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Literature / Enlightenment

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Enlightenment is the prequel to On The Edge Of Eureka, detailing the beginning of the dystopian Eleutheria. It's part pandemic novel, part family drama, and part darkly funny sitcom about the apocalypse. It stars Kate Davis, a socially awkward teenager with few friends and a broken family, who works for a shady federal organization known only as "the Academy." She and her- well, not exactly friends- study virology and epidemiology for the government, under very little supervision and leadership. When a new pandemic emerges, the government gives up, but Kate won't be that easy to coerce into submission.


This work includes examples of:

  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: Rebecca is treated as if she's a government dignitary instead of a school leader. That being said, this is The Academy, where students are treated as smaller and easier-to-control grownups. Based on the work Kate does, a highly prestigious position like the President is justified.
  • Adults Are Useless: Kate, Natalie, Taylor, Rich, Dana, Belle and Lucille are the only people in the lab. There is no adult present. Kate's stepfather is a drunk, her mother is neglectful, and the man in charge of "Infec Sec" is useless. The CDC and other US government facilities rely on the Academy to an extent, and are implied to be using Kate and co. as "lab rats" for diseases they don't want to deal with themselves.
    • Possibly justified by that last point. The reason no adults are present is because the kids are treated as expendable workers. Adults could be working on the projects, but that would be putting the life of someone valuable in danger. In the government's eyes, why waste important thinkers when clueless and expendable teenagers could be doing the same work for free?
  • Age-Appropriate Angst: In between Kate worrying about her scientists slowly dying of a new virus, there's Taylor and Scarlett talking about friendships, relationships and parties.
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  • Alpha Bitch: Penny, with Leila being her Beta. However, not entirely: she seems to have had a difficult home life.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Kate talks a lot about not fitting in and being a social outcaste, past the point of normal teenage angst. She is also obsessed with microorganisms..
  • Ascended Extra: Readers of the originals will note that, over time, characters like Amanda and Rachel were phased away in favor of newbies like Rebecca, Penny and Lillie Anne. Word of God states that Amanda and Rachel still exist and will have a role in the story, but a much smaller one. Meanwhile, Rebecca especially is put in the spotlight, and Penny goes from annoying high school popular girl to a full on bully.
  • Attention Whore: Sharon is definitely this, often being overdramatic and prioritizing galmour and being a socialite over her own child(ren.) Penny as well, though it's hinted it's just because of her neglectful family. To a lesser extent, Scarlett, for the same reason.
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  • Apocalypse How: Class 2 to Class 3a. Nearly all of humanity goes extinct; however, they were able to bounce back. Thousands of years later, they've created Eleutheria.
  • Arc Words: Eureka, as well as Enlightenment and other similar words (Lumenosa, illuminatearion, etc.)
  • Asexuality: Kate is ace.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Plenty of literature nerds would love to be named Anna Karenina or Cosette Esmeralda or any of the other Davis girls' names.
    • Averted with Kate: it's even made a point of how many people share her name in the first paragraph.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Subverted. Penny, Scarlett and Leila are easily described as the prettiest, but are complete bitches to Kate. Anna and Scout are pretty, but not as smart or intregal to the plot as the others. Kate and Taylor are pretty average.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Joe and Sharon openly cheat on each other, drink, stay out late and emotionally abuse their kids.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Anna (and the rest of the cousins) is blonde, Kate's a brunette and Taylor is ginger.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: The Academy is one, when you start to think about it. Kate sees it as a way to escape from her neglectful mother and stepfather and her insane family, but the place uses child labor. Kate's casual reaction to corpses and love for the deadliest diseases just show how indoctrinated she is. She, and all the other lab workers, are treated as (and actually call themselves) "expendables." And this isn't even considered abnormal. It's just how things work, and the kids don't even see it as bad. Kate enjoys every minute of it.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: The Davis triplets. Scarlett is beauty (though they're all described as pretty), Anna is brains and Scout is brawn.
