Hi friends! Today is my day on the blog tour for Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. I'm excited to share my review of this incredible book, PLUS there is a giveaway sponsored by the publisher. Check it out below!
Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Book Two of the Illuminae Files series
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
Goodness, this book was amazing. I could not stop reading until I finished! I read it in one sitting because there really was no other option. I thought Illuminae was great, but this book was even better. Even better, I tell you!
On the Heimdall Jump Station, Hanna Donnelly and Niklas Malikov live two very different lives. Hanna is the daughter of the station captain, which makes her very rich space royalty. Nik isn't registered as a resident, because he and the rest of the House of Knives don't officially exist. They are criminals, and they are drug dealers. Nik doesn't want to be a part of that lifestyle, but HoK is family, and family is everything. But things start to go horribly wrong with a BeiTech team invades the station and effectively kills, corrals, or captures everyone. Hanna and Nik hide and run for their lives, causing chaos as they go. Both refuse to turn themselves in, and both refuse to make it easy. As they piece together the invasion and other strange secrets that come to light, they'll work together to keep each other - and the station - alive. But time is running out for the Heimdall, and the approaching Hypatia.
I seriously could not read this book quickly enough. The beginning was a little slow (like, the first one hundred pages or so), but I kept turning pages as the book went on. It's about 650 pages but I got through the story very quickly. Once the invasion occurred, things got crazy. And the "alien" predators business made me want to read faster too. Once the story started coming together and pieces of the story were happening more and more, I couldn't stop reading. One sitting, people. That's pretty difficult for adults with busy lives!
On the surface, one might think Hanna is a stereotypical spoiled princess. She likes clothes and hair and makeup, and she only has to ask her father for money to get it with no questions asked. But Hanna has a very different life; her childhood and teenager life have been spent training in martial arts and other forms of defense. She's intelligent and physically strong, and mentally so as well.
Nik is a different kind of strong. He's seen the real world, and he's seen jail. He might not know fancy combat stances, but he is a fighter. He is also a shameless flirt when it comes to Hanna, with hearts in his eyes. He sells drugs to Hanna (she wants them), but he genuinely likes her. Nik isn't a pothead or a criminal - he's a good guy, and a selfless one, at that. I liked Nik more than Hanna, and with good reason.
The romance is between these two! Hanna has a boyfriend in the beginning of the story (they celebrated their six-month anniversary), but she doesn't feel the spark of love. I think a lot of that relationship was very physical but not emotional. Hanna and her boyfriend are separated quickly, and as Hanna really gets to know Nik, she finds that she isn't really thinking of her boyfriend. And then she finds out some things about the boyfriend... let's just say that Nik is the most honorable person in the book.
My second favorite character (behind Nik and ahead of Hanna) is Nik's cousin Ella! Ella is a hacking genius, similar to Kady. But Ella is confined to a chair, after her body was weakened from an infection. Ella is such a bada**, more than Hanna. She's honest and to the point, and saves Nik and Hanna so many times in this book. Ella is a great cousin and wonderful friend.
So many twists and turns in this book! I like how Kaufman and Kristoff set up the twists and turns. There are times when you're like, huh, that's weird, and that EXACT thing pops up again later in the story and you're like ohhhh, that's why. Like the cues are subtle, but they are there, and I love how it all starts to make sense as the story moves to the climax.
Honestly I don't want to say too much more because I'm afraid of spoiling things. So much happened that could be considered spoilers. I know that the books in this series are companion novels, but it's important to read each of the books and in order. The overall series story builds in a fascinating way. As much as I liked Ezra and Kady, I liked seeing the story from Nik and Ella's POV too. The timing worked so that it was like two storylines colliding at the very end of this book.
As with Illuminae, this book is told in transcripts, surveillance video commentary, logs, IM chats, and reports. I didn't think I would enjoy this type of storytelling, because it really removes you from the characters and character development, but the authors did a great job of developing the protagonists and establishing connections for the readers.
The science fiction aspect was great in Illuminae, but it really ramps up in this book! There are some really cool reveals in this book that I can't say specifically (spoilers), but they are cool. The futuristic setting is a Jump Station in space. There is so much technology and advancements, and it's clear that Kaufman and Kristoff did their research well, as well as used their imaginations well.
Overall, I was more than pleased with this book. The ending isn't necessarily a cliffhanger but it definitely leaves me wanting more, so I can't wait for the third book. I'm sure the showdown will be all kinds of epic!
What I Did Not Like:
I just did not like that Hanna had a boyfriend before this story started, and she's still with him when the story starts. Hanna likes him and cares about him but isn't sure that she loves him. They've been together for six months, and they've definitely been doing things in the last six months. There are several reasons why I didn't like her boyfriend... you'll see why. In any case, there is only one OTP, and really there was NO love triangle (trust me -- I don't think Hanna and her boyfriend even kiss in this book). But I didn't like the existence of a current boyfriend, to be honest.
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book! Whether you like science fiction or not, this is great fiction. The page count is hefty but the book reads very quickly - it won't take you as long as you think it will, to read this book. Plus, the romance is sweet (again, no love triangle), and the protagonists are very likable (especially Nik!). The story is told in a unique way, but that isn't all that makes the story special!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. (This rating isn't just because of the existing boyfriend aspect.) I can't wait to read the next book! I know it's going to be about a third couple, but I hope we get to see more of Ezra/Kady and Nik/Hanna in the final book (and I think we certainly will)!
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Win a finished copy of Gemina! Courtesy of Penguin Random House. USA only, ends 10/12. Good luck!