This book was a must-read for me after I finished reading Illuminae. There’s something fabulous about the uniqueness of its storytelling method. Told, like Illuminae, through a dossier of records presented at a tribunal, its structure allows for layers upon layers of unforeseen plot twists and I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing it.
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Date published: October 18, 2016
Goodreads summary: 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 saga that began with Illuminae continues on board the space station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while they 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 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 may 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.
If you liked Illuminae I really fail to see how there’s any chance you wont love Gemina. (Click here to read a review of Illuminae )
I was dubious at first about the character and perspective shift when I first found out about it. Don’t get me wrong I like change but I also like Kady and Ezra so I thought it would feel kind of wrong to continue their story without them. As it turns out my scepticism was completely misplaced. The new protagonists Nik and Hanna are really interesting and I think I actually prefer them to the original pair. What’s nice is that whilst the similarities between Kady and Hanna are acknowledged in the narrative there are still nuances and differences between the two characters.
Yep, you read that right, Kady (and Ezra) still feature in the second instalment and it’s fabulous. To have four characters so connected to the reader and well developed is such a clever thing to experience; routing for 4 people means there’s more potential for disaster too! It raises the stakes and makes it all the more pleasurable to read about their experiences with one another (and with some really cool new characters – there’s a lot of strong female characters in this book!)
A part of this series that I really like is their signature format. The dossier set up is a fascinating idea and actually works for the novel on multiple levels. Firstly, of course, there’s the aesthetic level. The drawings by Marie Lu are a lovely touch and the addition of Hanna’s journal makes it so much more personal. Secondly, the perspective can shift quickly between pages without being jarring; the pace is so easily maintained it’s a wonder this type of presentation hasn’t been used more frequently in the past. Thirdly, and I would argue most importantly, it allows the reader to be mislead and tricked and ultimately renders the narrative completely unpredictable. I mean I couldn’t believe it when I found out ███ was actually █████! For me this is a major plus as my pet hate is a poorly disguised twist (If you don’t believe me check out my review for We Were Liars.) On the other hand one major twist was very reminiscent of a twist that we already had in Illuminae.
**THE NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SPOILERS**
So what’s really annoying is that (a) people don’t really stay dead in this series and (b) you’d think with all the technology and smarts BeiTech have under their considerable belts that maybe they’d get wise to the fact that these Illuminae group dossiers might maybe, possibly (given that they’re compiled by their enemies) be designed to mislead them? Especially when that’s exactly what happened in the first book. I found this element a little disappointing and actually a little bit hard to believe. Frobisher is smarter than that.
**YOU ARE NOW CLEAR OF THE SPOILER ZONE**
Despite the format the writing itself never feels forced or unnatural. There’s a wonderful amalgamation of tones and styles that helps maintain interest and rhythm. There’s long romantic descriptions followed by quick staccato commands and colloquial text speak followed by the formal dialogue between an operative and his/her superiors; it covers all bases. The one think I felt it did lack was the ability to get my heart racing – it’s difficult, i would imagine, to convey the right level of tension and panic in the form of video transcripts and instant messages but I feel like it could’ve still been achieved and was disappointing by its absence.
There’s a new big bad in this instalment too but I don’t really feel like the creatures our heroes encounter have got anything on the terrifying phobos virus from Illuminae; that ████ was scary! The new ‘big bad’ was set up really well but its presence was a little deficient in the second half of the book. This was a bit of a shame but I’m pleased they were so different a problem to the phobos virus; it didn’t feel too repetitive plot wise.
Overall this sequel was, for me, marginally better than its predecessor though similarities with the first book are essentially the biggest element holding it back. The romance element was lot less gushy and central and the sci-fi elements were more pronounced in its stead. If you don’t like the considerable amount of character and ship names that featured in Illuminae you’ll be irritated to know there’s more in this one though some do carry over. I love these complexities and think it’s handled well explanation wise, but I could imagine it being irritating if you just sat down for a leisurely read and don’t really want to flip back a few pages to find out how ████ died and what their name was and if that’s the same as the nickname █████…
4 out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
If you have any other suggestions or insights feel free to message me or leave them in the comments section below!
– Cat –