Reviews

Book Review ➳ Gemina

Title: Geminagemina-by-amie-kaufman-and-jay-kristoff

Author: Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Release Date: October 18, 2016

Pages: 659

Goodreads Review

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Synopsis: The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.” 

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.
Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.


Hiii readers! You can’t see me right now but I’ve got my print ARC of Gemina, water, Milk Duds + Life Savers, Melanie Martinez blasting—so you know what that means. NO, I am not “studying” I am writing a review!

You lovelies may not know this, but I read Illuminae in December 2015. Last month of the year yet somehow it managed to score a spot on my top 10 fave books of ’15. The book, as I seriously but jokingly stated, this book made me love science fiction again. While that is only sort of true, I fell straight in love with Illuminae’s story, universe, + characters quite easily.

When I discovered I received an ARC to Gemina—thank you to the wonderful people at First in Line Readers from Penguin Random House—due to my prize from B-Fest (blog post link here) I was screaaaaaming about this book. It’s one of the most anticipated books of the fall 2016 season, and I have it!

I decided to buddy read Gemina with a friend from Instagram, but that was a tragic mistake *laughs* When she was on page 38 I was on page 380. I couldn’t help that this book had me BINGING FOR SO MUCH MORE. It was amazing + epic + all I needed in life, I simply cannot help that.

I jotted down a bunch of notes and tabbed a few translation: a lot pages in the book as well. Look at me, being all fancy + professional. But in reality I have no idea how to write this review besides smashing my keyboard in conviction. Although I don’t think I would be wrong to do so.

This marks the end of my non-spoiler section, so I suggest if you haven’t read Gemina that click away to shield your pretty little eyes from my review.

OKAY LET’S BEGIN with the basics. That sounds good. That sounds great.

Characters

As much as I loved the chemistry between Nik and Hanna, I felt like I’ve read it before. Oh wait, I have: Illuminae. Now, now, I’m just saying Nik and Ezra are pretty similar in their cocky, outgoing boy personality. They both pull it off well. That’s to say I’ve definitely seen it before, so it really isn’t a big issue beside the fact I would’ve appreciated a little split in their personality similarities. As for Hanna, well, she’s just a discount Lilac LaRoux. And I mean discount, because Lilac was the richest girl in the universe, but Hanna did like to fault her status.

Ella, on the other hand, was perhaps my favorite. If this were Kim Possible, she’d be Wade—kicking ass and slamming her keyboard kinda like myself, minus the ass kicking part  with time left over to roast you like a marshmallow. She was smart, determined, strong (physically and mentally) and I just fell in love with her ‘take no shit’ attitude right away. Though I have to admit I did think she was dead when that Lanima attacked her *screech* but alas she is alive and I can sleep at night.

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Setting

Lately science fiction has been awfully plain to me. The once uber-popular dystopian phase has subsided within the YA community and while I don’t mind it too much, I had to drop science fiction to my second or third favorite genre after a 3 year long reign. Illuminae, though, kinda convinced me to pick up some sci-fi again + embrace the world apocalyptic reads we know and love and fear?

The Illuminae Files is by far my new favorite series involving aliens + space sorry Rick Yancey. It brought something fresh, something new, something intriguing to the table of repetitive sci-fi phenomenon. I can’t say I’m an expert at this book’s universe, since the politics involving BeiTech is questionable I don’t even know American politics nevermind fictional ones 500+ years from now?? and frankly I was more focused on our characters & plot rather than how this world came to be.

Nonetheless the world building was pretty epic in Illuminae, but not so much Gemina. We readers were trapped on the space station + only now and then received info on Kerenza, Hypatia can someone tell me how to correctly pronounce that? and the rest of the universe. BUT THAT MULTIVERSE THOUGH. That’s the reason Gemina’s rather vague world building was redeemed toward the end.

