Synopsis: The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Timesbestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”
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 Illuminaecontinues 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.
Why is this synopsis so long.
I say like I’m not about to launch into one of the most unnecessarily lengthy reviews of my young but still wonderful career.
Ah, good fantasy. (Please read with the exact voice and emotional expression of the Spongebob Squarepants narrator soothingly intoning, Ah, Goo Lagoon. If you do not know this reference, please go educate yourself on the tenets of modern culture,
you uncultured swine.) BUT WAS IT ACTUALLY GOOD FANTASY?! Now I regret typing that long Spongebob allusion. But not enough to remove it. It took too long. I cannot waste these amazing pop-culture references.
I am very aggravated and confused. I am a heap of conflicting emotions. (Yes, a heap. That is not a pile of sundress and cynicism and sort-of-blonde hair in the corner, as you may have presumed, but rather an overwhelmed Me. Please do not be alarmed, for this is my natural state.)
Quick concept of what Gemina is: like, five hundred years in the future. Humans livin’ in space. Lots of tech-y, future-y stuff like black holes and jump stations and complicated maybe-science I don’t understand. We follow Hannah (?), our main character/pretty lil rich girl; Nik, her sexual harasser who is supposedly charming; and Ella, THE LOVE OF MY LIFE. We’ll get into all that.
Sometimes me and Gemina got along like a sense of humor and the movie The Big Sick (which is to say, very well) but I also had SO MANY PROBLEMS WITH IT.
(The Big Sick, on the other hand, caused me neither emotional trial nor emotional tribulation. Just an all-out fantastic movie. Do I have a bigger crush on Kumail Nanjiani or Emily V. Gordon? Who’s to say.) (Did Emily V. Gordon like my tweet? Yes. I’m cool. I’m fine. I’m casual. What? No, there was no squealing to be heard. That would be ridiculous. Not chill at all.)
The Big Sick love-rant over. Unless you don’t see it. In which case I will pen a review of The Big Sick, drive to your hometown, take you to a showing of said film with all necessary force, and whisper the review of the movie to you during the quiet parts of this same movie. (And on top of it, you will be the one paying for the tickets. Movie theaters are expensive and I am not made of money.)
Okay. I’m done. I really am.
But go see The Big Sick.
Let’s start with the good stuff, I guess. (About Gemina. You know, the book I’m allegedly reviewing.)
Time has passed, I am wearing rose colored glasses (and rocking them, obvs) and I’m mostly remembering the good stuff. Good sign for this book! Let’s talk about fun and nice things.
1. THESE BOOKS ARE JUST SO CLEVER.
You really have to hand it to them. Like, my bois (the term “boi” has always been gender neutral to me) Kristoff and Kaufman straight KILLED. IT. in terms of formatting. All those chat logs and sketches (new addition to this book) and (view spoiler). Loved it, man. It feels way smoother than the Illuminae formatting. And don’t even get me started on AIDAN, the semi-evolved computer whose nefarious and creepy inner workings are…used to summarize surveillance footage. But we’re veering toward negatives so I’ll move on. Long story short, why do traditionally-formatted books even still exist?!
2. I HAVE A NEW BFF.
I would say “gf,” but she’s fifteen years old and also I’d rather just become her than anything else. Her name is Ella Malikova and she is a hacker. (YOU SHOULD ALL KNOW BY NOW THAT I AM SUCH A SUCKER FOR A HACKER. Is there any better plot than a heist with a hacker character? Baby Driver should’ve had a hacker.) (Also, see Baby Driver too.) Anyway, she is so funny and badass and I love her so much. #GiveEllaMalikovaHerOwnBook2k17
3. This book be funny
There’s some made up slang in here, which I like. (Somehow it makes sense with context clues but also isn’t overly similar to the slang of today?? Amazing.) Shenanigans ensue with an extremely explicit song about lollipops. And every time Hannah (is there an H or no? Can’t remember), Ella and Nik have their lil instant-message conversations, my cold and bitter heart warms ever so slightly.
4. Total mind f*ck
There are some bad side effects to this bullet point, but also I spent most of the book like OH MAN WHAT IS GOING ON WHAT’S HAPPENING NEXT IS THIS REAL SCIENCE OR QUASI-SCIENCE EITHER WAY IT’S GOING OVER MY HEAD AND IT SOUNDS SMART SO I’M ALONG FOR THE RIDE. YOU GUYS JUST KEEP CRAWLIN’ THROUGH AIR VENTS AND PUNCHIN’ BAD GUYS.
5. It started off SO FREAKING WELL
I’ve been in an on-and-off reading slump for approximately 9 months, and when I first picked this up I wanted to do NOTHING BUT READ IT.
That honeymoon period faded.
But we’ll get there.
Ugh WHY DO THERE EVEN HAVE TO BE NEGATIVES TO THIS BOOK?!
It’s time to get into…THE BAD. (Insert ominous lightning bolt and thunder here, as if we are looking at a haunted house in a Scooby Doo cartoon.)
THE NOT SO GOOD
Okay. So I know I just adoration-rambled about Ella for a hot Texas minute. This must be very confusing for you. I am sorry.
BUT ELLA IS THE ONLY CHARACTER WHO ACTUALLY EXISTS TO ME.
