I’ll be honest with you, I have been putting off writing this book review for a while. I’ve had many mixed feelings towards this YA-novel, and needed time to put my thoughts in order. Whether my opinions are in order yet, I’m not sure, but I will try to give you the best review I can.
Gemina is the follow-up novel to Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The first installment was a surprisingly delicious read. An easily consumable sci-fi adventure packed full of everything you could desire. And I mean everything. There was an insane AI with a god complex, an intergalactic high-speed chase, powerful villains that literally destroyed an entire planets population, and friggin’ zombies! To top it off there was a complete spectrum of complex characters all with their own intentions that often got in the way of each other. Plus two brilliant protagonists.
I could go off forever about all of the high stakes and collective sub-plots in Illuminae- in fact, I did in my review of that book. But, I am here to write about the ‘016 sequel, Gemina, today. Bringing up the intricacies of the first book are essential for this review, because that is where my expectations sat as I re-entered this universe. I intended to see just how much more could go wrong for the ragtag group of refugees, and I expected a lot to go wrong. But, that’s not what I got at all. I was side-swiped with an entirely new story, with a completely new cast.
Warning! This is where things are about to get all spoiler-y. If you have not read Illuminae here is my review of that book again. You should not read further if you have any intentions of reading that book and have not yet finished it.
Gemina takes place on the Heimdall warp station, the same station that Hypatia from book one is desperately trying to reach. However, the Kerenza attack was not finished with their initial attack. As the villain corporation is now doing whatever it takes to cover up their initial attack, they deploy a group of special forces to hijack, and sabotage the space station before the refugees can arrive. They didn’t account for a group of highly-capable teenagers, including the captains daughter, to lead a resistance. However, when dealing with an intergalactic space portal, things can be a bit unstable.
As you can see, a very different story from the first novel. Same universe, different themes, stakes, and emotions. At first, when I was reading this I was abruptly disappointed. Not only were the characters and adventure I was hoping for missing, but this installment started on a much slower tone than anything Illuminae offered. In fact, I was ready to discount this book early. But, I read on.
I ended up enjoying the book. The characters were alright, I mostly enjoyed the villainous special-ops team. The threats were good, I would have liked at least one other thing to go wrong. Like a rampaging mutant running through the halls. I mostly enjoyed the format that was kept from the first, with the book being a collection of emails, message boards, and security footage. What really sold me was the highly complex conclusion which brought this story full circle and in-line with the first.
In all I liked this book but did not love it the way I did Illuminae. The roles almost seemed reversed with the first book having the higher stakes than its follow-up. It did do its job of setting us up for a big conclusion in the third book, Obsidio, expected in March of ‘018. I give Gemina a 3/5 with the recommendation of reading it as part of the full series. This book may have lacked the luster we came to expect from the first novel but, it carries the series over for what should be a powerful ending.
Thanks booknerds, let’s just keep reading.