Monday, February 20, 2017

Gemina (Illuminae Files, Book 2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publication Date: October 18, 2016

I've been meaning to write a full review for this book for a few days and want to get it done now while it's still semi fresh in my mind...

I liked this book. I liked it quite a lot. I didn't love it, though, and I didn't enjoy Gemina quite as much as Illuminae but it was still a very interesting and creative story that I definitely don't regret reading and highly recommend.

This is what I would classify a sci-fi/contemporary with a lot of action and definitely in the YA genre as the swear words were all bleeped out in a way that I found both unrealistic and annoying but that's a very minor issue to have in the grand scheme of things. It follows two new characters who were not in Illuminae, Hanna and Nik, who are on the space station Heimdall, however, Ezra and Kady are mentioned about half way through and do play a fairly significant role in this story. There are several other cameos from the Illuminae cast throughout Gemina (including AIDEN!) but primarily this book has a whole new set of characters. For the most part I found that Hanna and Nik were basically carbon copies of Kady and Ezra with new names and different backstories, although Hanna wasn't as tech savvy as Kady so that's where Nik's techie cousin, Ella, comes into play. There are a lot of similarities in the plot during the first half of Gemina and that turned me off a bit. I was really worried I was simply reading another version of Illuminae and only the names and a few minor details had changed... BUT the second half of the books was absolutely authentic, unexpected and completely redeeming. I don't want to spend much time summarizing the plot in this review because I think it's better to go into this one blind but it's safe to assume that if you've read and enjoyed Illuminae then you'll enjoy this as well and you'll already have a solid grasp on what to expect.

This book was a bit difficult to follow and keep up with for me because there was so much going on, a ton of new characters to keep up with, multiple subplots, an illegal drug manufacturing operation, aggressive alien creatures, attacking drone ships, new scientific theories/discoveries, BeiTech assassins, betrayals and budding romances.... and all together just a lot of moving parts. For the first three quarters of the book there was one major conflict and when that was resolved the last quarter of the book involved an entirely new conflict that had to be delt with. I found the way the storyline was set up and the transition between conflicts a bit choppy but that might just be me being over critical. You know how sometimes you read a book and you really like it but then when you're writing your review it's full of negativity? I'm really not trying to make this like that.

I really did enjoy this book. I love the way it's created with mixed media format, ironically, because initially I was reluctant to read these books, despite rave reviews, because of the unique format, but the execution is practically flawless and the creative minds that created these books (Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff) are so impressive and talented. As with Illuminae I listened to Gemina on Audible and I highly recommend that format to anyone else with an interest in these books. It really takes these books to a higher level, the narration is excellent and the sound effects and extras that reading alone doesn't include really brought this story to life, in my opinion. I also loved the way the authors were able to deceive the reader on more than one occasion and there were a couple plot twists that I didn't suspect and that always impresses me and makes a book more enjoyable.

Let's take a minute to talk about Nik Malikov! He was definitely my favorite and no surprise because I've always been drawn to the bad boys, like a moth to a flame, and Nik was the epitome of a bad boy! He was a tatted up, drug dealing, certified hustler with a very checkered past, a convicted felon, fresh outta prison, smoking cigarettes, born into a crime family on the wong side of the tracks, original gangsta! Oh be still my heart! My teenage self would have fallen hard for Mr. Malikov (or his real life equivalent) but luckily, with the wisdom of age and experience my 33 year old self has learned that it's a lot more fun to read and fantasize about the Nik's of the world (or of outer space as the case may be) than it is to actually exist with them irl. But Nik was a bad ass with a soft side, enhancing his appeal and my appreciation for his character. Needless to say, I really enjoyed reading about him.

Overall, I give this between a 3.75 and 4 stars out of 5 which is a very good rating, as far as I'm concerned. I definitely recommend this duo but if there's one thing I cannot stress enough to anyone considering these books, especially anyone who is deterred by the mixed media format, it would be to try the audio version! As far as I know Illuminae and Gemina are a duology but the ending, although there was definitely a solid, satisfying conclusion, definitely paved the way for a trilogy and I'd be really shocked if there wasn't a third installment in the Illuminae series (fingers crossed). I'm curious to know if anyone has knowledge of that possibility?

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