I found it totally impossible to connect to the actual main characters, Hannah (IS THERE AN H OR NOT) and Nik. Nik, in particular, was SO BORING. I felt like they were kind of just like “He is a bad boy. Here is his tragic backstory.” And then left it at that and hoped for the best. Hanna (I looked it up, no H) was similarly flat but less trope-y. Just somewhat nonexistent.
You can never have enough flat female protagonists!!!!!!!!!
2. The…old characters………
If you have read my Illuminae review, you know that I hate Kady, the first book’s version of Hanna.
And guess who shows up pretty goddamn often?
If you guessed “that pink haired, defined-by-her-effortless-beauty identity-less buffoon,” you are correct.
If you guessed “said buffoon’s love interest, who Emma actually likes, and is charming and funny and has a – gasp! – personality,” you would, of course, be wrong.
Many generations ago, my ancestors betrayed the ancestors of every young adult author ever. The retribution is that I may never find literary happiness.
Also, AIDAN doesn’t feel as fun. (Insert whining noise here.)
3. ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE LOVE FROM ALL SIDES
In Illuminae, I had to deal with the girl-so-effortlessly-beautiful-at-least-three-men-are-silently-pining-away-just-ready-to-martyr-themselves-whenever-given-the-chance trope. Abundantly.
AND IT GODDAMN REAPPEARS IN THIS BOOK, TOO.
Hanna is dating the ~most handsome guy~ on the entire!! jump station. Nik, also pretty hot, supposedly, is just pinin’ away. Everyone in the whole effin’ universe knows she’s hot sh*t.
Yes, we get Ella, who isn’t described exclusively in terms of her heart-stopping, universe-shaking, wormhole-damaging beauty. But that still doesn’t mean I want an unbelievably gorgeous girl who just ~doesn’t know she’s beautiful~ in every flippin’ book.
4. TOO MUCH LOVE, PT 2
THERE’S SO MUCH ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK. And there was so much romance in Illuminae. And all signs point to an equally immense sh*t ton of lovin’ in Obsidio, the upcoming third book, too.
Romance is fine as a subplot. But I’m not here for some interstellar romancing. I just want some badassery…in space.
5. THIS LOVE SUCKS: A Companion Novel to the “Too Much Love” Duology
So, at the beginning of this book, Hanna is getting it on with the aforementioned hunk-boyfriend. Nik is her drug dealer. Nik constantly sexually harasses her and repeatedly asks her out despite her consistent lack of interest. At one point, Hanna points out that Nik doesn’t know anything about her except that she’s pretty. And he’s like “aw 😦 yeah i guess u hot kween.”
And then she’s all, ok, kiss my face for the rest of the book.
Which…what? Am I supposed to find this CUTE? I am supposed to “““ship””” “““this”””???? Bleh. Just punch more bad guys, please.
6. Is this just Illuminae?
An unlikely romance. A file folder containing documents that delineate the attempts of a corporation to kill civilians, being presented in order to prosecute that corporation. A hot, badass girl. A hot, badass boy. AIDAN. An unnamed employee taking ““humorous”” notes on surveillance footage. Lots of quasi-science and bad guy killing. A really gross and unexpected biohazard to add a twist of fun.
Like, did I read the same book twice? And the third book will just be me reading it a third time?
7. It’s a spoiler,
and I am nothing if not incredibly considerate (don’t @ me) so I won’t include it here. But you can go click (view spoiler) to your cute lil heart’s content in my Goodreads review. Also, gifs! But before you go…do the kind thing and like this post. Please. I have a family to feed. (Not really but I keep buying slices of pizza and Panera mac and cheese as if I am feeding a family despite severe budget restrictions.)
8. I love mild confusion!!!!
Luckily, I truly enjoy being constantly perplexed! I find a light dusting of befuddlement to be invigorating. Feeling utterly uncertain for 700 pages? Count me the hell in!
8. These people have GOT to be superheroes
For roughly three-quarters of this book, our three main characters (plus, like, 200 side characters), go without eating or sleeping. One (1) character uses a bathroom one (1) time. These fools are constantly sprinting and crawling and shooting and fighting and experiencing one emotional trauma after the next. But no, feel free to mention one sleepless night and hint at the ingestion of raw meat and call it a fictional day.
9. ok…and the formatting wasn’t perfect
I know most people love surveillance-footage guy, the unnamed dude (maybe just person? Can’t remember if the character’s gendered) who summarizes the video from security tapes.
I don’t love him, BECAUSE HE SHOWS UP ALL THE TIME IN THIS BOOK. I needed more formatting variety.
Also, they censor the curse words in this series. What was charming in Illuminae is really distracting here. I don’t want to take 17 seconds every other page to try to analyze whether that blacked-out word is f*ck or sh*t.
And it’s not like the court documents of today black out curse words. Right?
10. One thing this review and this book have in common:
They’re WAY TOO LONG. Gemina dragged. Not as bad as I’m sure this review is dragging, but still, man, it dragged.
Bottom line: This was a very strange experience. I have no clue what to rate it. Bits were four stars, even five, but also three and two and one.
I guess I just have to give it that old placeholder rating of three stars.
Still read this book if you feel like it.