Not only did I enjoy Illuminae myself, but it accomplished a near miracle, which is getting my son who will normally read only graphic novels and audiobooks for pleasure to read it to himself. All 599 pages. I might have mentioned this before, but it is pretty miraculous in my universe. Miraculous enough that I went on to read Gemina right away, so I could screen it before he got to it. Plus, I’d heard this book was even better.
Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Illustrated by Marie Lu. Random House Teens, 2016.
Gemina is set in the same world as Illuminae, in the jump station the beleaguered ships of that book are heading for. It has therefore a new cast of characters, with only some brief appearances by Kady.
Our heroine is Hanna Donnelly, the blond and blue-eyed captain’s daughter. She’s fond of using her journal to draw pictures of her boyfriend, junior officer Jackson Merrick. (Actually drawn by Marie Lu.) She also has a black belt and a strong background in strategy, thanks to her father. Unknown to him, her celebrations with her friend include using illegal “dust”, a powerful hallucinogen.
That dust is provided to her by Nik Malikov, secretly on board with some of his Russian mafia family members. Hanna makes it clear that his crush on her is hopeless, but that doesn’t keep him from flirting with her with every text. She doesn’t really want to know the history behind his tattoos, or where the dust actually comes from…
Because it turns out that dust production is disgusting, and involves eel-like parasites called lamia, whose skin coating will make you think you’re seeing God as they invade your brain. Nik’s family is raising them in cows in a disused hold of the ship.
Hanna may be getting ready for the big Earth Day party, but regular countdown pages let us know that both the Hypatia and an assault fleet are on the way. A hole with an increasingly large dark stain in the corner of her journal is ominous as well. We know the Beitech Corporation doesn’t want any word of its nefarious actions in the first book to get out.
When things start going very far south, very quickly – add an attack squad to the lamia, an earworm in all the station’s speakers, and a defective wormhole – it’s up to Hanna and Nik to save the day, with help from Nik’s whip-smart wheelchair-bound younger cousin Ella, as well as Isaac Grant, a rare capable adult.
This is another fast-paced sci-fi thriller with aspects to appeal to just about everyone able to put up with the high amounts of violence. The characters are even better rounded out here, I thought, the plot twistier, and the creative premise of Illuminae brought to even higher levels. There’s plenty of room for a third book here, and I will happily read it when it comes out.