Let’s Talk About Illuminae…

So here is where I wish I had the camera and the face to make YouTube videos. I need to talk about Illuminae. It would be so much easier to just start filming and purge all my thoughts… but that’s not going to happen. Instead I have to try to type as fast as my brain flies as I get out my thoughts about this book, before I move onto reading Gemina.

This is going to be loooooong and FULL OF SPOILERS… I’m warning you now. I know that I am in the minority, that most people are already done with the entire series, so I think this will be okay to post.

okay…. ready….SPOILERS AHEAD…

Let me start out by saying I had no idea what I was getting into with this book other than it was written as a compilation of documents. That seemed gimmicky, but the consensus seemed to be that it was done well. I didn’t pay much attention to what the actual story was about. Something about space… something about teenagers…. emails… text messages… ok, I’ll bite. So I checked out a copy from my library.

I started off pretty slow with the book, but could tell it was going to be easy to read and follow, and that I would probably enjoy it. I liked Kady and Ezra’s sarcasm and reactions to the interviewers in the beginning, when they were first evacuated from their mining planet, Kerenza IV.

I figured it would be a kind of Star Warsy story… their planet got destroyed as part of some intergalactic war. But then…. oh man…. Phobos.

Let me pause for a minute and discuss ‘trigger warnings.’ I have to be honest, these annoy the crap out of me. When I hear or read “Trigger warning… this character is a homophobe…. that character is sexist…. violence…. abuse…. etc” I’m not saying these things are not serious and upsetting, but I don’t feel like readers should be coddled like this. How many years did we get by with just picking up a book and deciding for ourselves how to react to it, whether it was too upsetting to continue… I don’t know. I just wonder if all these trigger warnings all the time are necessary.

So back to Illuminae…. I get to page 145 and the briefing note says “read with the lights on,” and all of a sudden I’m wondering where the heck my trigger warnings are! No one EVER said anything about a highly contagious virus turning people into zombies.

For the record, my three biggest irrational fears are:

  1. Super Viruses (especially weaponized)
  2. Zombies
  3. Rogue A.I.

Omigosh… reading about that first report of the guy who killed his wife and children and cut out their eyes….and the report from a lab tech that you can tell is just tell is dissolving into paranoid madness…. so creepy!!!

I did NOT see this turn of events coming! I guess I should have, but I just figured the black cloud that spread over Kerenza during the attack from BT was just going to be a degenerative CNS affliction. That’s bad enough. But turning everyone into… well, not technically zombies…. but yeah basically zombies. Worse than zombies! They maintained their memories and critical thinking and were able to organize into hunting parties. ahhhhhhhh!!!!

I told my husband about this point in the plot and his response was “Uh oh.” Honestly, that’s the highest amount of enthusiasm he can muster when I go on reading induced bouts of hysteria. But at least he lets me vent, and he knew that this was going to be an issue for me. He was quite surprised later when I told him I was loving the book. So I’m actually glad I didn’t have those warnings about viruses and zombies or I might not have read this.

And now for biggest fear #3… rogue A.I.

When AIDAN got turned back on and the damaged systems were trying to reboot. Wow. I loved how he started making inferences and conjectures and getting <error> messages… because, he’s not coded to think that way. Genius! These authors are geniuses!

I got to thinking about some other examples of AI that I’ve enjoyed. Iko in the Lunar Chronicles, and Mech6.0 from the short story The Little Android, both by Marissa Meyer. I also thought about a book I read called A Working Theory of Love in which a man uses his late father’s journals to develop a personality for an AI program that doesn’t know that it isn’t actually human. All of these get you feeling so confused and raise moral quandaries about what makes a person a person. Sentience? Reasoning? Empathy? The ability to Love?

You come to believe AIDAN did the right thing when he took out Copernicus…. kind of… I mean… he shouldn’t have made that call by himself, but yeah in the end… it was the right call wasn’t it? And he saved the Alexander by dropping the logic bomb on the Lincoln. But then…. he goes all HAL on them.


If you don’t know, HAL 9000 is the AI from the classic SciFi movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I saw this movie when I was may 12…ugh quick math puts that at nearly 20 years ago. Damn, I’m old. So it is definitely time for a re-watch. But the impact it had on me has certainly been lasting. To date… I have NOT hooked up the Echo Dot that my mom gave us, and Alexa makes me uncomfortable. I know, I know. I’m crazy.

ANYWAY, Illuminae is very obviously influenced by Space Odyssey when it comes to this point in the plot.

It was just so disturbing to me when AIDAN’s logs reflect his growing emotions (I guess they’re emotions) and his feelings of love toward Kad. And then at the end, her attachment to him! WHAT? She plans on rebuilding that sociopath computer?! Disturbing… and yet, it’s kind of great.

But I have a hard time with AIDAN’s logic systems. I was waiting for someone to point out the fault in his reasoning that his actions were saving the fleet. I agree the General was a threat… but AIDAN’s actions decimated the Alexander… how was that protecting them? I feel like I missed something. I understand how ultimately he needed Kady to be on board to help defend against the Lincoln, but I don’t get why AIDAN allowed Phobos to spread like that.

I need to wind down now. But before I go I want to mention that Ezra is my favorite character, and I was nervous there for a minute. Luckily I was pretty sure I had heard he was in the second book, so I never totally believed he was gone.

I LOVED the format. Especially the parts when AIDAN is recording the battles with the Lincoln and the text takes the shapes of the pilots in formation, of their flight paths, and the chaos of the battle. And how the shape of the text bounces in the way Kady does when she has to don an Enviro-suit and travel down the outside of the ship. So good!

This book was so good!

Is anyone still reading this post? gosh it’s a long one. I think this was more for myself, since I have no one to talk to while I read it. I was tempted to try Instagram live, but I don’t like being filmed, and I really don’t have the following to do something like that. I did post a picture and my reaction when I got to the first part with the virus. I would love to find a way to incorporate reaction AS I’m reading. I started a Twitter account (@AReadsandBlogs) so I could maybe try sharing on there as I read… but I don’t really know how to Twitter.

What exactly is buddy reading? Where do I find these buddies? Maybe I could try that.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to watching (and reading maybe?) A Space Odyssey, and to reading Gemina and Obsidio.

7 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Illuminae…

  1. Pingback: The 20 Questions Book Tag – Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

  2. Pingback: April Wrap-Up – Alex Reads and Blogs

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