Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Illuminae Audio

Illuminae Audio

Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Unabridged audiobook (CD)
Performed/read by: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, and Johnathan McClain
Listening Library , 2015   ISBN: 978-1101916629

On the day that it all begins Kary decides that instead of taking the tube to and from school she will borrow her mother’s truck. She has just broken up with her boyfriend Ezra and would rather not have to spend time with him in an enclosed space underground. She never imagines that her decision not to take the tube will end up saving both their lives.

The first indication the high schoolers get that something might be amiss is when ships fly overhead and the school windows start shaking. Kary does not think that the ships are hostile at first and then the sirens go off. Missiles start exploding and people start screaming and panicking. Kary makes it to her truck and at the same time Ezra decides that going to the tube would be a bad idea, so he ends up in the school parking lot. Which is where he sees Kary. Though the teenagers are not on the friendliest of terms, Kary agrees to let Ezra come with her. After all, their home planet, Kerenza (which is an illegal mining settlement) is being attacked by BeiTech warships and this is not the time to think about breakups.

When a building falls on the truck, Ezra and Kary go their separate ways. Ezra is shot by BeiTech troops and Kary is the one who comes and rescues him. Because Ezra is injured he is evacuated on a shuttle with all the other wounded and Kary ends up on a different vessel.

Twenty-four hours later three vessels are heading away from Kerenza. One is Alexander, the United Terran Authority battlecarrier, and then there is the science vessel Hypatia and the heavy freighter Copernicus. Alexander’s jump gate generator has been damaged so the three ships are going to have to travel to the Jump Station Heimdall, which is almost seven months journey from their current location. From there they will be able to get to the Core system.

In addition, the Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network (AIDAN) on board the Alexander has also been damaged. AIDAN controls many “vital shipboard functions” so life could be tough for a while. Just to add to what is already a difficult situation, the three ships, all of which are carrying more people than they are supposed to, are being pursued by a BeiTech dreadnought called the Lincoln. Kerenza’s survivors are going to have to do their part to keep their ships operational, and this includes the teenager passengers.

Once he has healed from his injuries, Ezra starts training to be a Cylon pilot. Because of her uncooperative and argumentative attitude Kary is considered unfit to serve in any vital capacity and she is given what amounts to a desk job.

Six months out strange things start to happen. Ezra is out training with some other pilots when AIDAN gives them the order to attack the Copernicus. When the officer in charge of the pilots tells AIDAN to connect him with General Torrence on the Alexander, AIDAN refuses to do so. Shuttles start leaving the Copernicus and then nuclear missiles from Alexander fly past and blown the Copernicus to smithereens. Then AIDAN tells the Cylon pilots to intercept the shuttles and destroy them.

In the end the pilots refuse to follow orders. They escort the shuttles back to the Alexander and the people on board are quarantined in a hold. Apparently disease broke out on the Copernicus and AIDAN decided to remove the threat, which is beyond his prevue. Following the destruction of the Copernicus, the leaders of the fleet tell the civilian travelers on the three vessels that the Lincoln, fired on the Copernicus. It is felt that they are better off not knowing the truth, and they are better off not knowing that a disease broke out on the freighter. AIDAN is quietly taken offline so that technicians can try to understand why he behaved the way he did. Ezra and his fellow pilots are court martialed and the officers in charge of the group are shot. Ezra is thankfully left alone because he was only doing what he was told. Both Ezra, on the Alexander, and Kady, on the Hypatia, desperately try to understand what is going on. Why are they being lied too at every turn, and who is really in control of the situation?

This remarkable story is told using a series of official records and memos, recorded and messaged conversations, emails, and other documents. Listeners will soon come to feel that they are witnesses to what is taking place in the narrative; helpless witnesses who can do nothing to assist Ezra and Kady, who are trapped in a horrific situation.

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