Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 18, 2016
Genres: young adult science fiction, young adult romance
Format: Paperback (ARC)
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Aaaaaaand we’re back! 😀
Oooooh, boy. How do I even begin to review this one?
So, as all of you know, I loved Illuminae. Like, I loved it, loved it. That book is, and always shall be, one of my favorite thrill rides.
So when I won an ARC of this in a giveaway, I was ecstatic. Seriously, you guys. I almost started crying. I started it with a grin and a hope that it would be as fantastic as the first book.
Only, now I’m finished with it, and I’m not quite sure how to rate it.
Illuminae was explosive and so, so stressful. I was practically tearing my hair out while devouring that book, but I loved every second of it. There’s definitely action in Gemina, but it takes longer to escalate and the horrors on board of the ship are more insidious than before. Which is fine, just different.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I wasn’t able to connect with this book as well as I wanted to. It has nothing to do with the quality of the storytelling or the characters; both are vivid and well-developed. And I’m thinking maaaaaybe I feel this way because I’m still reeling from the first book? I’m not quite sure. (I’m also struggling with some personal issues that kind of make it hard for me to connect with things in general right now, so perhaps that could be a cause?)
Another thing I noticed was, though there are a lot of direct messages between the characters, there are more video transcriptions than text messages. As a result, I felt a little more removed from the characters than I did in the last book. I also felt what happened at the very end because of the twist (no spoilers here!) could have been explained a little bit more clearly, but, eh, that’s a nit-pick.
Let me tell you what I enjoyed about the book, though, so you don’t think I didn’t like it. I did, really.
So, Hannah, one of our main characters, draws, and Gemina incorporates some of the drawings in her notebook (illustrated by the lovely Marie Lu) into the story. While my copy of the book didn’t include these drawings, the ones I’ve seen are pretty darn good, and, based off of what I’ve seen, they add a lot of character to this book overall. (Also, this picture of Nik, another one of our protagonists? Sa-WOON! He makes me snort with laughter, the little rascal.)
Also, AIDAN’s back, you guys, and just as snarky and cynical as ever. It was fun to read his perspective again; though he’s very intelligent, his ignorance of human mannerisms and colloquialisms made me crack up. I missed my AI buddy. I want to hug him, but I don’t think that’s possible (and, even if I could, I’m a bit worried he might blow me up if I tried).
Another thing I enjoyed is how Gemina balances building on the old with introducing the new. This story, while it holds its own, is also deeply connected to the events in Illuminae, and we really see that here (especially in the reappearance of some of Illuminae‘s characters). We get to know Hannah, Nik, Ella, and the Heimdall, and I really enjoyed reading Hannah’s interactions with the Malikovs and Hannah’s and Nik’s interactions with Ella. They were funny, realistic, and sweet. (And Nik and Hannah make me grin so wide, you guys–mainly because Nik’s adorable, of course.)
We also learn more about BeiTech and their plans, as well as things we only heard about in passing in Illuminae. For example, we get to see more of Kady’s dad and the work he does on Heimdall (and, speaking of dads, I laughed so hard at Hannah’s email exchanges with her dad. Those were waaaaay too accurate, hahaha.). Kady and Ezra (and, of course, AIDAN) also get page time, which gave me those warm fuzzy nostalgic feelings. (And trust me: In this series, you learn to treasure those, because they’re really rare, heheh.)
The result of all these things is the same fun, exciting story, but from a different perspective–one with action, relatable, vivid characters, the desperation of survival, and a twist that’ll make your eyes wide and your jaw drop. (I really wish I could say more about that twist, but you’ll have to read it and see for yourselves!) A worthy successor to Illuminae, at the very least, even if I didn’t connect with it as well as I’d hoped to.
Many thanks to Alli and Taylor of A Bookish Alli for sending me this ARC, and thank you to Knopf and the authors for supplying it. All quotes in this review are from an advance copy of the book, and are subject to change in the final copy. No compensation of any kind was exchanged for this review.