By Author / Illustrator
Usborne Publishing Ltd
Paperback / softback
Ash Yang dreamed of being a starfighter pilot. But when she crashes out of her final test - literally - she somehow lands the most powerful job in the universe. As Guardian of the Infinity Files she must secretly planet-hop through the galaxies, stealing or returning treasures that have the power to stop wars...or start them. But when her home planet is the one at war, can she use her new skills to save it?
I've not read much sci-fi, not because I don't like it exactly, more because there are so many fabulous books and given a choice I never really strayed into the genre. Not such a promising start for a review of a sci-fi book I hear you cry but bear with, I really enjoyed The Infinity Files. I mean, really enjoyed it! I was just letting you know where I was coming from, in case you, like me (who never consciously avoided sci-fi but nevertheless never found it in my hands!) weren't a frequent sci-fi reader. But you can't ignore lines like this, 'The Library filters information - some might call it a semi-sentient being.'...admit it, you need to know more don't you? So, put on your flight suit and strap yourself into your Fighter because you do not want to miss this!
Ash is top of her class. We meet her in the midst of her final assessment; so close to fulfilling her one ambition, her dream of becoming a Star Corporation Fighter Pilot. A way to escape her dusty village on Astoria and defend and protect her planet. But, acting on instinct, reacting to an unexpected situation in her final pilot exam, Ash unwittingly fails the test; simultaneously finishing her career at the Academy and sealing her fate...as the Guardian. How had it come to this? And what exactly is the Guardian?
Here's where we're introduced to the Library. Or more precisely, the Library at the End of the Universe. Home of the Infinity Files and the endearing (and frustrating) and enigmatic Orius. Ash's new position. In an environment more technologically advanced than even the Academy, Ash is tasked with retrieving, protecting and ultimately returning, artefacts precious and integral to different civilisations throughout the known (and unknown) universe. She is now the Guardian of 'treasures that have the power to stop wars...or start them.'
So that's the scantest of outlines to the Infinity Files. What do you think so far? Good, eh! Once you've read the book we can talk about attitudes towards revenge - Ash's driving force behind her determination to become a Fighter Pilot; the importance of connection, of friendships (after lockdowns 1, 2, 3 etc we all have something to say); of trust. We can discuss power, the abuses of it. The preservation of the past. We can discuss the value of the Library (and of museums if we decide to) - who are the real masters of the Library? Who decides when the time to retrieve an artefact or the time to return an artefact is right? If we have time we can list the similarities of the wildly different galaxies Ash visits; empathy and sacrifice...we might even return to the importance of friendships, and power. Always power. And the abuse of it. That's more than enough discussion topics to keep us busy! One last one: 'I need some help from a Friend...' What will Ash face next?
416 pages / Reviewed by Catherine Purcell, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+
In The Infinity Files, we meet Ash Yang, a trainee fighter pilot, trying out for the only available place in the Star Corporation Academy. She has been preparing and studying for this moment for years and is determined to succeed. War has been raging in the solar system against the planet of Corinez for hundreds of years, and the Academy is a training centre for those planets allied against it. As this novel begins, Ash is taking her final pilot test, but when things go wrong Ash fails her pilot test fears she will have to leave the Academy.
Instead, she is told that she is going to be sent to a little-known region, Kobi 12, where she will be based in a Library. When Ash arrives there, she meets Orius, a hologrammatic man who tells her that the Library at the End of the Universe houses the Infinity Files, a collection of ancient artefacts. The items come from across the galaxies and each signifies a specific turning pint in time. Orius is the Keeper, and Ash will now become the Guardian. Her job will be to visit other planets and solar systems across the galaxies. Sometimes she will have to retrieve an artefact, sometimes her job will be to return one. And so Ash’s extraordinary adventures begin.
We follow her as, with the help of a bangle which allows her to transport to different places, she sets out on a series of missions to replace and retrieve artefacts. Things change when she is tasked with visiting U62, a planet previously thought to be dead. There she comes into contact with Aldus Dexter, a former Guardian who is now plotting to take over the entire Universe.
This is a well-written and extremely exciting science fiction novel. Ash is a great character, intelligent and brave and with a strong desire to do good. She wants to avenge her sister and parents, who have all perished as a result of the war. The story is complex, but very readable. The descriptions of androids and humans working alongside each other are thought provoking, and the new technology described does not seem too far-fetched. The author’s depiction of the future is totally believable. I particularly love the concept that, in a futuristic world, a Library is in control and chooses the missions Ash must complete.
The author brings the story to an exciting and satisfying conclusion and I am delighted to see that a sequel is in the offing!
416 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Beverley Somerset, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 11+