Illuminae Series – Performance Masterpiece

What a team! The writing partnership between Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is flawless in the Illuminae Files – a science fiction series aimed at YAs but certainly engaging a much wider audience.

I have listened to all three books in the series and browsed the print editions. Both formats provide memorable, original and totally engaging versions with unique qualities making them separate yet complimentary entities.

This snapshot of Illuminae #1 provides some glimpses of the stunningly original presentation of the print version of the first book and summary of the plot. It is worth accessing these print versions to enrich the listening experience as you engage and read the various transcripts — not always an easy task as you can see. Penguin Random House provide further insights on the design of Gemina.

Hailey in Bookland. (2015, December 30). Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: Spoiler free review [blog post]. Retrieved from

Now a look at the audio performances in the Illuminae Files.


Listening Library draws on a full cast, harnessing multiple narrators to represent the main and major secondary characters with clear distinctions between each person, the reading of different written formats including manuscripts, court transcripts and emails, along with the memorable, mechanical, yet increasingly humanised voice of AIDEN – the Artificial Intelligence Defense Analytics Network.

The productions go well beyond ‘retelling the story’ as each volume is supported and enriched with orchestral supportĀ  along with mind blowing sound effects to capture the personalities, events, tensions and climactic moments across the series. Imagine the soundtracks of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Battle Star Galactica and Star Wars for background, and at times front-line, audio immersion. I am sure I ducked a flying bullet or dodged a spaceship in some of the battle scenes! Adding further to the musical accompaniments, there are the sound effects – sirens and alarms, blasters, explosions, collisions and gunfire, gasping breaths in a failing envirosuit and the haunting and terrifying cries of the the afflicted soles rampaging through the ship.

The Illuminea files present a record of violent and deadly events with strong language (edited but recognisable) from the ‘edited transcripts’ that provide the storylines. There are a number of gruesome scenes and sexually inferred encounters. However; strength of character, responsibility, survival, ethical choices and a driving desire to see justice done dominate throughout. The audio versions offer a unique and immersive listening experience that is quite different from reading and engaging with the multifaceted print texts – both are worth a read!

If this has caught your interest, Amie has also teamed up with Meagan Spooner in crafting the Starbound trilogy. Watch an overview of the series and look out for the audio versions of these gripping stories as well. With three narrators to represent the different lead characters, accompanied by appropriate sound effects to capture the action, environment and otherworldly anomalies, you will be taken on a voyage of discovery and adventure.

Between Chapters. (2017, March 24). Starbound trilogy: Spoiler free series review [Blog post]. Retrieved from

aurora rising

And recently released, Aurora Rising, #1 in The Aurora Cycle is also available in audio – another one for my ‘to listen’ pile!

About jenbales

Avid lover of children's literature, experienced teacher librarian with expertise in resourcing the Australian Curriculum; Adjunct lecturer for Charles Sturt University and a representative of INT Books.
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1 Response to Illuminae Series – Performance Masterpiece

  1. peterbal1l says:

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