All The Books I Can Read

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Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin
2016, 659p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

The saga that began with breakout bestseller Illuminae continues aboard Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station commander’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 crew 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.

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.

I have to admit, after finishing Illuminae and picking this up I was a bit disappointed when I realised that it wasn’t straight continuing on with Kady Grant and everyone – instead the action moves to the place Kady and those ships from Illuminae were attempting to reach – Jump Station Heimdall so that they can get the word out about what happened on Kerenza.

But – I should’ve known that after Illuminae it would be impossible to be disappointed. This novel introduces the reader to two more sassy teens – Hanna, the daughter of the person basically in charge on Heimdall and Nik, a resident who is part of a very notorious family that are mostly up to no good. Nik is Hanna’s contact for something that she occasionally requires and although he flirts with her, she has a boyfriend, who belongs to the Heimdall security team.

Continuing on from Illuminae in an attempt to leave no survivors from the Kerenza invasion, an elite BeiTech team invade Heimdall and take it hostage and they’ll be ready if the Hypatia carrying Kady Grant ever limps to the station. There area also drones dispatched to take out the Hypatia, which is a research vessel. After the BeiTech crew storm Heimdall, take hostages and start killing people, Hanna goes rogue. Raised by a Commander father who thought that war games and military strategy were both a) a good way to pass the time and b) bonding experiences, Hanna decides to stage a little operation of her own, taking out soldiers where she can and linking up with a few others that don’t want to be caught – including Nik.

Like Illuminae, Gemina is presented as a file comprised of documents, security footage analysis, memos, recordings, emails, chat sessions etc that take place during the invasion of Heimdall. There is a lot of stuff about wormholes which hey, I don’t understand at all but I grasp the danger of things going wrong. Also there’s a kind of alien parasite aboard the Jump Station that are being used for something but are basically abandoned after the invasion and they’re seriously creepy. It’s a very full on story, it felt even more heart stopping that Illuminae – so many different threats from so many different directions and several countdowns that keep everything feeling very fast-paced, like the impending doom is impossibly close. It’s a great atmosphere – this book is almost 660 pages and I plowed through it in a day. I know the format means that pretty much none of the pages are completely filled with text but it’s still a lot to get through and I just couldn’t put it down.

Hanna is pretty badass – she has been roleplaying military strategy and the like with her dad for years and she gets the chance to put it into serious practice here. She’s studied martial arts as well and knows the ship. A new format included here are Hanna’s journal entries which often comprise of sketches (done by author Marie Lu) and they are amazing! I really enjoyed her personality, both before the invasion and even more so after. She’s bored living on Heimdall and occasionally enjoys pushing some boundaries, living a bit. It’s what brings her in contact with Nik, who is kind of a reluctant member of a futuristic Mafia-style family. He’s inked up, like the rest of the clan and they’re involved with some of the seedier things on the Jump Station. Nik enjoys flirting with Hanna and their interactions are quite funny and I think he interests her too even though she has the ‘perfect’ boyfriend in Jackson. At face value, Nik and Jackson would be polar opposites – but Nik’s character definitely has hidden depths.

I said in my Illuminae review that I knew within the first 100p that I would need Gemina right away and I was right. Unfortunately I have to wait until March I think, of next year to get Obsidio, the third installment of the series. This one ends in a way that just leaves you needing more. If someone asked me which one was better,  Illuminae or Gemina, I’m not sure I could say. They’re both amazing and Gemina takes the story of Illuminae and expands the world and the danger.

I’m so glad I joined #TheReadingQuest Challenge because sometimes I just need something like that to give me that push outside of my comfort zone. I have a lot of books to read and it’s true that I do often tend to pick the ones that are familiar genres or shorter reads, just because I know what to expect. But in doing this challenge I’ve remembered how much I do enjoy sci-fi/fantasy novels when I read them and this series, set in space, is definitely one of the few futuristic space dramas I’ve ever read and I love them.

10/10

Book #141 of 2017

I’m counting Gemina towards my participation in #TheReadingQuest Challenge! Given it’s huge page count (659p) I’d be silly not to count it toward the Grind side challenge – read a novel over 500p. In my original TBR I had The Diviners by Libba Bray earmarked for this category but that was before I read Illuminae and decided I’d also be reading Gemina during the challenge timeframe. I figure if I have a book that counts towards a category, I might as well use it!

And my updated character card! Another 10pts earned for a new book completed taking me to 50 overall experience points. Also 66 points added to my health points taking me to 209pts total.

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Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)
Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Allen & Unwin
2015, 599p
Read from my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

One moment, Kady Grant and Ezra Mason have nothing bigger to worry about than each other. Specifically, avoiding each other in the wake of their messy break-up. In the next second, their entire world falls apart.

