Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #2)

geminacoverOfficial Synopsis from Amazon: 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.

 Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Setting: Aboard the Jump Station Heimdall, floating through space
My copy came from: I borrowed the hardback from my local library. I walked in, this was staring at me from the shelf, so I decided now would be the time to read it!

Review: Entertaining, but the format is problematic for character development. Gemina takes us back into the world of science fiction, space stations, teens who save the world, and this time creepy alien creatures who eat people alive. Gemina is the sequel to Illuminae, which was alright to me, I didn’t love it and didn’t hate it, and I feel much the same about Gemina.

With the story being told through surveillance video recaps, instant messages, radio communications, and drawings, the format is unique, but the format also keeps the story from having fully formed characters. Since we never actually get to read what the characters are thinking, there’s a wall built between the reader and the characters, and this downside to the format is more apparent in Gemina than it was in Illuminae.

While Illuminae mainly focused on human characters Kady and Ezra, and a fabulous computer named AIDAN, Gemina shifts focus to new characters Hanna and Nik. Hanna is the teenage daughter of the captain, and Nik is the bad boy with a heart of gold. I liked both Hanna and Nik; they were each opinionated and funny, and some of their interactions and scenes I really enjoyed. But, I still don’t feel like I know either of the characters, and Gemina is 659 pages long. This is a problem.

AIDAN appears here briefly, and while he stole the show in Illuminae, here he feels thrown in to give some life into the book. Another issue I had was that the authors use the “dead but not dead” plot device far too many times here. When you pull that stunt multiple times within a book, it makes death meaningless. Ok, the first time, fine you got me. But multiple times later? I no longer care.

And besides the lack of characterization, I also had problems with the formatting. Some of the pages have dark grey print on black paper. This is impossible to read, or maybe this had to do with reading it in hardback vs digital. Perhaps the digital version is easier for this formatting. My hardback copy wasn’t very clearly printed, and much of the text appeared blurry, especially those utilizing the different colors (ie, white text on black paper, dark grey text on black paper). There were also some issues with the binding of the book, where the swirly text would be too close to the center binding, and therefore impossible to read. I don’t feel that the spine of a book should ever have to be broken in order for you to read the book, so this was an execution error, and one that should’ve been caught prior to book production.

Despite my issues with the characterization and the formatting, I did enjoy the story of a Jump Station taken over by space pirates (!), wormholes and different dimensions, and space critters going after people. I’ll go on to read book three when it is released, and I hope that the story brings all the characters that we know together.

Bottom Line: Full of adventure, but lacks in character development.

Links to Gemina on   Amazon |   Goodreads

Links to Illuminae on   Amazon   |  Goodreads

And here’s a link to my mini review of Illuminae

Have you read Gemina? What about Illuminae? Are you looking forward to book three? Do you trust AIDAN?


21 thoughts on “Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files #2)

    1. Yeah, I can see that! I kept waiting for Illuminae to shock me and it never did, although I did love AIDAN. You may want to skip Gemina then – I thought Illuminae was better and the format worked better there.


  1. Lol the format was what had interested me to read the first novel, but I ended up feeling like it just made everything more complex! I stopped midway through Illuminae, although I wish I hadn’t so I could at least give Gemina a try…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you might actually be able to get away with not reading Illuminae before Gemina. Gemina deals with completely different characters, up until right at the end, so you may get spoiled a bit for Illuminae. But honestly, if you couldn’t get through Illuminae, you may not like Gemina. Illuminae was the better book in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I personally *adore* these books. I love epistolary novels and the unique formatting options of these books really catches my eye. That said, I understand what you’re saying about a wall being put up between the reader and the characters. I would have appreciated more of Hanna’s journal entries, or more of Nik’s IMs. Those did a better job showing us the characters.

    This is the first remotely critical review of Gemina I’ve read! I appreciate your honesty. Your explanations are so clear! Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I kind of go back and forth on the format. It’s so clever and unique, but sometimes it feels like it’s trying to hard. Which format did you read the books in? With both books I read the hardcover, and while in Illuminae I thought the hardcover format worked, in Gemina I wonder if the e-book would’ve been the way to go.
      The third entry should be interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read both of them in hardcover. I know that Illuminae was only available as a PDF due to all the images; I wonder if they changed that for Gemina? I feel like I’m struggle with the books in any other format. Particularly when we have those parallel pages between what’s happening to Nik and what’s happening to Hanna. I did a lot of scanning back and forth.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh yeah, those parallel pages were hard to read! I didn’t quite understand how I was to read them – read one page and then the next, or read both at the same time / flipping back and forth? I did the back and forth thing – wonder how it would’ve worked on an e-reader. I was thinking an e-reader would’ve at least had clearer definition between the letters and the pages. My copy of Gemina was blurry which made the reading difficult.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yuck! A blurry copy would have really made it a challenge to read; particularly those parallel pages! What did you end up reading it on, then?
            I read the parallel pages both at the same time, one line all the way across both pages. My friends later recommended reading one page at a time, though. No idea how they are supposed to be read, but it worked for me.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I just read the hardcover and whined about how blurry it was 🙂 It wasn’t so bad on the pages with regular print & color, but the black background and white text or grey text was difficult to read. The black background had bled into the text a bit. Not sure why that was.

              Liked by 1 person

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