I'm so far behind in blogging about the amazing, awesome stuff I've been reading lately. I'm just going to have to gush incoherently and in random order about a bunch of incredible books that I've finished in the past few weeks, because I can't bear not to talk about them. But I'm hoping to catch up with the stuff I'm in the middle of soon.
Okay, I'm big on fantasy and scifi, but I often find the blurbs surprisingly irritating. The books with the most worldbuilding often tease you with it in ways that just sound stupid--"a time traveling robot, a socialist guinea pig, and a sassy French horn team up to fight crime!" I'm supposed to be excited wondering how the author makes it work, but mostly I end up being doubtful.
So the problem comes when I'm trying to talk someone into reading a book with a plot that is so--complicated isn't the word, because it's very easy to understand. But complex, with lots of moving parts, many of which make good poster blurbs for exciting movies.
You've got a teenage love story set against the backdrop of an interstellar corporate war. Okay, that's a thing, sure. And the girl's a gifted hacker and the guy turns out to be an amazing pilot and they've just broken up, but fate throws them together(ish). And their planet is attacked, and they are evacuated, and the fleet is on the run from the attackers. This is a reasonable scope for a story, and it's a really good story.
But then you have to add in the rogue (possibly insane) AI. And the plague--don't forget the plague. Which is kind of a zombie plague? Not really zombies, but your standard psychotic rage plague. We've all seen these movies, read these books.
But this one is SOOOOO much better! Illuminae, by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, is insanely good. It's incredibly ambitious--it's formatted as a story of found documents, chat transcripts, official records, etc. This is always a risky proposition, because it's SO easy to fall out of voice, but this is just so well done. There are a few places where I'd like to debate about the format--the AI logs, especially, seem very linear relative to what they're trying to do with the computer, but I'm not sure how else you would do it. And the transcripts of the video logs are charmingly narrated--the "tech" who transcribed them was clearly an author who hadn't had a chance to be sassy in a while.
But I think the BEST thing about this was Kady. She is tough as nails, and damn if I don't mean that. She's not a softy underneath; she's shoe-leather to the spine, but that doesn't mean that she's dead inside or anything. She's just hard and fast and passionate and on fire. And brilliant. And also 17 and stubborn, and powerfully resistant to authority.
Honestly, when you're running a refugee camp and a fleet of spaceships on the run, authority isn't all bad. A maverick can be dangerous. But so can the powerful making narrow minded decisions. And, you know, the plague. Did I mention the plague? Or the rogue AI? Anyway, Kady knows they're keeping secrets, and she's determined to dig them up. With all the antagonists pulling the refugees in different directions, one random 17 year old might be the one to hold things together.
Kaufman and Kristoff coauthored the book, and the bio says that they're a combined 12 feet 5 inches tall. I find that one of the most fascinating things to ponder. Are they both over six feet? Is one of them almost seven?
You absolutely should read this book. And NOT on the Kindle--you need to have a physical copy. There is some very complicated typography that is not going to translate well to different screen sizes. Okay, yes, go now and read this.