Plot

I cannot emphasize enough how~creative~and~unique~this trilogy is. Gemina, as was Illuminae, has a story expressed through emails, IMs, images, files, and footage. There’s a little piece of YA books told beside the plain text on a book and I want all of them. As for the plot, you may think you have slightest clue what is happening, but when you’re all high and mighty and sure of yourself, Amie + Jay whip out their epic writing skills and shoot you with a fireball like aaaaaah you’re deaaaad. Like most of the characters. The plot was solid, but I’d love a clearer explanation as to why BeiTech wanted the Heimdall station so damn desperately. Even though nothing could justify the murder and sorrow they caused as soon as Cerberus shot Commander Donnelly and set off the havoc from there.

AIDAN

I was quite happy to be reunited with our old friend AIDAN again. If you forgot, AIDAN is an AI system that functions in both Illuminae and Gemina to save the ships from peril. I really missed him/her/unidentified. I know AIDAN doesn’t have a gender, it’s only a machine, but I strangely read the voice with a hollow woman voice, like the echo of Siri.

“An hour passes. Brief conversation. Small jokes. Mostly sexual in nature. I try to assimilate, but your kind’s obsession with procreative humor is beyond me.” (p. 267)

That aside, I really did miss AIDAN. It always had a sense of subtle humor that usually went over the reader’s head unless they really listened. AIDAN is a character as vivid as the real people in these novels, and I adore the way Kaufman and Kristoff write AIDAN so vibrantly. Although the loyalty of AIDAN is questioned from time to time, it works on its accord to promote the overall good of the people, without the mess of tangled feelings and emotions those pathetic humans have, am I right? *nudge*

“For what it is worth, O Captain my Captain, you have my word I mean no harm to any of you. To protect you is all I ever wanted.” (p. 578)

When the Multiverse theory was still an unraveling idea to Kady and the Hypatia crew, AIDAN was able to steer Syra to put aside the insecurities in his belief and realize there can be two parallel universes—and they do exist. One of the best things about AIDAN—even though I stated it was a machine who isolated logic and reasoning from feelings and emotion—I am so fascinated by the way AIDAN is treated as almost a person among the eyes of both the characters + the readers as well. AIDAN is a remarkable, nearly underrated character in the Illuminae Files.

“AIDAN: The universe itself depends on you.

AIDAN: . . .No pressure.” (p. 593)

The Villain

Every fantasy or in this case, science-fiction book has to have a definite villain, right? One who wears all black and broods about their lives while perched up in a tall tower somewhere? Sound familiar yet? If you want to see that typical villain trope in Gemina, then you will partially get your wish.

One of the most effective war tactics to date is divide and conquer. The act of allies turning on one another after a sharp, precise move carefully executed by the opposing party. Falk is here to take the ship for BeiTech, and he is aware he will have to dispose of some bodies in the process, then he doesn’t mind as long as their plan is completed as soon as possible.

“coz in case you haven’t clocked it yet, divide and conquer is the name of falk’s game now.”

As I stated someplace up there, I’m a bit flusterated on the actual reason BeiTech sent their squad on a suicide mission to invade a highly populated Heimdall space station. Travis Falk, Cerberus to his colleagues, is not here to have people sympathize his life and decisions he’s made. He has a job and intends to complete it by any means necessary. The sense of clean cut precision and determination is what isolated him from other villains who muddle their actions with shifty motives.

“I’m not some monster from a fairy tale, Miss Donnelly. I don’t kill anyone I don’t have to. I’m a professional, here to perform a simple task. And believe it or not, I have larger concerns than you right now.” (p. 307)

I applaud the lack of typical YA trope where the villain’s sole intention is to wipe their path of our protagonist. I can’t say I like Falk, but he definitely stands out against most YA villains, that’s for sure.

