Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Genre: Sci-Fi / Young Adult
Publisher: Rock the Boat
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.
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.
So how did Gemina compare to Illuminae? Well, just like Illuminae, I’ve given Gemina five stars. Once again the epistolary form really benefits the novel’s storytelling and character development. The plot jumps between the different formats and characters seamlessly, weaving a web of intrigue and questions. I was worried that a new cast might put me off a little, but actually I really enjoyed them, and Kaufman and Kristoff drop enough hints about the impending arrival of the Hypatia to keep you interested, as well as throwing a fair few spanners into the works.
This novel focuses on the main characters of Hanna Donnelly and Niklas Malikov fighting for their lives. I have to say that, whilst I really liked both of them, I think I prefer Kady and Ezra as protagonists, but only just. This is mainly because I struggled to put my finger on who Hanna exactly was – she felt a little like a watered-down version of Kady. Nik I preferred to Hanna; he was funny and crude, but once again he did share a lot of similarities with Ezra (and Ezra’s complexity was something I really loved and felt to be truly unique and captivating when it came to his character development).
That being said, I still really liked them. Maybe I was just trying to compare them to Kady and Ezra because I loved reading about them so much, but I at least thought Nik had a really interesting backstory. However, there was definitely one standout character for me in the form of Nik’s cousin Ella Malikova. She actually annoyed me ever-so-slightly at the beginning, but Nik makes a comment about Ella being full on and how it’s just her and, after that, I accepted her personality a lot more and came to enjoy any scenes involving her. She was witty, intelligent, crude like Nik, but also a realist and I liked that about her. And in addition to this (VERY MINOR SPOILER ALERT) she’s great disability rep. She doesn’t let anything stand in her way.
The rest of the cast consisted mainly of adults, same as Illuminae, which is why I think this is such an accessible series and definitely a crossover between YA and adult. There weren’t as many ‘big players’ in the adult cast as in Illuminae and I didn’t really become attached to any of them like I did with James McNulty, Winifred McCall and Byron Zhang, but it was still a large and interesting cast. Saying this, I probably didn’t become attached to any of the secondary characters as much simply because the majority of them here were the villains. But they were definitely compelling villains.
As for the plot, it was the strong point of the novel. Another complicated story with a myriad of sub-plots, I never got bored of it and couldn’t wait till everything collided for the big finale. Nevertheless, I do have a few critiques.
As you’ve already seen, I critiqued Hanna and Nik, feeling they weren’t quite as well-rounded as Kady and Ezra and how they felt too similar. Yet still I’ve given this book five stars. That’s because these critiques didn’t really effect my overall enjoyment of the novel. I still think it’s a pretty much flawless and incredibly unique series, and is 100% one of my favourites of all time. However, this is an honest review, and if I feel some things didn’t quite hit the mark, then I’m obviously going to point them out.
Anyway, after that ramble, my critique for the plotting is this: I felt that Kaufman and Kristoff tried to pull the same shock tactics as they did in Illuminae. Because of the similarities, these ‘shocks’ didn’t affect me. Something huge would happen and instead of my heart pounding or me actually sobbing for a good portion of the book (as happened with Illuminae) I actually just thought “nah, it’s fine, he/she will get out of this/hasn’t actually done that/won’t die”. And lo and behold, I was right. These big shocks that worked so well in Illuminae fell a little flat in Gemina because they were recycled. If you’ve read Gemina, you’ll probably know what I’m referring to.
And this leads to the fact that Gemina didn’t hit me quite as hard as Illuminae did. However, I think that’s down to the fact that Illuminae was just so new and different and daring. Once that’s been done, it’s hard to compete or improve upon it. Gemina did have lots of fresh ideas to contribute, I just wish there had been even more. Yet maybe if they had tried to push the boundaries even further than in Illuminae, the book might have become too unrealistic, which would have been even worse.
Overall, the new ideas that Gemina contributed (there were some big ‘uns) definitely outweighed the slight con of some recycled ideas. I wish this series won’t end and I’m going to be devastated when I’ve finished the final book. The entire thing is a whirlwind of action, humour, and emotion and, like I said in my Illuminae review, I don’t really know how Kaufman and Kristoff have pulled it all off.
I hope that my critiques haven’t deterred anyone because this is seriously one amazing series and I cannot recommend it enough; there were just a few very minor things I picked up on that I thought could have been tweaked. But all in all, Gemina was an excellent sequel; I think the wait for book 3 might just kill me.
Have you read Gemina? What did you think of it? Do you agree with my review? Are you planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments below!