Book Review: Gemina, by Amie Kaufman

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_geminaTalk about an adrenaline rush! Gemina is the action-packed follow-up to Illuminae, a book quite unlike any I have ever read before. A combination of transcripts, reports and IM conversations, interspersed with some absolutely delightful drawings by the very talented Marie Lu.

New characters, new setting, and a few familiar faces, but the same heart-racing, page-turning, rollercoaster-ride-of-emotion that I experienced with its predecessor.

Gemina is set in Heimdall, the jumpstation and destination for the refugees from the Kerenza events of book one. Hanna’s father is the resident captain, and Hanna is somewhat pampered, but definitely not to be underestimated. It’s hard to live the high life in a space station at the edge of the universe, but Hanna still wears the latest fashions, dates the most handsome guy, and illustrates her life in her journal.

Nik is a member of a notorious crime family, delving (reluctantly) into their underground drug operation (it involves cows and alien parasites, and is one of the most disturbing things you will ever read about, trust me). Their lives have little in common, and their paths rarely cross.

Until BeiTech operatives invade the jumpstation. Their mission: seize the jumpstation, silence the incoming Hypatia crew, and destroy all evidence of the Kerenza attack. Little do they know who they’re going up against. Hanna’s more than a pretty face, and Nik has quite a few aces up his sleeve. But can two teenagers survive against armed militants, alien predators, and a malfunctioning wormhole that threatens to tear space and time apart?

Like Hanna and Nik, we’re in for one heck of a ride!

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

Illuminae Files_02: Gemina
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781925266573

Book Review: Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Available in bookshops nationwide.cv_illuminae

Illuminae is an action-packed space adventure that will hold you entranced until the last page, with clenched fists and gritted teeth; it’s an intense roller-coaster of a read.

Whilst the premise may sound nothing new: a malfunctioning AI, zombies, teenage angst-romance, hackers, politics, the structure is entirely fresh and original. (Also, the zombies aren’t really zombies at all, but that’s a different matter entirely). Instead of a straight third-person narrative, what we have here is a collection of transcripts: interviews with the protagonists; emails and IM chats between them; the protagonist’s written records of events (with subsequent censoring); accounts written by an objective observer (allegedly watching security footage) and some really nifty action scenes where the pages, almost literally, come alive with dynamic text that will have you barrel-rolling the book to read it.

The story starts with Kady and Ezra, a teenage couple in an illegal mining colony in the far flung reaches of space. In the morning, they broke up; in the afternoon, their world blew apart beneath an assault from BeiTech Industries. After a harrowing escape, the two find themselves evacuated to separate vessels: The Alexander, a heavy battle-carrier and Hypatia, a scientific exploration vessel. Joining their fleet of refugees was another ship, a freighter called Copernicus.

These overloaded, under-supplied ships begin the laborous trek towards the space station, Heimdall, where a jump gate will carry them back to civilisation. However, not only are they being hunted by BeiTech’s dreadnought, the Lincoln, but something has gone very, very wrong with Alexander’s AI, AIDAN. When Copernicus is destroyed, and a terrible virus brought aboard Alexander, things start to get very, very bad indeed. In the thick of it are our heroes: Ezra as a pilot working to protect and defend Alexander against the hunting dreadnought, while Kady’s computer-tech and hacking skills become an essential key to the survival of all aboard.

With its unconventional structure, Illuminae may be a bit off-putting to some readers. However, if you want something fresh and original that will have you biting your nails with tension, then this is the book for you.

Also, I can’t wait to see the movie (it’s been optioned by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment).

Reviewed by Angela Oliver

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Published by Allen & Unwin
ISBN 9781760113803