My earlier review for Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff can be found here.
After reading Illuminae early on in the summer, I was quite excited to pick up Gemina. When I first picked up Illuminae, I started off a skeptic, because the whole “found documents/recordings/we blacked out half the words” thing was a bit offputting, but the story and the execution of this unique writing style quickly drew me in. And then blew me away with its originality and complexity. Gemina was no different – except this time I started off excited to delve back into this unique mish-mash of found documents.
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.
As with Illuminae, this next installment was full of quippy, sassy characters who simply have no time for BeiTech’s world-ending high-jinx. I mean, who does, right? Hanna and Nik are absolute perfection, making me fall in love with two whole new characters (a feat I doubted, due to my affinity to Kady and Ezra). Hanna is the “princess” of Heimdall, but she’s quickly proven to be anything but – she’s a badass, butt-kicking blonde loaded with sass and an ironclad determination (and yeah, she’s a bit spoiled). Nik is a “bad boy” who is really anything but – from the get go he’s clearly got more than one soft spot, but like Hanna, he’s determined to survive and determined to right the wrongs brought about by BeiTech. Their relationship starts off rocky (clearly, they run in different circles, Hanna being a “princess” and Nik being an illegal stowaway), but when disaster strikes, they prove to be each other’s best allies. Nik is steadfast in his loyalty to Hanna; Hanna is reluctant to trust Nik, but following a rather nasty series of revelations (ft. her boyfriend), Hanna willingly relies upon Nik and trusts him quite fully.
Again, this story is told through audio logs, IM records, video descriptions and found footage, among other things. Gemina featured much less blacked out nonsense than its predecessor, which made reading much more fluent and enjoyable (apparently Kristoff and Kaufman discovered that typing “fuk” is a good way to get around having to black out the f-word all the time). This way of storytelling is truly unique, and Kristoff and Kaufman appeared to have mastered it, flawlessly telling a rich, complex story through this odd narrative. The addition of pages from Hanna’s journal (illustrated by Marie Lu) were also quite cool, and added a more human element to the story, instead of just computer logs and printoffs, than had previously existed.
AND THAT PLOT TWIST. I’ll admit it; I was completely blindsided by Rapier’s true identity. Like, I thought it was a joke for a second, or something. I had decided early on that I knew who Rapier was, but boy, was I wrong. Going back and re-reading several scenes, I had to refrain from smacking myself over the head – had I kept my eyes open, maybe, just maybe, Rapier’s identity wouldn’t have been such a surprise. But probably not. This specific aspect was exceptionally well written and provided the first true, shocking plot twist I’ve experienced in a long time. Honestly, Kristoff and Kaufman outdid themselves here.
Overall, I loved this book. After months of waiting, Gemina lived up to the hype, surpassing the level of mastery and intrigue found in Illuminae. The new central characters – Hanna and Nik – merged flawlessly with the dialogue and narrative, and fit right in with Kady and Ezra. There were enough old friends, easter eggs and twists to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, while still being completely understandable in its delivery of the story. Really, Gemina can only be described as a masterpiece – I would highly recommend to any fans of Fantasy or Sci-Fi.