Thursday 29 December 2016

Gemina: The Illuminae Files_02

Gemina: The Illuminae Files_02 by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (Allen and Unwin) PB RRP $22.99  ISBN 9781925266573

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

Drone attacks, double agents, dangerous parasites and damaged wormholes: Gemina is a worthy sequel to the award-winning international bestseller, Illuminae. As per its prequel, the novel is presented as a file comprising communications in various forms – emails, radio messages, tribunal transcripts, instant messages and surveillance footage summaries. (Fans of the flawed artificial intelligence system from Illuminae will be pleased to recognise AIDAN’s input too!)

The Gemina file also contains pages from the private journal of its protagonist, Hanna Donnelly, whose artistic black and white sketches (by bestselling author Marie Lu) grace the pages of the novel throughout. The novel’s creative design truly renders it a work of ‘science fiction meets art’. The text can be mirrored, upside-down, circular … even sideways. There are graphic explosions and artworks comprised of binary numbers. This is a novel that will catch the attention of all your fellow commuters on the train (who will crane their necks, curiously, for a glimpse of the title)!

The Illuminae file explained the atrocities committed by BeiTech on Planet Kerenza. The Gemina file is about BeiTech’s assault on the space station Heimdall and the approaching Hypatia (with Illuminae survivor, Kady Grant, onboard). The story commences with the trial of the BeiTech Industries director (and an immediate dawning on the reader’s part of who was behind the attacks). It is very much the story of two new characters, Hanna and Nik, and their attempts to save themselves during the attack on Heimdall. Plus their station crew. And the Hypatia survivors. Oh and, as it turns out, the entire universe. Easy, right?

This fast-paced, 659-page thriller is bound to leave you wanting more. I’d highly recommend reading Illuminae first – not everything is explained in the sequel. It’s also nice to feel an attachment to the report writers, as well as have an appreciation for AIDAN’s eccentricities! Author team, Kaufman and Kristoff, have written another superbly layered novel, calling on us to analyse the reports in our own way … all the while remembering that we’re only being shown what somebody else wants us to see. The amusing banter between the characters is quite enjoyable … as is the moment when the authors kill off a couple of other bestselling YA authors. (Gasp!)

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