If you take some of the more famous bits that include humans from 2001: Space Odyssey, add a probably evil corporation out to destroy everyone and everything the main characters hold dear, a deadly zombie-like virus, and two main characters who are teenagers who have just broken up at the beginning of all the trouble, you have the basic premise of Illuminae (The Illuminae Files_01). If you know the basic types just noted, then you know the characters and the narrative already for the most part.
What keeps the whole thing from getting dull is the style, or rather styles. The whole novel is presented as an investigative dossier trying to piece together what happened in the not too distant past (revealed in the first page or two so no spoilers there), and it takes on a variety of component elements, including memos, online chats, transcripts of videos and other recordings, etc. Since the characters speaking at a given time don’t know what’s going on or why, this works out pretty well for the most part, and it helps with suspense. There are a lot of characters in several different places having different information and authority all trying to figure out what to do and what’s happening or just happened
What works a bit less well is once HAL, I mean AIDAN is introduced, its bits sometimes turn into trying to chase the text all over the page in shapes, or obviously philosophizing from the AI. This gets really old really fast since these parts are not only repetitive most of the time, they also don’t add much of anything new or interesting to either the characters or the situation. The whole “who is really the villain or the problem?” is not especially interesting because AIDAN keeps insisting it’s acting for the best but even once a certain key character is convinced to at least go along with it, the actual motive behind why AIDAN is probably dangerous and why it did certain very horrific things early on are never well explained from anyone’s perspective. Maybe this comes up in a sequel in a more concrete way, but by the end of the novel, that was still unclear to me which also meant that said key character’s belief in AIDAN and AIDAN’s apparent humanization/emotional growth just doesn’t work out.
I did like the twist at the end with a reveal about something behind the dossier’s construction, although I did see part of it coming, the part I hadn’t was good. I’d almost be interested enough about that to get a hold of the sequels; almost but not quite.