Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) – Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Published October 20th 2016 by Rock the Boat (first published October 18th 2016)
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Journal illustrations by: Marie Lu
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young adult, Sc-fi, Thriller
Pages: 659
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Opening line:

“…over seven hundred thousand employees across dozens of colonized worlds. Is it that difficult to believe?”

Goodreads synopsis:

Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter and Nik Malikov is the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. Together they struggle with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, blissfully unaware that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall with news of the Kerenza invasion.

Picking up about five minutes after Illuminae ends, Gemina is the electrifying sequel to the hottest YA novel of 2015.

My review

Since this book is the second in the series, and begins just moments after the first book ends, I’d suggest reading my review of Illuminae first. I’ve just re-read my review, and I know I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted to. With Gemina, my faith was restored in the form and genre.

It took me a while to get round to reading this book after my disappointing experience with the first one, but towards the end of 2017 I picked it up during a moment of ‘what on earth do I read next?’ and this was sat on my bedside table, so I grabbed it, and just started reading.

The trouble with the first book was largely down to the sci-fi genre and the terminology they use, but I found this time I was slipping back into it after having been familiar with it before, so that wasn’t a problem. I’d actually missed it, somehow.

We have a different set of characters, and a slightly different plot which is caused by the events of the previous book. The main characters in this one are Hanna Donnelly, daughter of the ships captain, and (at first) a bit of a spoiled daddy’s girl, and Nik Malikov, who is a member of a crime family, and Hanna’s ex.

The previous book took place on the ship Hypatia, which is heading towards this ship, Heimdall. The ship is taken over by a group of people led by a guy called Travis Falk, who is basically the bad guy. The book then becomes a quest to save them from killing everyone on the ship and ruining everything. I can’t really go into the details of why or how this happened, because I wasn’t so sure myself at the start but I just went with it. We have a good cast of characters and they make the entire book (over 600 pages of it!) really fun. Yes, they make death, fights, survival, and jeopardy FUN.

The form is pretty much the same as the last book, and the story is told through various documents, surveillance footage summaries, instant messages, journal sketches, strange poetic space pages, where the words follow the path of the character they’re describing.

img_4917 There was a lot more instant messaging in this one, between more characters. We had group chats, and my favourite of these were between Hanna, Nik and Nik’s cousin, Ella Malikova who is known in chat rooms as Pauchok. She is disabled due to illness, and spends all her time at her computer hacking her way through the book and getting Hanna and Nik out of near-death situations. She’s a key character and I love her.

There’s a huge plot twist. I didn’t see it coming and it actually blew my mind and I couldn’t stop reading. It made this book a better reading experience, but also I think after returning to the series, I appreciated the first one more, too. But I much much prefer Gemina. And I can’t wait for more from this series.

My reading of this book would be described as coming to it each time with a hunger and addiction for the story, characters and form, then eating it all up and just when I think I’m full, I can’t help myself and I keep eating because it won’t let me stop. Maybe I was kind of like the weird alien predators who are also aboard the ship, did I forget to mention them?

It’s a great book, made me love the series more, and gave me the reading experience I look for in thrillers, but with a lot more fun.

The next book in the Illuminae series, Obsidio, will be published in hardback on March 13 2018, by Knopf books.

Link to the book on Goodreads: Gemina

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