Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Genre: Sci-Fi (YA)
Publication Date: October 18th 2016
Publisher: Rock the Boat
Gemina is the second book in the epic YA Sci-Fi trilogy, The Illuminae Files. I’m not typically a sci-fi fan but I was so glad when I succumbed to the hype and picked up the first instalment, Illuminae, last year. It truly offers a reading experience with a difference. I read this for my Arithmancy exam in the OWLs Magical Readathon as it has more than one author. Needless to say, there may be spoilers below for anything that happened within the first book, but I’ve tried my best to hold them back so as not to spoil Gemina. Apologies for any space related puns, jokes or language.
<Synopsis from Goodreads>
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.
This series skyrockets the form of the novel to a whole new dimension – pun DEFINITELY intended. Now, I don’t tend to read comics, graphic novels, manga or anything similar so I can’t comment on how much this novel is like one of them, however the format of these books are unlike any other I have ever come across. I love it! The story is told through a dossier of evidence-based files which include video surveillance footage summaries; transcripts of emails and instant messaging programs; scrapbook and diary pages; computer screen graphics and some pretty superb illustrations from Marie Lu. Gemina offers a much more immersive read than normal novels and it also takes the edge off the whopping 659 pages that some people may find daunting. I’ve never read anything like it and it’s definitely a contributing factor into me giving this a 5* rating.
AIDAN is BACK!
After the ending of Illuminae, I wasn’t really sure how I felt about AIDAN. AIDAN: Artificial Intelligence Defence Analytics Network – for me, he’s definitely up there on the morally grey character list. (I also have a bit of a thing about A.I.s developing their own non-programmed thoughts and feelings, but that’s a whole other rant!) The fact that he has the ability to rise from the ashes of the Alexander fleet makes him the mythological phoenix of our story…then again this is Illuminae where plot twists are shooting from hangar bays everywhere and you have to just go with the flow to work who’s really alive or dead. I loved that he appears again in this story along with some of the other characters from Illuminae; it brought the series back into continuity as at the start of Gemina it felt like the two stories weren’t going to merge. But when they did…cue the nebula-style explosion propelling the story light years ahead! It really felt like a mini-family reunion when the casts of Illuminae and Gemina collided! As for the other characters, at first I found Hanna really annoying, especially the way she moons after her boyfriend, but then as the story progresses she really comes into her own. Nik is awesome and his cousin Ella is comedy gold. Special mention to Ella’s little black goldfish – had my heart in my mouth for that little sucker!
One of the benefits of a format such as Illuminae means that so much fun can be had within the pages. I adore media easter eggs (little clues or intentional jokes that are hidden in things) and I loved spotting the ones that are littered through these books. I don’t think there were as many in here as there were in Illuminae however I still had fun spotting different authors names in the pages and the graphics. The illustrations matching specific parts of the action or plot also just add to that fun-factor during reading.
Just when you think you’ve got a grip on the story, the authors turn it on its head and makes you think again. Sometimes the twists go beyond all reasoning, well I suppose we are in a sci-fi book after all! These books are brilliantly researched and incredibly well-written. Even with all the Science info, which is perfectly explained and diluted for us non-astrophysics types, Kaufman and Kristoff still manage to keep you completely clued up with what is happening in those precise moments that you’re reading. The facts don’t become overbearing and even when we’re discussing the heights of wormholes and parallel universes, we still feel like we’re finding these things out and comprehending them at the same time as other characters in the novel.
Cover-Ups and Conspiracies
At the heart of this story is a corporation trying to cover-up any of its little naughty goings-on in the Kerenza star-system. I’m sure I’m not the only out there in the entire galaxy that thinks this kind of stuff already happens in our real-world everyday. Wiki-leaks anyone…??? Our news is full of stories of fraud, injunctions, hushed-up investigations, and conspiracies and this is one of the major factors I love about these books. I love a good conspiracy, that’s one of the paramount reasons I love these books, and I know this is sci-fi (emphasis on the fiction), but I completely believe that at some point in our future there will be more and more groups like the Illuminae group who are working towards uncovering all of the wrong-doings and cover-ups that happen on our plant and beyond, if they aren’t out there doing that as we speak…
If the children I teach at school were that little bit older, then these books would definitely be on my syllabus! With that kind of story-line, the galactically great format and the absolute, a$$-kicking whopper of an ending, Gemina was always guaranteed to find a way into my heart and onto my elusive 5* Biblioshelf!
Bring on Obsidio!
Have you read The Illuminae Files? Are you as much as a sucker for literary easter eggs as I am? As always, drop me a comment to chat!