Off My Bookshelf

Off My Bookshelf is a new monthly feature where every month I take a book off my bookshelf, one that I've had a for a while and put it on the top of my TBR because it's all too easy to get caught up in the shiny new releases; older books need some love too.

In November that book was Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufmann.

Which, well, WOW.

I can tell you exactly why this book took me so long to read: the formatting. I bought it because I had been hearing about it everywhere and then I was worried about it because I'm a traditional reader. I like chapters and words in lines on pages and stories with a beginning, a middle and an end. Illuminae....has none of these things. It is pretty spectacular.

The deal is this. It's set in 2575 and Kadie's just broken up with her boyfriend. She thinks life can't get much worse but then, to prove her wrong her planet is invaded. Kady and Ezra - the ex - have to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet. Which is under attack. And then is hit by a deadly plague. And the AI which is meant to be their protector goes mental. AND IT IS ALL SO TENSE AND EXCITING.

The thing is, the thing that had me picking it up and putting it down again for the longest time, is that it's told via a dossier of hacked documents - reports and emails and diary entries and instant messenger dialogues and interviews, and I don't know why this concerned me because actually I do love an epistolary novel but I think it just seemed like there was going to be a lot going on here - and there is - and I wasn't sure it was going to work.

It worked.

This book is SO GOOD.

Seriously, it's such a good read. It is fractured at times, BUT THAT'S THE POINT, it's fractured and it flits from here to there and sometimes you don't know where you are or who you're reading about or who you can trust because holy unreliable narrators, batman, but it all kind of ties together into this story about this girl, who's struggling actually, and yet still trying to save the world. There are twists and there are turns and there are things said and unsaid and there's a lot of reading between the lines, it's harrowing and it's funny and it's so exciting and also as a side note, this book is stunning - visually I mean, the way the documents are reproduced makes it a FEAST FOR THE EYES.

Honestly, I cannot even begin to tell you how impressed I was with this book - all 600 pages of it.

The characters are excellent: Kadie is all sarcasm and zero fucks and Ezra is this boy she loves and you kind of see why even though he's a bit of a jerk and Aiden is NOT EVEN REAL and yet I love him and oh my goodness Jimmy. It's this sweeping epic book that makes you feel all the things. I am still not over it.

I won't lie: it took a while to get going, I think because it's so different that it took me a while to get used to it, I initially found it a little hard to get absorbed in to the whole world that's been so well built here because it wasn't like reading a story, it was like working my way through a massive pile of paperwork trying to work out what it was all trying to tell me, which I think was kind of the point, but still, it took some adjusting. Once it clicked though, HOLY AND ALSO MOLY. Stick with this book, is what I'm saying, it's worth it.

This book - it lives up to the hype kids, it lives up to ALL THE HYPE.

I cannot wait to read Gemina.