  • Brainy Brunette: Kate, and according to the images, also Belle, Rich, Natalie and Lillie Anne.
    • Averted with Leila Chévron.
  • Brainless Beauty: Leila.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Many times, along with Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking.
    Scout: That's the point of Armageddon, Anna! You start riots, shoot zombies, eat beans!
  • Carload of Cool Kids: Penny, Leila and Scar travel around like this.
  • Cheerful Child: Cosette Davis.
  • Cool Car: Kate's mom's Mercedes, her stepfather's truck, Penny's family's arsenal of sports cars...
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Penny and her family go to great lengths to really hammer in the idea that they're rich, including excessive luxury cars, all-designer clothes every day, wearing diamond and gold jewels everywhere...
    • Averted with Kate: we see in a bonus story that, even at 10, she was frustrated with her life, antisocial and disliked by her peers.
  • Color-Coded Patrician: A downplayed example. Kate wears white quite often, usually in the form of lab coats, showing her status as the unchallenged smartest. Penny also wears white, showing hers as the unchallenged most popular Rich Bitch.
  • Crapsack World: The government has given up on its people by chapter 4.
  • Creepy Child: Kate is 16, but the other lab workers are in their early teens. They could fit this due to their carefree joking about how expendable they are, how quickly they expect to die, and their casual conversation over corpses.Especially when Kate threatens to stab the next person who calls her Kitty with an infected knife. Sure, she was joking, but does that really make it any better?
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kate.
    Scarlett: I thought the end of days wasn't supposed to happen until next week.
    Kate: Right, let me just mark that down on my calendar. 'Sorry, Satan, I have a dentist appointment on Tuesday. We're going to have to move [the apocalypse] up.'
  • Demoted to Extra: Rachel and Amanda were prominent characters in the original, but have yet to appear in Enlightenment's latest iteration.
    • It's justified, though: Rachel was a Cloudcuckoolander who provided the comedy and Amanda one of Scarlett's sweeter public-school friends. Rachel became something of a base-breaking character, and according to the author, her comedic nature didn't fit the bleakness of a story about the apocalypse. Amanda just wasn't needed, and given Scar's personality, her associating with normal middle-class people is unlikely.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Most girls' reactions when they come across Timothy Davis. Leila acts like an airhead, Lillie Anne at least has a crush on him, and in a funny subversion, Rebecca finds his computers fascinating.
  • Elaborate University High: The Academy, naturally, though its priorities aren't necessarily education...
  • Embarrassing Nickname:Played with. People call Kate "Kitty" in a mocking way, and Kitty would normally be a totally acceptable nickname for someone named Katherine. However, Kate associates it with her grade school bullies and her drunken stepfather, making it embarrassing to be called Kitty for her.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: The Davises have blue eyes.
  • Fangirl: Taylor McLean. She writes fan fiction shipping together characters who have never met and has cried at Mystery Science Theatre 3000.
    Lucille: ...I didn't know they had sad episodes.
    Kate: You're right, and they don't.
  • Fashion Designer: Scarlett.
  • First-Name Basis: Joe is just Joe. Not Uncle Joe, not Dad. Just Joe.
  • Five-Man Band: The Davis cousins. Anna's The Leader, Scarlett's The Lancer and Anna's opposite, Tim's The Smart Guy, Scout's The Big Guy, Cosette's The Heart.
  • For Science!: Literally everything Kate does, all the time.
  • Free-Range Children: Enlightenment starts with teenagers doing an autopsy on a (probably) smallpox-infected corpse. Where are their parents? In the case of the main characters, either dead, drunk or don't care.
  • Flat "What": Kate when Agent Seymour tells her the world is ending, and they're not going to try and save the people with conventional methods- rather, they're going to save the smartest, richest and most powerful, and leave everyone else to die, in the hopes that the "best" will be able to build a better world.
  • Four-Girl Ensemble: The Davis girls. Cosette is the naive one, Scout is the tomboy, Scarlett's the sexy one and Anna's the admirable Team Mom. Kate is the most snarky, but close sisterly relationships really aren't her thing.
