Gemina is the hotly anticipated sequel to Illuminae (see my thoughts on Illuminae here), which gained a ton of hype because of the unique formatting. You’re not reading a traditional book here. Instead, you’re reading a compilation of documents, and sometimes these documents get pretty abstract. It makes for a very interesting reading experience, but I do wonder if it hinders the story in some places. I was looking forward to Gemina since I enjoyed Illuminae so much, but I found that I just couldn’t get into it as much as its precursor. Is it because the novelty is wearing off or is it the story itself? Hard to say.
Gemina by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 18th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
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Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.
Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands. But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.
spaceship hijacking, parasitic-worm killing, and life defending
Things that I liked:
- The formatting is, of course, the biggest draw to this book. Without the formatting I don’t know if these books would be as popular as they are. Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman manage to tell a pretty compelling tale using only documents and chat room logs. (To see more photos of the formatting, check out my review for Illuminae where there are numerous photos of the neat pages!)
- At first I was sad that the main characters of this novel weren’t the same as Illuminae, but it turns out these main characters are just as fun. You’ve got Hanna Donelly, the daughter of the ship’s captain, Jackson Merrick, Hanna’s boyfriend, and Nik Malikov, a drug-dealing gang member. It makes for quite the motley crew. The best part is that you still get to bits and pieces of information from the our beloved Kady and Ezra from Illuminae throughout the book (yay!).
Things that were meh:
- Throughout the book, there are parts of the story that are told via a “vidtech” who is dictating what is occuring on a video feed. I felt like the use of the video surveillance feed was a cheap and easy way to tell the story. If the authors wanted the person who was dictating the video feed to seem realistic, they shouldn’t have had him describing things like how the shadows appeared on the ground or describing moisture dripping off of the walls. This is too literary! It should have been far more to-the-point, because in reality we’d only be interested in the essential facts. Every time I got to a video feed description in the book I was annoyed. Maybe it’s just me, but you can’t deny it was an easy way to get around the barriers they’ve imposed upon themselves by using documents as the sole form of story-telling.
- I had the same issue with Illuminae, and it’s that no matter how well the authors manage to tell these stories, the formatting makes it really difficult to become invested in the characters. I managed to care about them by the end of the book, but that was 500 pages in, and when the book is only 660 pages, that’s taking a lot of time!
- The first half of this book dragged on to no end! I read the second half of the book in one sitting, but the first half took me a week! I think a lot of video feed surveillance and chat room discussions could have been condensed considerably.
At the end of the day, I did like the book. I really liked the ending, but I considered stopping the book so many times in the beginning half that it ends up balancing out to 3 stars. I can’t decide if I’ve grown used to the formatting. While it’s still fun, it isn’t enough to make me forgive certain bits of the story.
What did you think of Gemina? Have you read Illuminae? These types of books aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy sci-fi and a unique read, then I’d definitely recommend picking it up.