Gemina (Illuminae Files 02)

Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Illustrator: Marie Lu
Page Count: 659
Rating: A+++
Keywords: Non Traditional, Adventure, Survival, Space, Multiverse Theory, SPACE SNAKES
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Younger Readers: Curse words are blacked out. Sexual references are present though activity between present characters does not go past kissing. Sexual song lyrics. Drug use. Murder. Violence. 

The Illumae Files is by far one of the best series I have ever read. It is innovative, unique, and completely enthralling. If you haven’t yet, check out my review for Illuminae (book one in the series) here.

First off, this series is gorgeous. And while the covers are truly unique and beautiful, it is far more than just this. The design of the interior sounds odd at first. A science fiction story told through sporadic journal entries, instant messages, computer transcripts, and video surveillance should be difficult to follow. Perhaps even boring. Or so I thought. It is truly enchanting and forces the reader into the story so much more than I have ever experienced with a traditional novel, play, or script. You’ll be so enthralled that you will hardly notice having to turn the book upside down, sideways, and back right side up during the reading experience. 

Okay into the actual story. I have been in a bit of a reading slump for the past month and needed something to recharge my love for reading. This did the trick.

For the first 100 pages I found myself truly missing Kady and Ezra from the first Illuminae Files book. I just could not connect myself to the new cast of characters or ship. Some other reviews I have read for the book had similar issues, rating this one lower simply because they missed the first book.

After the first 100 pages there is no turning back. The action picks up considerably and we begin to see more of the complexities of each character. I will admit each has their off-putting aspects when you first meet them but this does wear off until they are just as endearing as the cast from book one. The heroes constantly have you at the edge of your seat, desperately waiting to see if they make it or not while the villains have you gritting your teeth, fuming. I enjoy a clear cut bad guy. Falk will be your go to character to hate.

Hanna is different from Kady in many aspects, but they are still both very strong and rebellious female protagonists. When we are first introduced to the tall, thin, blonde commander’s daughter she seems like the stereotypical spoiled rich girl. As we move through the book she is shown to be compassionate, far wiser than expected, and very strong. Hanna is no damsel in distress, but she is allowed to have emotions and they make her even stronger. If you like a kickass heroine, she’s your girl.

Initially, I would have picked Jackson as Ezra’s mirror in this book. However, he ends up being more of a secondary character. Our other primary characters that we interact with are Nik and his cousin Ella. I never expected to actually enjoy reading about a cartel family. They are funny, endearing, and have strict moral codes concerning honor and family. If you’re into bad boys with tattoos and sweetheart demeanors, Nik is your guy. If you enjoy oddball characters with foul mouths, snarky humor, extreme sarcasm, and incredible hacking skills you’ll adore Ella. 

Mystery is still a major part of this installment. It was clearly planned out amazingly, small hints sprinkled throughout but not so obvious that they are hitting you in the face. Everything stays just perfectly vague the entire time so that you are maddeningly confused and desperate for answers. Then when everything is revealed? Absolutely beautiful and so satisfying. 

The outright horror aspects that we saw in the first book were not quite as strong in this second installment. This one is more creepy and mysterious than outright scary. I did not have any nightmares but it was still a fun ride that gave me the heebie jeebies. 

Sometimes when you’re reading a book you can clearly imagine the author chuckling to themselves as they write, knowing their words are going to rip out your heart and destroy you emotionally. Think George R. R. Martin. There were definitely a few of those moments in this book. I was crying, angry, devastated, laughing, and completely lost in short succession. This was especially true towards the last quarter of the book. Pretty sure my family thought I was losing my mind #feels 

Getting into this story and this book series is not a problem at all. It actively engages the reader to the point you are literally flipping the book around at all angles, following the script as it flows beautifully and non traditionally over the page. You’ll love and hate characters with a passion and never know just where the tale will end up.

I am not a science fiction fan traditionally and yet I still absolutely adore this series. There is science and the limited nature of space as a setting. However, I do not feel critical of either of these the way I normally would when reading sci-fi.

Whether you are an avid reader or more reluctant, this is a great series to pick up. It is easy going and fast paced. Often described as “genre breaking” it will undoubtedly appeal to a broad audience. Dark subject matter is countered by witty humor and constant sarcasm. While it is technically a young adult novel it is great for older readers as well, avoiding many of the genre’s typical annoyances for many readers. 

I highly recommend checking out this series!

Just one more year until I can get my hands on book three. *dramatic sigh*