Audio Adventures Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Rating: 5 stars!
Narrator: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain (and many, many, many more!)
Pub date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Listening Library
Length: 11 hours & 41 minutes

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 20, 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Links: see my review here

Image result for add to goodreads button

Illuminae is one of my favorite novels of all time. Full stop. It's funny. It's scary. It's thought-provoking. It's swoony. It's smart. It's so very many amazing things, all wrapped up in a creative and unique package. I LOVE the epistolary style Amie and Jay used. Illuminae is a visual pleasure, but that meant I was a bit trepidatious to give the audio a try. I wasn't sure how it would translate given that so much of the story relies on the documents and the art. HAVE NO FEAR, audio listeners! I was immediately put at ease when I started listening to the audio because of the talent of the narrators (of which there are many) and the production quality and the audio effects.

First of all, the narrators. I've always had narrator issues since usually it's one or two people performing a whole cast. Illuminae gives me what I want in a full cast! Everyone is distinct. Olivia is Kady, Johnathan is Ezra, Lincoln is AIDAN (I think?), and then all the major secondary characters—video surveillance analyst guy, Jimmy, Winifred, Syra Boll, Torrence, Byron, etc—all had their own narrators too, plus plenty of background people to make up the rest. I was never confused about who was who, and I loved the IMs and interviews where the characters interacted because it actually sounded like a conversation between two people! BRAVO! The only time I ever had an issue was when I was looking forward to a particular scene with Jimmy, but because it was "video footage," the analyst guy ended up reading that scene. That was kind of disappointing. It's a sad scene, but I wanted to hear Jimmy's narrator perform it. Overall, though, I was ridiculously impressed. Everyone wholly embodied their character.

Olivia-as-Kady was sarcastic and prickly, but then she also pulled off soft, uncertain, exhausted, and emotionally wrung-out. Johnathan-as-Ezra was earnest AND THE DRUNK EFFING EMAIL IS THE GREATEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE (it sounds particularly awesome if you slow down the speed. MAJOR lolz!). Lincoln perfectly encapsulates AIDAN's robotic AI tone, but he also manages to be superior, weirdly humorous, condescending, and even, at times, sweet (but only with Kady); plus he did a great job with the computer code and the damage AIDAN sustains (ie "<error>"). It's a masterful performance. Syra is unsure; Winifred confident yet disapproving, the Marine with a heart. Jimmy is fun and a total bro, but I adored him. Everyone did such a great job, and I also love that listeners can hear a diverse cast reading diverse characters.

Illuminae the physical book has fantastic art, as mentioned, and yes, it's sad there's no way to really translate that audibly. Like Kady's space walk across the Alexander's hull, Ezra's rose, etc. But I thought the production team did a remarkable job creating unique aspects to the audio that couldn't be replicated on the page. There are sirens and alarms, blasters and gunfire, and more. We can't see the text bounce across the page during Kady's spacewalk, but we can hear her breathing in her envirosuit. We can hear Ezra's dogfight during the second encounter with the Lincoln. We can hear the afflicted tearing through the ship. It's visceral and intense, and you feel like you're IN the story. It's absolutely engrossing in the best way. I always know I love a book when it makes me forget the real world around and I feel like I live in the story's world, and this audiobook accomplishes that better than most.

I have been championing Illuminae for over a year now, and I have always recommended people both read and listen to it. Although I love to listen to books I've read before, I know not many people double up like that. In this case, for anyone who is able, I highly recommend it. The book is phenomenal and the audio perfect, but they are both wholly unique parts that create a whole story. It's incredible, and I don't know of any other book and audiobook that can do it.

Book Links:

About the Authors:
Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of the Starbound trilogy. Jay Kristoff is the award-winning author of the Lotus War trilogy. Collectively they are 12'5" tall and live in Melbourne, Australia, with two long-suffering spouses, two rescue dogs, and a plentiful supply of caffeine. They met, thanks to international taxation law, and stuck together due to a shared love of blowing things up and breaking hearts.

Amie's Links:

Jay's Links:

One winner will receive a digital copy of the Illuminae audiobook from Audible via the Send This Book feature. Open to anyone who can receive an audiobook this way. Terms and conditions of Send This Book are listed here. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST November 1. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I haven't read this yet and now that Gemina is out, I'm missing out on a great series. I want to listen to this book and then read Gemina right away. I can listen while doing all the other life stuff (I'm not into TV so books are my entertainment).

  2. I've read the physical edition but couldn't really get into it, but a friend of mine who felt the same way when he read it, LOVED the audiobook so much more so i'm really hoping that I can get the opportunity to listen to it :)

  3. I have not read Illuminae. Actually, I'd never heard of it until I read your post. I love audiobooks... and your post is such a glowing endorsement, that now I'd like to read it!

  4. I just saw that the kindle copy is on sale for $1.99! Sometimes, that means the audible can be picked up for less... but, alas, that's not the case with Illuminae....

  5. I have not read Illuminae yet, but the audiobook has been recommended to me by so many! It's definitely on my wish list! :) Liza Wiemer - for some reason, my Google account always shows up as Unknown - and I used my blogger email to unlock the Rafflecopter. :)

  6. I haven't read this one yet, but it is a nominee for the Cybils award. As a judge, I plan to read it soon.

  7. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about this audiobook. I haven’t read Illuminae, but I plan to listen to the audiobook. I find you comment about "video footage" very interesting. You ended up disappointed because you had expectations, it happens with me every time I listen to the audiobook after I’ve read the book. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to go for the audiobook, rather than to listen to it after reading the book. Great review!

  8. I have this but I have yet to read it! I must! It sounds great!