Book Review – Gemina

Title: Gemina: The Illuminae Files _02
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: October 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like It

51qhtzfrfgl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Synopsis:

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 saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s spoiled daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while they 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 team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the crew one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum may 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 in the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Briefing note: Told through a compelling dossier of found documents—and featuring guest journal illustrations by bestselling author Marie Lu—Gemina hurls readers into an enthralling new episode that will leave them breathless.

“You might get only one shot. So shoot.” p. 494

If you missed my review of the first book in the series, Illuminae, you can find it here.

As was completely expected, Gemina was a rollercoaster and I was hanging on tightly to discover the end. This second installment of the Illuminae Files takes place at the space station Heimdall that Hypatia and all the people aboard have been fighting to reach the whole last book. The story opens just before a station-wide celebration of a holiday. Cue Hanna, the spoiled station captain’s daughter who will stop at nothing to get her way. She’s planning the perfect expensive outfit for the perfect date with her boyfriend to the big celebration at the station. Until suddenly the station is ambushed by BeiTech. Suddenly people are dying left and right, and she is cut off from her boyfriend. The only people able to team up with Hanna to save their station are two cousins from a criminal gang. About two thirds of the way through the book, the crew on Hypatia are able to make contact with the space station and both discover themselves in a nearly impossible phenomenon that has caused two alternate universes to merge as one. Not only do Hanna and her team need to save their space station from their invaders, but now they also need to team up with the crew from Hypatia to save their universe from collapsing.

Of course the whole book is filled with strategic ass-kicking and grotesque deaths, because what else would you expect from Kaufman and Kristoff? A cool aspect that separates this book from the previous is the illustrations by Marie Lu. Hanna is a creative thinker and best processes things by doodling in her journal. Many of her journal pages throughout the invasion are included with the files and allow for the reader to connect with her and other characters on a deeper level. I love this addition to the storytelling. My favorite aspect of Gemina, though, was the amount of character growth developed throughout this intense reading experience. Each of the characters (at least the ones that outlived others longer) where fully fleshed out and came out the other end as a changed person. It made me root for the characters even more.

Gemina follows Illuminae as one of my favorite reads this year. Kaufman and Kristoff have this habit of ripping your beating heart out of your chest, crushing it, inflating it with a breath of hope, repeating this a couple times, and then shoving your heart back into your chest, filling you with every emotion in the book. Now dump some delightful romance into the madness that will warm up that very heart that is going through so much turmoil. I anxiously await the third and final installment with bated breath.

Book Review – Illuminae

Title: Illuminae: The Illuminae Flies _01
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: January 2015
Genre: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Rating: 5 Stars
Cover: Like it

51vpagsvayl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Synopsis:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do today. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival mega-corporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, exes Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto the evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But the warship is the least of their problems. A deadly plague bas broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results. The fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what the fuck is going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Briefing note: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

This is my first read by either of these authors, though I have the beautiful UK edition of Nevernight by Jay Kristoff on my shelf to read and I’ve already preordered the second book in the Illuminae series. After finishing this book, I will keep an even closer eye on these authors and their work.

Illuminae is the most engaging book I’ve read in a while. I thoroughly enjoyed the formatting of the text, using files, footage, and communications between ships. It felt like I was reading a real case file on an incident. Black pages are used for Kady’s diary entries and for the Artificial Intelligence’s, AIDIN, readings. Words dance across the pages in twists to illustrate the Cyclone ships flight paths, or to create a picture of the ships at war. Some words break to pieces to show a life lost during battle. I took extra long to read each page as the digital aspects through the illustrations mesmerized me, completely engaging me in the plot line. My only frustration with the format of the book was that I was constantly leaving fingerprint smudges on the black pages. When I complained about this to my boyfriend, he told me I should just buy two copies of every book—one to read and one to stay pretty looking. A girl can dream, can’t she?

Disclaimer as I move into the plot: PEOPLE DIE. So many people die. Three ships are able to escape the Kerenza colony when it is attacked by Bio-Tech. Though the ships suffer damages from the battle, they are able to save thousands of civilians and make headway as they escape the only Bio-Tech ship left standing, Lincoln. Before long, however, they are faced with troubles among their own fleet, including a plague that causes severe paranoia and their AI—which is programmed to protect them—suddenly and inexplicably killing their own people. The violence is not for the faint of heart. The hardest death for me in the whole book was the hardest one for Kady. I could almost hear the sound of my heart breaking and sinking into my stomach.

Kady is one of my favorite characters I’ve read. She is determined, feisty, and refuses to sit down and do nothing. Even AIDIN is charmed by her: “She tosses lank hair from her eyes. Eyes narrowed to knife cuts. Refusing to kneel. To break. To fall. I can see why they loved her” (p 548). She will not let the truth be hidden, but instead fights for knowledge through hacking into documents and even escaping one ship to help another. While rule-breaking never should be encouraged, Kady’s spunk and struggle for the truth to be known universally is admirable. We need more women like her in America today.

While Kady is primarily preoccupied in her illegal hunt, a part of her is preoccupied with her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Ezra. The morning before their home was invaded, she had broken up with him, much to his dismay. However, since he is on a separate ship than her, he has access to information she needs. She finally breaks the silence and starts to work with him. It is apparent he is still smitten by her when he continues to send her cheesy love poems in the shape of hearts and roses (insert eye roll) and tells her sweet encouragements like this (insert melting of my heart):

“Mason, E, LT 2nd: you have me
Mason, E, LT 2nd: until the last star in the galaxy dies
Mason, E, LT 2nd: you have me” (p 232).

While their relationship does not take up the whole plot line, it plays a big part. It’s encouraging to see people fight for each other in the midst of chaos, and to chose to work out their issues instead of ultimately running away.

The amount of twists revealed in Illuminae are innumerable. I constantly found myself gasping in shock at new information or even the shear brutality of everything. This book is well advertised by the line “Am I not merciful?” (p 307), but once I actually got to that part, I was completely horrified by what it meant. Once again, this book is not for the faint of heart. Every twist and turn provided more shocks, more horror, and hope was constantly handed to me and then ripped away. This book was so engaging, I’d think about it even when I wasn’t reading it. It is gripping and perfectly descriptive. I am counting down the days until book #2 hits the shelves.