Mix some Battlestar Galactica with a sprinkling of The Walking Dead and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you'd get this very flavorful if incredibly intense space thriller. Cowritten by Australian best-selling authors and friends Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, it features wonderful protagonists Kady and Ezra, who are believably adolescent, driven to survive, and attached to each other under unthinkably horrific circumstances. Ezra, a former star "gee-ball" player (think basketball), is imposing and quick-witted but much more trusting in authority, unless Kady is involved. Kady, on the other hand, might be physically tiny, but she's by far the fiercer of the two, willing to question what she's told and literally hack the system to uncover ugly truths about the attack, the virus, and AIDAN, the unreliable AI that will remind adult readers of 2001's HAL.
Although some readers may be tempted to skip over the various illustrations and schematic documents, don't. There's detailed information on every page, and it's worth reading (and rereading once you're done). Expect to be a bit confused at times, but don't worry -- Kaufman and Kristoff sort everything out, and your mind just might be proverbially blown in the process. The first in a projected trilogy, Illuminae is difficult to put down but occasionally difficult to read -- especially when the infected let loose and go on a bloody rampage. The authors are fairly merciless about sacrificing characters for the good of the story, but that's the only heads up you'll get. Ideal for fans of catastrophe stories and intense journeys, Illuminae is sure to appeal equally to reluctant readers and voracious ones who want the next big series.