Gemina by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Space Opera
Gemina was one of the books I was most excited about reading this year. It starts not long after Illuminae ends, while the Hypatia is on its way to the space station Heimdall, and wow, I seriously underestimated Gemina in the beginning! It started off slow and I didn't like the main characters, but over the course of the book they ended up growing on me a lot.
Hanna is the station commander’s daughter who lies to him and sneaks around behind his back, doing a lot of things she shouldn't be doing, and seems really self-absorbed at first. On top of that, at the beginning of the book she is setting up a deal to buy drugs for a party. That brings us to Nik, who is her drug dealer and belongs to a family of crime lords. Nik constantly hits on Hanna, and I'll be honest, it got annoying, and Hanna is not interested because she has a dreamy boyfriend.
After meeting these two I thought it was going to be a really long, disappointing read. But people can redeem themselves, and that's what happens in this book. We find out that there is more to Hanna than we thought. The one problem I have with this is that instead of feeling like I was finding out more about Hanna, it almost seemed like she was replaced by a different character. I think if we had gotten more backstory on her habits and talents in the beginning and less focus on things like what to buy to wear to the party and how she was going to sneak off with her boyfriend, that wouldn't have been the case.
We also eventually get Nik's whole story and despite his family, he doesn't end up being a thug the way he seemed in the beginning. Which also may be a stretch, but I was willing to go with it because it made him likable, but really, guys that come from crime lord families, have been to prison, and have tattoos all over them, generally don't look as adorably cute as the one Hanna drew in her journal.
We are also introduced to Nik's cousin Ella and she ended up being my favorite character in the book. She is essentially the hero of the book, because not much would have been possible without her computer hacking skills.
In Illuminae we got zombies on a space ship (along with the creepy AI AIDAN), and there was a lot of tension in that book with all the zombies lurking about. In Gemina we get aliens on a space station, and while there were a few tense scenes in this book with the alien creatures popping up now and then, it was a little disappointing in that aspect as they are mostly relegated to being a background annoyance throughout a good portion of the book, unlike the zombies who had a more menacing presence in Illuminae. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it, but just not quite as much as Illuminae.
Along with the alien creatures, there is also a special ops team deployed by BeiTech who have taken over the station. (Who are also no match for AIDAN in the insanely creepy department) I thought most of the special ops team was a bit too immature to be adults. I don't see a real special ops team saying or doing some of the things these said and did, but it was a lot of fun watching these folks get picked off one by one
(sometimes more than one) by alien creatures and teenagers, although I
did think they were taken out too easily by the teenagers[ get picked off one by one (sometimes more than one) by alien creatures and teenagers, although I did think they were taken out too easily by the teenagers. (hide spoiler)].
One other thing is, I thought most of the guys in the book (not just the ones on the special ops team) all seemed too alike. There wasn't a lot to distinguish between personalities. And they were always using sexual innuendos which got old.
Those small complaints aside, this book kept me glued to it. It continued to surprise me as I did not see the twists coming, which was the same case with Illuminae[ Have you ever read a book and thought that you should have seen that coming just because of the title of the book? That was the case for me here. (hide spoiler). It was impossible not to compare Gemina to Illuminae, which I thought was close to perfection, so this review has probably come off sounding mostly negative, which probably does this book a bit of a disservice, so I have to add here that Gemina is still above and beyond most of the YA I've read this year or any year for that matter, especially when it comes to space operas. So although I did not enjoy this one quite as much as Illuminae, I think overall both books are pretty ingenious story-wise and format-wise and I enjoyed them both immensely. I do want to point out that these are books that you need to own a hard copy of to get the full experience. An audio book alone would not do it justice at all as you would miss out on the whole experience and it would probably be hard to see some of the pages in ebook form. I'm looking forward to reading book number three next year.
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