The Illuminae Files, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Books 1 and 2 of The Illuminae Files.

If you're a reluctant reader, The Illuminae Files series is for you. Also, if you love to read, The Illuminae Files series is for you. I've read the first two books of this trilogy, Illuminae and Gemina, and am eagerly awaiting the third, Obsidio, to be published in March 2018.

On Goodreads, I gave Illuminae and Gemina five stars, which doesn't happen often. I'd say most readers gave them five stars too, since their overall ratings are crazy high. These books are good.

Reading Illuminae and Gemina is like watching a movie in print, so it makes sense that the series has been optioned by Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment. They aren't written like a traditional book. Instead, the books are files of emails, instant messages, photos, space ship designs, drawings, journal entries, after-action reports and video and audio transcripts. Maybe that sounds boring to you. Who wants to read a report? Seriously? But these reports are fun. Let me give you a taster of the first page of Illuminae (pronounced Illuminay):

So here's the file that almost killed me, Director.
I won't bore you with the tally of databases plundered, light-years jumped, or cute, sniffling orphans created in its compilation - our fee already reflects Level of Difficulty. But this dirt is out there, if you know where to look. Seems your cleanup crews weren't quite as thorough as you'd like, and your little corporate war isn't quite as secret as you'd hoped.
You'll find all intel we could unearth concerning the Kerenza disaster compiled here in hard copy. Where possible, scans of original documentation are included. Fun Times commence with the destruction of the Kerenza colony (one year ago today) and proceed chronologically through events on battlecarrier Alexander and science vessel Hypatia as best as we can reconstruct them.
All visual and audio data are included in original form, along with written transcripts. All typographical and graphical anomalies are present in the original files. Commentary from my team is marked by paper clip icons. Some written materials were censored by the UTA and had to be reconstructed by our commtechs, though profanity remains censored as per your instruction. Sure, the story kicks off with the deaths of thousands of people, but god forbid there be cussing in it, right?
The Illuminae Group

Cool, right? I was hooked from the first page, and giggled and gasped my way through both books. These are seriously clever. And tense. And fun. And exciting. I've never thought of myself as being a sci-fi fan. Honestly, the thought of outer-space with its lack of oxygen has claustrophobic me gasping for breath, but these books have converted me. Good books will do that.

I'm tossing back and forth on my reader age recommendation. Conservative me says 15, liberal me says 14. There's a lot of violence and death. Also some sexual innuendo. The swearing has been blacked out, but I still filled in the blanks as I read. So, I don't know. 14? 15? Somewhere in there.

I loved the main characters of Illuminae, Kady and Ezra, so much that at first I was disappointed when I realised Gemina featured different protagonists, Hanna and Nik. But I came to love Hanna and Nik just as much, if not more than Kady and Ezra, so now I'm excited to meet the next protagonists in Obsidio. I've learned to trust Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. These writers know what they're doing.

Last night I had the happy experience of listening to Amie Kaufman speak at the Auckland Writers' Festival and wow! She was just as good live as she is on paper. She was witty, insightful and thought-provoking. A fabulous mix.

Me (Emma Abrahams) and Amie Kaufman.

Aimee answered prepared questions for about 40 minutes and then audience questions for another 20 minutes. Not many people got up to ask questions - too shy maybe - so I took the opportunity to ask three:

1. How do you organise your writing day?
Amie spends about four hours on publicity and dealing with email correspondence, and four hours actually writing. She also likes to get out of her chair for an hour each day to exercise, for fear that otherwise she will never get out of her chair again. She prefers to write first thing in the morning, while her brain is uncluttered, but since a lot of her publishing team is based in the US, she often has lots of emails to answer when she first wakes up.

2. Do you know the entire structure and outline of your books before you start writing?
On the continuum of panster to plotter, Amie's somewhere in the middle. She calls it a "join-the-dotter." She knows about ten things that are going to happen in each book before she goes into it, and then she writes to join those dots together.

3. How did you get your first publishing deal?
Like authors everywhere, Amie sent a query letter to an agent and was lucky enough to sign one very quickly and get a book deal very quickly. (I'd say it had less to do with luck and more to do with awesome story-telling skills.)

My advice to all the people (aged 14/15 and above) is: Read The Illuminae Files. You won't be disappointed.


Popular Posts