  • Girl Posse: Penny, Leila and Scarlett, in that order.
  • Hidden Depths: Nearly everyone.
    • Kate: creepy scientist, or a depressed teenager who throws herself into her work because she believes it's the only way she'll ever been anyone important? She also might have a variety of Ambigious Disorders, is a social outcaste, and is neglected by her family.
    • Anna's overly pretentious and motherly attitude is a side effect of her trying to be a mother to Cosette, her little sister. They're both orphans, and Anna's still grieving over their parents death.
    • Scout acts so lazy and bored all the time because every one of her siblings is successful in some way, while she has no specialities.
    • Scarlett acts like an Attention Whore because she needs validation- her pseudo-parents are neglectful, the rest of her family is embarrassing and weird, and Anna is heavily implied to be her real parents' favorite child anyway. She surrounds herself with shallow people because she knows they'll always fawn over her as long as she remains pretty, attractive and wealthy.
    • Penny, for much of the same reasons as above. Her mother is a Black Widow who's murdered at least 13 husbands and ships her daughter off to boarding school and luxury summer camps because she doesn't want to bother actually raising a child. Thus, Penny bullies people because it's the only way she knows how to make people respect or care about her.
    • Taylor never hangs out with Kate outside lab because she feels constantly overshadowed.
    • Sharon neglects Kate and the Davis siblings because they remind her of her implied Teen Pregnancy and now-dead first husband. (This could be played two ways: either she truly loved him and is upset at his death, or was abused by him and dislikes reminders of him anywhere. Based on the constant undertones of the Crap Saccharine world of the Idle Rich, the latter seems more likely.)
  • High School Hustler: Nearly everyone in some way. Scarlett and her friends run circles around authority figures and party like college kids, while Kate does the same, but for rather different reasons.
  • High School Rocks: Played with. For Penny, it's life at a chic boarding school where she's the Alpha Bitch and everyone's dream girl. For Scarlett, it's a way for her to show off her talents and hang out with other rich kids away from her embarassing and sometimes abusive family. For Kate, it's a mix- she gets to do the work she adores, but at the same time, the experience is marred by mean girls, obnoxious and immature kids, and shady CIA operatives.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: Everyone, but mostly Taylor and Scarlett.
  • Idle Rich: Sharon Davis is an heiress and a housewife, but most of the actual cooking, cleaning and child-rearing is done by the kids (mostly Anna.) Joe is some sort of businessman, but his business seems limited to extravagant trips to other countries where verylittle actually gets done.
    • To a lesser extent, some of the kids. Scarlett and Scout really don't do much outside of partying and socializing.
  • Idiot Savant: In a way, Kate; she's hopeless at anything related to socializing. When she has to make a speech, she just sounds like a moron. When she has to talk to people, she comes across as cold and uncaring. She's awful at sports, music, and getting along with people. The only thing she's good at is academics, and holy hell is she incredible at academics. She works full-time in a lab alongside adult members of the CDC, is entrusted with diseases from Ebola to smallpox, speaks many languages despite not even being raised in a bilingual family, and can calculate trigonometry problems in her head. But ask her to talk to a peer like a normal person, and she'll sound completely clueless and inept.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Averted. Taylor and Kate are considered geniuses: Taylor has a realistic IQ of 118, which is above-average but still not outlandish. Kate is brilliant with an IQ of "150-something," which is very above average but not impossible- Einstein's was 160.
  • In-Series Nickname: Katherine is Kate (and she gets pissed if you call her Kathy, Katie, or god-forbid Kitty.) Jean-Louise goes by Scout, even though she's never read the book, and Timothy by Tim.
    Kate: The next person to call me 'Kitty" gets stabbed with this infected scalpel.
    • The sectors of ANEP, too. In all the tie-in stuff, they have nicknames: The Infectious Disease Sector is InfecSec, which is a division of the Medical Sector (MedSec) which is a division of the Biology sector (BioSec) which is a division of the Science sector (SciSec.)
