GEMINA by Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff: Book Review

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)


Authors: Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff


Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Kids)

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

GEMINA picks up briefly after ILLUMINAE--like as in about five minutes after–but this time our setting is Jump Station Heimdall. Which also just so happens to be where the surviving characters of the previous book are currently headed. *wink wink*

But before they arrive, we get an entirely new story starring some of the characters currently living on Heimdall, and featuring, yet again, another invasion both of the human variety and of the… not-so-human variety. (Haha, you’ll see what I mean when you start reading.)

First and foremost, we are again lead by both a male and female protagonist.

There’s Hanna, daughter of the station’s commander, Charles Donnelly. Upon first impression, she’s your basic privileged white girl, but once you see her in action, she puts all “dumb blonde” stereotypes to rest. She is a strong, intelligent, and resourceful heroine, just like Kady from ILL.

And then there’s Nik, a juvenile delinquent and also… Hanna’s drug dealer. His family, the Malikovs, are members of the infamous gang they call House of Knives, of which Nik begrudgingly is a part of. They’re pretty hardcore. And though she may have a boyfriend, that doesn’t stop Nik from trying to charm his way into Hanna’s life.

Other than Hanna’s boyfriend, Jackson, there are a lot of side characters. There’s another genius hacker–Ella, Nik’s fifteen-year-old cousin, and there is also a large number of “bad guys” that the protagonists and us readers unfortunately get to know. Also, if you remember from ILLUMINAE, a certain someone’s dad lives on Heimdall. 😬

As someone who, surprisingly, loved ILLUMINAE and gave it a full five stars, this sequel was, surprisingly, just as great.

In addition to it still being told in the same unique, refreshing way, there’s still the same classic snarky banter, the same eerie, suspenseful moments, the same brilliant plot twists, and there are even a few improvements from ILLUMINAE.

The first improvement comes from Marie Lu, author of the Legend and the Young Elites trilogies. As well as being an amazing writer, she is just as talented in drawing and provides several illustrations for our viewing pleasure in GEMINA. A great addition on her part. 👍

Before starting this series, though I was incredibly intrigued by the format of the book, I was worried I would have a hard time connecting with the story and its characters because of it. Luckily, that was not the case, and it only gets better in this one–there’s more for you to connect with and relate to. 

For example, the person transcribing all of the surveillance footage. In ILL, the analyst had some personality to him if I remember correctly, but in GEM it really feels as if the guy is giving his stream of consciousness. It may be unprofessional, but he doesn’t edit himself; he talks as if he’s seeing the footage for the first time and can’t hold himself back from giving his immediate opinions on every disgusting, dramatic, or funny event.

For example, here’s one briefing note in particular that will help you understand what I mean:

“BRIEFING NOTE: video journal lifted from Ella Malikova’s personal computer. We had to sacrifice several kittens to ancient bloodgods in order to crack the encryption on this thing. But you know, these particular kittens were jerks, so…”

So, yeah, whoever is putting all of these files together has quite the sense of humor. I guess that could go either way though; I could see it annoying some people, but it truly caught me off guard almost every time, making me appreciate this small addition.

Anyway, I was also worried I wouldn’t connect with the characters as much as I did in ILL, and though I can’t say that I like them just as much (because Kady and Ezra and Aidan are my faaave), I did love them a lot. They’re almost on the same level.

I didn’t think I’d like Hanna, as she seemed self-absorbed and superficial, but she quickly proved me wrong. I mean, the girl played simulation war games to bond with her dad, for crying out loud.

Nik, I liked right off the bat for annoying Hanna. Normally I hate cocky, overconfident characters, but he also had a sense of humility and you could tell he was more than he appeared to be.

I really can’t tell you how much I loved this one–how much I love this series. The plot and the way it intertwines with and builds off of ILLUMINAE is fantastic, but it’s also amazing just on its own. I highly, highly recommend it!

I stayed up all night to read the entirety of this one, and though I can barely keep my eyes open right now, I can still say it was quite worth it! I went ahead and pre-ordered OBSIDIO last week for the “casualty list” contest, and I am now so glad I made that choice; I would have pre-ordered even if that opportunity didn’t exist. Either way, I can’t wait to read it!

Let me know if you’ve read this one, or if you have any recommendations! I’d love to read more books like it. Thanks for reading, and see you soon! 🙂

– Taylor


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