Twists + Turns

Here’s a brief list of things I didn’t expect to happen in Gemina:

  • There is two alternate universes parallel to each other
  • Hanna’s death i n one universe, Nik’s in the other
  • Lanima assault on Ella—and she lived through it

aliens

  • Bianca is Falk’s mother kinda random, but go family business ?
  • Sam Maginot of BeiTech and Jackson Merrick, Hanna’s bf, were one in the same
  • Jackson shooting Hanna in one universe—and not in the other

That being said, I guess you can say Gemina really kept my guessing. Like all the damn time. It was torture. But the good kind? The kind I can review with 2500+ words?

Parallel Universes

Parallel. Multiverse. Honestly one of my~faaaavorite~theories ever. To me it’s more of a fictional concept though what do I know? but nonetheless I gobble up any story containing the theory of parallel universes. I can’t really explain how fascinating I find it, along with time travel. And to see it inside Gemina in the flesh—well it was extraordinary. In fact, Gemina is named for twin in Latin. When I discovered the source behind the title I was ecstatic. That is so clever.

I must admit that Gemina reminded me an awfully lot like The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. That book contained so many different dreams, figments of imagination, passages of time—it all just left me befuddled throughout the entire novel. Well toward the end, Gemina had a lot of flopping back & forth between one universe and the other. In one, Hanna died in Nik’s arms and he communicated with the Hypatia himself. In another, Nik died in Hanna’s arms, and she communicated with the Hypatia herself.

Later, Hanna has to undergo a particular plan to save both Nik and expose the atrocities of BeiTech to the public. In the other universe, Nik has to undergo this same mission and save Hanna and expose BeiTech. You would assume writing both of these scenes would be incredibly repetitive, but au contraire, young one—it was quite the opposite, in fact. Each page in the book mirrored the other, in a way that one spread contained the same message twice. I can’t really express this scene as well as it is inside the actual book. Just take my word and see for yourself. Miss Kaufman and Mr. Kristoff are talented as hell, I tell you.

Ending

Remember earlier when I described Hanna Donnelly as a discount Lilac LaRoux? Honestly kind of proud of that statement. Well not only did she remind of Lilac, but this ending reminded me of These Broken Stars, which I read long ago.

I won’t spoil if you haven’t read one of Amie Kaufman’s fabulous works, but the ending was rather vague in explaining how exactly one character had come back to life after a brutal death. Well, Gemina was a bit similar. Oh, oh, but not only does the book end on a cliffhanGER—but you have no clue which universe we’re in either. Okay, maybe you will, but I sure don’t understand.

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As for the next book, I CAN’T WAIT. Don’t know the title, the characters, the story, but to hell with it I’m adding it to my tbr. I better get an ARC for that too.

Quotes + Final Thoughts

“AIDAN: What do you believe, Syra?

AIDAN: What do you believe, Syra?

AIDAN: What do you believe, Syra?”

In this scene, AIDAN is hassling Syra, who is hesitant to accept the multiverse theory by his  insecurities about it being true. AIDAN is fully on board, because it knows there is another universe out there. I mean, AIDAN did talk to both Hanna and Nik—who each claimed was dead in the opposite universe—and so did the Hypatia crew.

But the real reason I love that part is because it reminds me of The Room Where It Happens when Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton are hassling Burr like, “What do you want, Burr? What do you want, Burr? What do you want, Burr?” So yeah. I can’t even read a damn book without referencing Hamilton now. Congratulations. That’s actually the name of a deleted Hamilton song featuring Angelica—quit it already, Jill.

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Anyway, so that’s all I have to say about Gemina! Oh look! We’ve official come to the end of my review. Didn’t think that would ever happen, did ya? I know, I rambled a bit, but it was all done in good measure. And clearly it was needed. Alas, I’m going to leave my Gemina tabs inside the book + place the book back on my shelf where it will sit while I gaze at its beauty.


What did you think of Gemina? Was it a satisfying sequel to Illuminae? Tell me below!

xoxo,

Jill

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4 thoughts on “Book Review ➳ Gemina

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