The year is 2375 and one of the mega-corporations that control much of deep space has just fired the opening salvo in an intergalactic war, destroying Kady and Ezra’s planet. Forced to flee on a small fleet of crippled rescue ships alongside thousands of other refugees, the fear of enemy warships chasing them down is at first all-consuming but soon becomes the least of their worries. A deadly plague is ravaging the refugees on the ships; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be an enemy; and High Command is refusing to acknowledge that there may be a serious problem. As Kady plunges into a tangled web of data in search of the truth, she realises that Ezra is possibly the only person who can help her save the refugees before it’s too late.

I’ve never read anything by either Amie Kaufman or Jay Kristoff before this – both somehow authors that I’ve always had on my radar but just through circumstance, haven’t read. I had seen so much hype and love for this (and the 2nd book in the series, Gemina) but it wasn’t until I saw it on a display shelf at my local library recently that I grabbed it on  whim to see what all the fuss was about. When I signed up for #TheReadingQuest Challenge, I figured that Illuminae was a perfect book to include in that. I could’ve used it for any number of categories really! This challenge has been so good for pushing me to finally read certain books, be they ones already on my shelves or ones that I’ve just been meaning to check out for ages.

Here’s where my problem lies – the problem of how to review this book. It’s quite a difficult book to review but firstly I’m just going to say that: It. Is. Absolutely. Brilliant.

It’s a futuristic epistolary-style novel where all the information is imparted to the reader by way of a large dossier constructed on a hostile invasion of an illegal mining operation taking place on a small planet. It’s comprised of letters/emails, personal journal entries, communications circled aboard spaceships and also viewings of things like security footage.

Kady Grant and Ezra Mason are two teens on that small, invaded planet named Kerenza who have just broken up and are engaged in hostilities. During the invasion they escape their school together but are then rescued onto different ships – Kady onto the science research vessel Hypatia, Ezra onto the battlecarrier Alexander both of which responded to the distress calls coming from Kerenza during the attack. A third ship, Copernicus also responded and now all three carry refugees and information, heading for Jump Station Heimdall where they can relay that information about the attack. All three are also being pursued by dreadnought Leviathan, a ship belonging to the company that authorised and carried out the invasion with the sole purpose of destroying all three ships carrying refugees and leaving no survivors. Where things get complicated is that Alexander was damaged slightly in a battle with the Leviathan and although its artificial intelligence system is self-repairing it seems to be malfunctioning slightly and well, going rogue. Long story short: it’s up to two teenage kids to save as many people as possible and get the limping ships back to Heimdall so that their story can be told.

I think this is the sort of book where either the format will work for you or it won’t. It really, really worked for me and I thought it was a brilliant way to present the story. It gets more and more complex as the story goes on and AIDAN (the Alexander’s artificial intelligence program) begins communicating as well. There are lots of different formats and everything looks like it would if you were reading a file comprised of this information – different handwriting, fonts, files, layouts, email addresses, hacked ID’s etc. There are diagrams of the ships and probably a million other things that I haven’t listed here. Some of my favourites were the analysis of the security cam footage taken from usually the ships and transcribed with humorous detail.

Illuminae has pretty much something for everyone – it’s a crazy space adventure with lots of danger and mystery. Underpinning it all is the connection between Kady and Ezra, who have split for reasons not detailed at the beginning of the book. Their views toward each other are somewhat hostile (Kady to Ezra mostly) but evolve as they reconnect and also begin to realise the seriousness of the situation they’re in. As bad as it seemed in the beginning, it gets much, much worse and both of them play crucial roles in understanding what is happening and their romance is a big motivation for them both. I absolutely loved both Kady and Ezra – their personalities are so well displayed, even through the mediums the authors have used in order to tell the story. And this is such a smart, clever, intricate story – you don’t even realise how clever it is at first. It’s so much more complex and rich than it appears at first glance and the amount of work that must’ve gone into constructing it must be phenomenal. The details is incredible, right down to computer errors, log-ins, just…..everything. I picked up this book late Thursday afternoon and read 100p before going out to dinner. On my way I stopped in at my local bookshop and picked up Gemina because I knew already from that 100p I’d read that I would absolutely 100% need to have Gemina standing by the second I finished this (and I was right).

Even if you think you won’t really like this, try it! I wasn’t sure it was going to be my sort of thing (hence why I grabbed it from the library) but I was absolutely hooked from the first page and now I’ll be buying my own copy of this one to have on my shelf. The third novel Obsidio comes out next year and I would imagine a re-read will be in order before it’s released.

10/10

Book #140 of 2017

Illuminae was read as a part of my participation in #TheReadingQuest Challenge, created by Aentee @ Read At Midnight. The fantastic illustrations are the creation of CW from Read, Think, Ponder. It ticks off the third category on my Mage pathway – Read A Book With A One Word Title.

Here’s my updated character card. 10pts earned for completing another book taking me to 40 experience points and 60 points earned for pages read.

 

 

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