Book Review: “The Illuminae Files” Series

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With a layout unlike any other book I have read, the “The Illuminae Files” series hooked me, leaving me wanting to know what happens next. (Photo/Kayla Rubenstein)

When I sit down to read something not required for school, I like to escape: from school, from responsibilities, from the growing pile of clothes on “the chair” that I need to hang back up. Two Christmases ago, I received the first book in the “The Illuminae Files” series, written by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I figured now that the PSAT no longer dominated all my free time, it was time to read the 602-page book. Little did I know picking up this book would lead to my finishing the entire series in two days, desperate to devour the words on the page. 

Set from 2575 to 2576, the plot of the first book, “Illuminae,” follows exes Kady and Ezra, whose fictional planet Kerenza was invaded by the antagonist of the series, BeiTech. Running away from one of BeiTech’s ships determined to eradicate evidence of what the company did by attacking the survivors, Kady and Ezra find themselves the unlikely heroes who must save the thousands of refugees while battling mutiny and a murderous artificial intelligence (A.I.) system, AIDAN. 

Book two, “Gemina,” is set at the same time as “Illuminae,” except on the station the survivors of book one are heading towards. Not unlike the first book, “Gemina” features a teenage male and female protagonist with a rocky past. Hannah Donnelly, the privileged daughter of the captain of the station, and Nik Markov, a reluctant member of his family’s mafia, must come together to defeat an invading enemy. 

After the characters from book one and two meet at the end of “Gemina,” book three, “Obsidio,” picks up with the group travelling back to Kerenza. As BeiTech closes in, the characters and two new main characters face the biggest threat of this series. In the explosive conclusion, the plight for justice comes to an end as secrets become unveiled and enemies faced. 

A defining element of the “the Illuminae Files” series lies in the unique layout of the story. Told through media such as classified reports, diary entries and video transcripts, this series keeps readers anticipating which layout will present what content next. 

As for the story itself, Kaufman and Kristoff masterfully demonstrate the characters’ developments, especially that of AIDAN. The authors make a murderous, trigger-happy A.I. one of the most beloved characters through its relationship with Kady. With witty one-liners and thought-provoking concepts, such as the definition of mercy, AIDAN has readers both rooting against and crying for it. 

Through the use of a different style of laying out the story and character development worthy of an AP Literature-level dissection, the “the Illuminae Files” series will take readers on a journey through space on the future and an escape from reality. 

As a junior, Kayla Rubenstein spends her third year on staff as Assistant Online Editor in Chief and Business Manager of iPatriot Post and the Patriot Post, respectively. Outside room 9114, Kayla acts as the co-historian of NHS and as a member of Quill and Scroll, EHS and SNHS. Kayla spends her free time making travel plans for the future, bugging her younger brother and binge watching Criminal Minds. Additionally, Kayla loves to read and often writes book reviews to release the mix of emotions most books give her. However, don’t ask Kayla what her favorite book is; she’ll give you an hour-long breakdown of her top reads in each genre.

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