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Her intelligence isn't the only cause of Kate's isolation, but it's part of it. Either way, she's a Teen Genius with no friends, a family that (for the most part) doesn't care about or worry about her, and a nonexistent social life. She, in her own words, can relate more to deadly bioweapons than actual people.
    • Averted with Taylor. Like Kate, she's a science whiz, but she's peppy, bubbly (even in times of stress) and has a thriving friend group, consisting of many Internet friends, all of the lab workers, many others, and Lillie Anne.
  • Just Before the End: The book begins a few days before the apocalypse does.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: From Tigris, Enlightenment and all of the extra material: Katherine, Taylor, Anna, Scout, Scarlett, Cosette, Tim, Penny, Leila, Lillie Anne, Natalie, Rich, Joe, Sharon, Dana, Belle, Lucille, Rachel, Amanda, and Pi.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Kate is rich, and completely isolated. Her money isn't the root of it, though.
  • Mildly Military: In a promo image, Penny and Leila are dressed up in Lolita-esque navy-inspired dresses, complete with cute little anchor hair bobbles. Penny has the most ditzy expression, and the caption indicates that she thinks life in the navy is dressing up in cute nautical clothes and looking attractive.
  • No Social Skills: Kate is completely inept at talking to others, empathizing or relating to them. This is even more pronounced in Tigris, when she finds she can't even cry when the world is ending and her friends are being sent to what might be their doom. She tries to give a speech, and fails miserably- not because she's emotional, but she's just that bad at it.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: Enlightenment takes place someplace around 2020.
  • Newspeak: The names of various parts of ANEP invoke this. "InfecSec" and "PolitiSec" come to mind.
  • Not Good with People: Kate is great with viruses. She actually loves them. People, on the other hand...
  • Promoted to Parent: Pretty much all of the Davis-Mc Lean kids to those younger than them. Kate is a driving force in keeping the family together, and prevents everyone else from getting into trouble with Joe. Anna is maternal towards everyone, but especially Cosette, and takes on the role of the responsible adult. Tim is a mentor for Kate and his sisters, and everyone raises Cosette collectively.
  • Parental Neglect: Sharon and Joe could not care less about what happens to their children.
  • Rich Bitch: Penny, Leila, and to a lesser extent, Scarlett.
    • Averted with the rest of the Davises, who clearly have money (Sharon is an heiress, Joe is a millionaire playboy, they live in a massive house big enough to have at least seven bedrooms) but don't rub it in people's faces. Maybe it's because the rest of their lives is so awful.
  • Running Gag: Scarlett citing classic literature without having any idea what she's talking about.
    • From Tigris:
    Scarlett: I want to be like Daisy Buchanan. Gorgeous, impossibly rich and sought-after-
    Kate: You beautiful little fool.
    —>Scarlett: What?
    —>Kate:... you never read the book, did you?
    Scarlett (snorting): No.
  • Science Is Bad: Played with, but ultimately averted. The themes of both Enlightenment and Eureka focus on science's applications and what the people who use it choose to do with it, not the technology itself being inherently good or evil.
  • Science Hero: Everything Kate does is for science. Everything.
  • Self-Fanservice: Canon Kate is an acne-ridden, socially awkward teenager with a lot of personal issues involving the ethics of her career and the dilapidated mess of a family she belongs to. Fanon Kate is The Ace: nerdy but pretty and much more well-adjusted.
  • Shout-Out: Mostly to the books the girls are named after. Joe murmers "so stupid, the shit we do," when discussing Cosette.
  • Socialite: The majority of the cast are upper-class teenagers, but Scarlett, Penny and Leila really fit this.
  • Synthetic Plague: Tigris may or may not be one, but it's implied that it was at least partially modified by humans.
  • Tagalong Kid: Cosette.
