main character, the plot, the prose… Everything was perfectly done and there were so many quotes marked on my kindle! The story of the main character and astronaut Mark Watney is one of extreme survival, but it’s also full of technical/scientific details I loved and funny moments that made me laugh out loud at points. It’s the perfect mix of science, adventure and humor that will speak to a very broad public… Even to those who normally don’t really like stories set in space like me. The Martian is without doubt one of my favorite reads this year and I would recommend it with my eyes closed!

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A few days ago, astronaut Mark Watney was just one of the first people to set foot on Mars, but things have gone terribly wrong since. A mayor dust story forces the crew to evacuate, but Mark never made it back to the ship… The rest of the crew thinks he’s dead and leave him behind. Mark is now stranded and completely alone on the foreign planet, but his resourcefulness helps him survive the first crucial days. He takes a crash course in Surviving On Mars 101 and soon he found himself a daily routine. He has no way to contact Earth to tell everyone he’s alive, but Mark is working on that. He will have to succeed to survive; there are a lot of things that can kill him on Mars and he is slowly running out of supplies and time…

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I can definitely understand why The Martian has won already so many awards, because this book is simply brilliant. Even if you aren’t into the whole space genre, you cannot help but enjoy this story, feel for the character and be amazed by his resourcefulness while surviving on Mars. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time and I loved the prose and character development. This book has made it straight to my favorites list and I would love to read more of Andy Weir‘s work in the future. 110% recommended!