Review: Gemina

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published by Allen & Unwin on 1 November 2016
Pages: 672
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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The saga that began with breakout bestseller Illuminae continues aboard Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station commander’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 crew 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 book has been on my TBR list for awhile. Like, I pre-ordered the YA Chronicles Gemina box and it’s been sitting on my shelves ever since. However, I’m finally catching up on my never-ending list, and I have to say… I prefer Gemina to Illuminae. I think it’s because the romance took a backseat to the action and the book was much better for it.

While Illuminae followed Kady and Ezra (and a few other survivors) and their escape from Kerenza, Gemina focuses on Hanna and Nik on the jump station Heimdell — which our Illuminae protagonists are headed for (as far as I can tell, Gemina picks up immediately where Illuminae finishes). I felt like there was a lot more going on in this novel.

As with IlluminaeGemina is told through video footage transcripts, chat records, and various documents collated by the Illuminae Group. I loved the addition of Hanna’s diary (drawings provided by Marie Lu) and the court transcripts. It gave me a better idea of where the story was at. I wasn’t a huge fan of Aidan’s appearances, if only because I was twisting my book in all different directions to read it (which got me a few weird looks in the breakroom at work). While I get the whole ‘text mirroring the action on the page,’ it just frustrated me.

Hanna and Nik are wonderful additions — if Kady is Willow Rosenberg, Hanna is Buffy Summers. She is trained in multiple martial art forms, and her father is the commander of the Heimdell, which means that his idea of father-daughter bonding is running military strategy. Nik comes across as more… morally grey than most YA protagonists, and I really liked that I never knew what to expect with him. His relationship with his cousin, Ella, is wonderfully depicted (I really hope that they reappear in Obsidio). In fact, it was probably my favourite relationship in the book, if only because it seems so rare to have strong familial relationships in today’s YA.

With the jumping between the actual names and the code names of the members of the BeiTech team, I found it difficult to keep track of who was who, so I appreciated the little infographics reminding me of who was on the team and what their role was. While some members of the BeiTech team — Cerberus and Kali stick out the most — were developed more than others, I really enjoyed that Kaufman and Kristoff focused on characterising even the smallest of characters. It would’ve been so easy in a novel this epic to fall back on lazy stereotyping, but they don’t do that. Also, Jackson Merrick is dead to me (okay, thank you).

I loved the slew of pop culture references (I mostly picked up on the musical theatre references and the Whedonverse references, which I think were Kaufman’s doing, based on what was said at the launch for Obsidio), but to whoever included the Serenity reference: how dare you.


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