  • Teen Drama: Something Kate has no time for. Scarlett and Scout especially are primarily concerned with boys and parties and videogames (respectively) but at the end of the day, none of those issues actually matter compared to the bigger problems- Kate and Taylor dealing with mutant viruses, Anna having to take nearly full responsibility over an eight-year-old child, and, of course, the looming apocalypse.
  • Teen Genius: Kate, Taylor, and everyone else at ANEP.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Implied to be why Sharon even married James Davis in the first place. If it wasn't a teen pregnancy, it was at least an accidental one that occurred in her very early 20s- she's supposed to be late 30s in the book, and Kate is 16. Kate even brings it up herself: she wanted to believe that her father and mother were Star-Crossed Lovers split by tragedy, but she knows that upper-class relationships usually aren't ever like that, and her own birth was probably an accident.
  • Tender Tears: Taylor is extremely prone to this.
  • The Ditz: Leila. The author says she's the only one truly happy with her life, because she's too stupid to be upset by it.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Sort of. Kate is brilliant but a social outcast, and everyone outside her family/lab team think she's weird and creepy. Taylor is attractive, smart but nowhere near Kate's level, and a social butterfly. However, they do get along quite well, encouraging each other- Taylor says Kate is lucky because she's a genius, and Kate says Taylor is lucky because she's so likable.
    • The triplets to an extent, too. Anna is more intellectual and definitely the most mature, while Scarlett is a party girl and more promiscuous and outgoing. Meanwhile, Scout is lazy and doesn't try in school- or, really, much of anything outside video games. They're all described by Kate as beautiful, but Scout tries to hide it, Anna is more cute and Scarlett tries to be sexy (it comes off as cringeworthy to Kate.)
  • Theme Naming: It's a Karen Eliza Anne book. Naturally, it has this in spades.
    • The Davis siblings are as follows: Anna Karenina, Scarlett, Jean-Louise "Scout," Timothy Finn and Cosette Esmeralda. Any of those sound familiar?
    • Light, and words relating to it, are used as symbols for when something is hiding something. The "Great Elders" are called Luminosa in the sequel, Kate and Dalia both seek "enlightenment" for their family/their people, there's a chapter called Illuminate and a side novella or novel rumored to be called Illuminatarion, etc.
  • The Ditz: Leila. She's the only one happy with her life, because she's too dumb to realize how hollow it is.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Ultimately, what the Tigiris virus is.
  • The Illuminati: With the frequency the words "luminous," "illuminating," "enlightened" and "brilliant" are used, combined with the New World Order mentality of the government, this comes to mind quite a lot.
  • The Plague: The Tigris virus.
  • The Smurfette Principle: A rare inversion: Joe, Rich and Tim are the only males.
    • You can see this in Eureka too: Ace, Atlas, TB, Cadé and Tee were the only men in the main cast. Tee dies in chapter 7, and TB is a villain, which leaves Ace, Atlas and Cadé. Possibly justified by this being a world where the genders are kept apart, generally.
  • The Un-Favourite: Scout is Joe's unfavorite. He's threatened to send her to "troubled teen camps" or military school multiple times. He also dislikes Kate, but not as much as Scout.
  • Title Drop: You know some symbolism/connections/conspiracies are about to go down when the books make references to one another. Most notably, Raeilya calls Dalia "an enlightened one" in Eureka, and Kate says she feels like the's "on the edge of something incredible."
  • Token Mini-Moe: Cosette is notably the youngest.
  • Trophy Wife: Sharon to Joe. She's in her late 30s or early 40s when the book begins, and has evidently lost her youthfulness (or just doesn't live up to Joe's standards) so they're constantly cheating on each other with much younger men and women.
  • Underground City: The apocalypse bunker is implied to be one.
  • Wild Teen Party: Free-Range Children of the Idle Rich are everywhere. Naturally, when you and your friends all own massive mansions, have staff to clean up whatever mess you make, and have parents who are either away on business or don't care, this is what happens. Kate isn't a fan of them, but Scarlett and Scout attend them a lot (presumably because Scar's a socialite and Scout likes drunken shenanigans.)


Example of: