Am I Not Merciful?

Am I Not Merciful?


One moment, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have nothing bigger to worry about than each other. Specifically, avoiding each other in the wake of their messy break-up. In the next second, their entire world falls apart.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.


Numbers do not feel.
Do not bleed or weep or hope.
They do not know bravery or sacrifice. Love or allegiance.
At the very apex of callousness, you will find only ones and zeros.

That was…

There aren’t really words adequate enough to describe exactly what reading Illuminae is like. It’s completely unique and original and like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s the type of book that pushes the boundaries of YA science fiction as we know it, and I fell in love with it.

When Kady Grant’s planet is invaded, she manages to escape in an evacuating refugee fleet. But her rescue comes at a cost: there’s an enemy warship on target with her fleet, and a deathly virus mutating within the walls of the ship. And no one seems willing to tell the truth about what’s going on. Unraveling lie after lie, Kady realizes that there’s only one way to find out the truth: scouting out Ezra, the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never talk to again.

One of the things that makes Illuminae such an engrossing story is the way that it’s told. It’s not told in typical story format. Rather, it’s told entirely through interviews, emails, IMs and other hacked docments. I’ll admit I had my suspicions about the way this way of storytelling would turn out, but Kaufman and Kristoff pulled it off wonderfully. The unique way they told the story allows for much more humor, world-building and character development than if it was told as a regular narrative; and I loved it.

I am frequently underestimated. I think it’s because I’m short.

Kady Grant is one of the fiercest and bravest protagonists I have ever read about, and I fell in love with her almost immediately. Yet, at her core, she’s just your everyday teenage girl; insecure, cautious and sometimes vulnerable, and those aspects of her personality are mixed masterfully.

Illuminae is everything I wanted – and more. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff not only met my expectations, but exceeded them by lightyears. I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.

Am I not merciful?


72 thoughts on “Am I Not Merciful?

  1. This sounds FANTASTIC. I don’t normally read space-type things (Starglass…ugh) but I’m going to have to give this a try–I love the idea of the unique format! And the heroine sounds awesome. Great review!

  2. Ever since I saw this book, I’ve been anticipating its release. A lot of the people that I follow (like you) have given it 4-5 star ratings. I am very curious as to how this book will take me through its journey. It definitely sounds ahhhh-mazing!

    1. I’m 99.99% sure you’re going to love this Cait – when I read it I thought it seemed like a total Cait book so I’m curious to see what you think when you read it.

  3. This sounds soooo good! I’ve seen sooo much about Illuminae (I had to check how to spell that) in the book blogosphere lately, but this is the first review I’ve actually read so I will most definitely have to check it out! Yayyy it looks amazing and I’m so excited to read it now.

  4. I am DYING to read this book. I don’t know if you remember, but I also said this same thing when you posted your pre-review on Goodreads a couple of months ago. I still stand by this because god! This looks so awesome and unique! I’ve never even read anything that sounds slightly similar!

  5. GAHHH my resolve to not break down and read this RIGHT NOW is dwindling. I seriously don’t think I can wait much longer to consume this book. I LOVE that it is unique and not typical and still amazing. You know what? Review books be damned, I am starting this NEXT. I would start tonight but I don’t want to confuse it with my current books 😉 Fabulous review!!

  6. Just when I thought I have been ‘hyped out’ by this book your review comes along and has me rolling on the floor in waaaaannnttsss again. MY PRECIOUS. WHEN WILL YOU BE RELEASED. It honestly sound phenomenal, I adore the quote you pulled out, especially the first one about the cruelty of numbers, I KNEW THERE WAS A REASON I HATE MATHS.

    1. No, I totally get that Mishma. Hype makes things so, so much harder than they should be. I hope you end up picking it up and enjoying it as much as I did. Thank you!

  7. Great review. Glad you enjoyed this one. I’ve never read a story told through interviews, emails, and such, so that’s definitely new to me and makes me curious. And I also like that the protagonist is strong, but also has vulnerability. Again, nice review.

    1. The unique formatting is definitely one of the best things about this book Shane. It could have been amazing if it was just told in the form of a regular narrative, but the unique format makes it amazing and then some. 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Your review pretty much has me extremely excited to read the ARC I got off of Netgalley. I don’t know if the experience will be as good if it’s an e-copy BUT I’m pretty positive that all the good things you mentioned, namely the characters, will be perfectly fine!

  9. It’s unusual for me to get caught up in book hype, but I’m not so sure I can wait for this one to come out in paperback before I buy it. It just looks so fun!

  10. I have been seeing this book around the blogosphere for a while now, and I admit that it hasn’t quite convinced me–but you! You have made me want to read this so badly! It sounds SO COOL! And those quotes! Ah, another book I am shamefully adding to my GINORMOUS TBR! ❤

    1. Ahh! I am so glad that you’re interested in it now Erin, even if you weren’t necessarily before. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you think!

  11. OMG I NEED TO READ THIS. This review makes me so sad I haven’t read it yet because I just want to experience all of the amazing-ness and the characters. :((

  12. EEP. This is actually the first book I have read for ILLUMINAE, and I must say you have made me pretty darn excited, Zoe! I know that it’s written through documents and the such, and that did worry me with respect to connecting to the characters, but it seems like it isn’t a problem at all. YAY. I am really keen for this one to be released, and I really hope I love it as much as everyone else has. I hate being the black sheep, and I sometimes am when it comes to beloved books in the YA genre *hides* Here’s to hoping!

    Lovely review, dear <3

    1. I can definitely see how the narrative form might make you nervous (it made me a bit skeptical too), but it doesn’t take away from your connection with the characters in the slightest Chiara. I hope you end up liking it as much as I did!

  13. THIS IS A GORGEOUS REVIEW. Utterly. I only started learning about Illuminae a couple of months ago, because I hadn’t really heard of it and then didn’t pay much attention. The hype bypassed me entirely! I guess it means I only have to wait a short while until it comes out, though, since now I’m pretty excited for it. Actually, after reading your review I am more than pretty excited by it. It sounds unique and exquisite and funny (that “underestimated” quote is seriously wonderful. I think, in a way, it’s how people used to think of me, because I was tiny when I was little and, apparently, tiny = sweet) and it pushes the boundaries?! I’m in love with the sound of this, Zoe! And your review, again, is incredible. Totally amazing. All of those quotes sell me. Awesome job. xx

    1. So glad to hear that Romi – thank you for your kind words! I hope you end up liking it as much as I did! (And ugh…I totally hear you about the whole short thing. People can be so clueless sometimes – LOL).

  14. I’ve tried staying away from reviews for this one buuuuuut I can’t help it, I’m reading it next so I’m so excited about it, and okay, I was a little worried about the format, but it sounds like it adds to the story more than takes away from it, and I did love The Dead House and loved the way that was told, so it’ll probably be the same with this, AND I JUST WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT IT ALREADY. 😀

    1. Ooh…I didn’t know The Dead House had a format like this too Kirsty-Marie. Anyway, I hope you end up liking it as much as I did!

  15. I was lucky enough to have snagged an ARC copy a few months ago, which is rare in Australia as our publisher hasn’t released them yet, despite both authors being Aussies. Twins for the win Zoe! I absolutely loved this one too, completely blew me away how unique not only the format was, but the twists that I don’t think many will see coming. I’d actually be surprised to see anyone not being able to enjoy Illuminae on some level.I’ve already preordered my US hardcover edition and can’t wait until it’s released to read it again. And again. Fabulous review Zoe <3 <3

    1. So glad you loved this as much as I did Kelly! *twin high-five* The twists and the unique format were just absolutely amazing, weren’t they?!? Thank you!

  16. I WANNA READ THIS. BADLY. partially because the cover is glorious, partially because the way of storytelling seems glorious, partially because you say it’s glorious. So it must be glorious.

    And omg. THE WRITING STYLE LOOKS SO COOL. Can I cry already?!

  17. I’M SUPER HAPPY YOU LIKED THIS! I was kind of confused about how this would turn out, but I’ve heard nothing but great things so far! I honestly didn’t think I would like it, but I trust you! hahaha

    GREAT review♥

    1. It definitely seems like it’s one of those books that could either be amazing or absolutely horrible, you know – just from the way it’s told. But I absolutely adored it and I hope you do too! 🙂

  18. I have a copy of this one, the concept and cover are AMAZING though. I’m not sure if I can deal with the writing method of the files, but since you liked it a lot – I hope I enjoy it as well! Lovely review 🙂


    Isn’t it just something? The way it’s told is so different from everything else out there and that makes the story so unique from all the other ones on the shelves.

    HAVE YOU SEEN THE HARDCOVER ARCS?? They’re amazing. I’ve never seen hardcover ARCs, and Illuminae is truly special in that regard. I got an eARC which is still awesome since I got to read it anyway, but I would KILL for one of those hardcover ones.

    Fabulous review, Zoe! Exactly what I was thinking.

    1. The way it’s written is what makes it so original and gripping. It would have been amazing as a regular narrative, but IMO it’s even more amazing written through this format. And I haven’t – but I can only imagine they’re gorgeous! Thank you Claudia – I hope you end up loving this as much as I did. 🙂

    1. I absolutely loved These Broken Stars as well Shar (the Titanic in space theme was right up my alley), and this is just as good. Hope you end up enjoying it as much as I did!

  20. Oooh, I’ve been hearing about this book all over the place, and I’ve been dying to get my hands on it. *tries to hide jealousy* *fails* I’m so glad you liked it, and gah–it sounds so beautiful and intriguing AND I MUST HAVE IT NOW, GIVE ME. *calms self*

    Great review!

  21. GAH I’m so glad you liked this! It gives me hope that I’ll like it too. I was pretty sure I would, but now I’m definitely sure. I’m 100% a fan of unique methods of storytelling (as long as they make sense for the narrative), so the hacked document thing really makes me geek out.

    <3 Lovely review. (:

  22. I want to read this so badly! It’s being published in the UK but only in paperback. BookDepository to the rescue: I think I’ll really want this in hardback. Soon. Soon!

  23. This is so high on my list but I need to wait a little bit. I’ll be getting it from Book Depository for my birthday (I want the hardcover, the UK paperback is incredibly floppy, so not a fan of that). Your review makes me even more excited to read it! 🙂

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