Gemina (Illuminae Files #2)
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published: Oct. 25, 2016 (Knopf)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it will make reference to the previous book. If you haven’t started this series yet, check out VBC’s review of book 1, Illuminae.
Gemina is an evidence packet chronicling the events aboard the wormhole jump station Heimdall (you know, the one that Kady and the rest of the survivors of Beitech’s invasion on Kerenza are racing towards in the Hypatia). Hanna, daughter of the jump station’s captain, is very much looking forward to partying hard at Terra Day celebrations with her boyfriend. The one thing that will make it even better? Making sure she can get some ‘dust’ from her drug dealer Nik, a member of the House of Knives crime family.
Unaware of what happened on Kerenza, everything is set for an awesome shindig, until the station is invaded and all hell breaks loose. Hanna and Nick must fight to survive, attempting to thwart the murderous black squad now stalking the ship, killing anyone they find. As if that wasn’t hard enough, the drug operation Nik was (reluctantly) part of has taken a turn for the blood-sucking-alien-infestation variety AND a virus in the station’s system is threatening to rip a hole in the universe. Suffice to say, they has issues.
Gemina is like Die Hard and Alien has a young adult book baby and we’re getting to read its Facebook feed. (Yep, it’s as awesome as it sounds.) The brilliantly unique formatting of the series continues to work mind-blowingly well, I’m staggered all over again by the level of detail. (Again, this is one to buy in print.) Along side the IMs, transcripts and emails, Gemina also introduces artwork in the form of Hanna’s journal. A heartbreaking detail was the bullet hole in the corner of these pages with a bloodstain that continued to grow throughout. The format also makes this not only incredibly readable but also a pretty quick read—seriously, I flew through this 600+ page book.
The framing device of a trial works so well, as the goal of the book is information and evidence. This means, as long as the characters get the information out there, they are potentially expendable, making for a nail-biting read. As Hanna and Nik play a cat and mouse game with the Beitech team, the tension cranks up at an excruciating rate, only broken by rapid-fire burst of action. The plot then takes a twist that utilizes the format to beautiful effect. I felt like I’d been in an emotional tumbler dryer by the end of this.
I loved the fact that Nik and Hanna were not what I was expecting at all. Hanna’s father’s idea of bonding is playing war strategy games, meaning she ends up being a guerrilla-fighting badass. While Nik is definitely the ‘bad boy’, he was also very open and amiable. There are plenty of revelations and emotional shocks that rock these two to their cores but I really liked that there wasn’t much in the way of romantic angst, and that the focus was very much on the dire circumstances in front of them.
Gemina was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2016 and it didn’t let me down in anyway. I loved the fact that it was constantly surprising and delighting me. Once again I’m left wanting more, and seeing how unique this series is, nothing but the next in the series is going to fill the hole finishing this has left.
Sexual content: kissing, references to sex
This review is dedicated to Amanda, who is deeply missed. I think you would have loved this one lady.