I really enjoyed Illuminae, but in my opinion this sequel blew it out of the water. It was funny and terrifying and heartbreaking and infuriating, and it delivered all of these feelings through nearly nonstop action and at a breakneck speed. Obsidio can’t come out fast enough!
When I first started reading, I was disappointed. Where were Kady and AIDAN and the other characters I had come to love in Illuminae? Who were these new people, and why was I supposed to care about them? Fast forward to the end of the book, and I am WAY more invested in the lives of Hanna and Nik and Ella than I was in Kady and AIDAN, even though I love them and was crazy excited when they made their appearance. This new cast of characters were just so incredibly compelling. I cared so much about what happened to them.
“And now, born from the ashes, she’s a warrior in bloodied black.”
Hanna, daughter of the station’s commander, and supposed golden girl. Beautiful, smart, artistic, highly trained in martial arts. Initially, a bit of a snob. But boy, does she step up and radically change when everything hits the fan.
“And blood and tears and screams did not matter anymore, because at least they are together.”
Nik, member of the House of Knives, a cartel family. Covered in gorgeous tattoos, each of which has a sinister meaning. And a reluctant member at that. Incredibly charming, with a much bigger, squishier heart than he lets on. Has a thing for cows.
“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”
Ella, disabled waif and hacker extraordinaire. Goes by the handle Pauchok, or Little Spider. Fifteen years old, but knows more than you’ll know when you’re ninety. The sass is strong with this one.
These three are the backbone of this story. And they are all my precious darlings.
There was romance here, and it was romance that bothered me at first. But as the book progressed, it became one of the best romances I’ve read in any YA book. Not that this book is a romance, mind you. It had a romantic element, but the book can’t be defined as a romance. It’s a science fiction action/horror/thriller with a touch of romance. I think. Seriously, this series encompasses so many genres that it’s unreal.
One of my favorite things about this book was the humor. In the face of dire situations, mankind almost always resorts to humor to keep themselves pain, and that’s exactly what happened here. The characters were always cracking jokes in the worst circumstances, and I thought that was a very realistic and relatable choice.
And for fangirls, there were pop culture references sprinkled throughout. If you’re a YA fan, watch out for names of your favorite authors among the dead. But the ones that got me were tiny references to Firefly, Sherlock, and Rocky Horror. Those were the moments that made me squeal. And the last quarter of the book feels like a Doctor Who reference, because everything gets so wibbly-wobbly.
So, if I loved this so much, why did it not get five full stars? The formatting. How this story is presented is one of my favorite things about the series. There is never a dull moment, and I’m always wondering what format the story will take next. It’s one of the things that keeps me reading. But there are certain parts that are almost impossible to read, nearly black words printed on a black background. It made my eyes cross, trying to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.
Other than the eye strain, this book was near perfect. It’s definitely among my favorite YA series, as well as my favorite Sci-Fi. Even if you’re not a fan of either genre, you should give it a try. It’s accessible and funny and keeps you on the edge of your seat. You’ll be glad you stepped out of your comfort zone.