Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Rock the Boat (9781780749815)
When you read a book like Illuminae, you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into creating the format and the story. So much is happening, that you really have to think through your pacing, when to reveal a new twist, when you display emotion and when you pump up the action. So when you then get your hands on the second book in the series, Gemina, you have faith in the sort of book it’s going to be. You don’t write Illuminae as a one-off, or a fluke. You write with a plan, and Gemina will fit into that plan. Usually when I get to read a new book from an author I am a bit worried, I admit. I wonder if I will like it as much, or if the story is going to go in the direction I want it to. There are only a few authors I trust straightaway. The Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff duo writing the Illuminae Files are part of that.
And it was. Awesome. Once again. I just put the two books next to each other and I simply cannot decide which I like more. Which love story (because yes, there is another one at the heart of Gemina) I loved more. For that matter, you cannot really compare the two. Kady and Ezra were exes who were still mad with each other, but also the only one the other has to hold on to. Their hurdles didn’t seem so big in the larger scheme of things. In Gemina we have a bit of a love triangle (don’t run! I swear it’s not a bad one! I hate them as much as you, but here it works very well). Hanna has the option of choosing either her perfect and sweet boyfriend, or the bad boy with the tattoos and soft heart. I actually didn’t know which of the two I was shipping at any given time.
But of course, as with Illuminae, that is only part of the story in Gemina. Here we start out with a world still in order and working the way it should. They are unaware that the Kerenza VI survivors are speeding towards them, trying to outrun death and tell the world what BeiTech did. If you remember, Kady’s father Isaac Grant is on Jumpstation Heimdall, where Gemina takes place. The difference here, right off, is that we have all the players on one space station, instead of spread out across different ships. It proves to be no problem for the collection of electronic files, because once again everyone is being kept on the move.
When the jumpstation is invaded by a BeiTech cleanup-team, Hanna and a few others luckily weren’t where they were supposed to be. Scattered across the station, they try to eliminate the cleaners before they are eliminated themselves. Once again there are a lot of people dying, and true to Illuminae fashion, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff spare no one. Anyone can die at any given time, despite who they are important to. And we know, of course, that there will be some major twists up their sleeves.
The biggest one is also one that I am still not wholly sure of. I wonder if it was necessary, or if they could have used a less outrageous solution to prevent BeiTech from destroying both Heimdall and the incoming Hypathia. But on the other hand, the Illuminae Files is known for its slightly crazy leaps (that dust-stuff was naaaaaasty). We saw it in Illuminae, and here they take it even further. I decided to go with it and accept that it was the best solution for the problem. These authors know what they are doing and just because I might not agree, doesn’t mean I can find a better way to get them out of the corner they write themselves into. Because it does tie in very well with the rest of the story and is the basis for another twist. It’s not as if it came out of the blue.
Speaking of things that were not wholly to my taste, I have another one. Aidan’s chapters. Even within the unique format of the books, these are all even more out there. Typography-wise and spacially. It really does become annoying when you have to co-read two storylines not for a few pages, but for a whopping 34. It’s not easy to read like that and it dragged on far too long in service of writing a bit of a gimmick. That is my opinion, at least. I did think it fit the story very well, and it was quite cool to see how it works out, but it does give you a bit of a headache to read.
I do think these are minor points, it didn’t hurt my score of 5/5 one bit. I loved Gemina as much as I loved Illuminae, and I think that not being able to decide which story I like better means that this is an incredible series. There is no low point, and the conclusion to this trilogy can only become more awesome as we get to see the Illuminae group destroying BeiTech. What a satisfying ending that will be. Will we meet more people? It would be almost impossible to add someone now, but we haven’t met the footage analyst yet, I believe..
I want to end on a tiny shoutout to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, for racking up an impressive count of writer friends. Look to see how many you can find on page 328. And the incredible journal illustrations are done by none other than Marie Lu.