When Kerenza, a distant planet basically set up for an illegal mining operation is attacked, refugees of the attack are shuttled onto three ships – Alexander, Hypatia, and Copernicus. Kady and Ezra, recent (very recent) exes, survive the attack and end up on the Hypatia and Alexander respectively. With the Lincoln (the attack ship) still on their tales, the three ships attempt to limp their way to safety. However, it soon becomes apparent that the crews have more than the Lincoln to worry about. The AI seems to be going rouge and Copernicus is experiencing an outbreak that they don’t understand.

Ezra has been conscripted (like many refugees) as a pilot and Kady fills her time by hacking into the ships’ systems, looking for information and finding ways to covertly speak to Ezra (once she’s done giving him the silent treatment). The deeper they get, the more twisted and terrifying things become and it’s uncertain whether anyone will make it to safety alive.

A novel told through chats, interviews, and official files and transcripts, Illuminae uses the physical pages of the book as part of the story, playing with formatting, images, and using the the shape of the text to make art and read like poetry. It does start off a bit slow. I almost gave up before the half way point. I think some of it has to do with formatting, it takes awhile to connect to any of the characters and that makes the build up drag. Once the action started though I found it hard to put down and will definitely be picking up book 2, Gemina (and if you’ve already read books 1 and 2, book 3, Obsidio is now available).

*Illuminae is a 2019 Lincoln Award Nominee