Review Blog

Jan 09 2017

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

cover image

Ill. by Marie Lu. The Illuminae Files bk. 2. Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781925266573
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Science fiction. Futuristic space travel. Mystery. Adventure. I was initially reluctant to read this book for review because it contains some features that are not normally high on my favourites list - science fiction based in futuristic intergalactic scenarios and narrrative threads revealed through 'Text Speak'. My nephew had recommended the first book in the series, so I was prepared to persist and after overcoming my initial reluctance, I was swept along in the unusual but compelling story. The story is revealed through a variety of documents, text records, journal entries, briefing notes, and transcripts from video feeds that have been presented in a hearing to uncover truths surrounding a major event occurring on board a space station from the 26th century. We are introduced to several young teens who play pivotal roles in overcoming an elite Strike Team who are duty-bound to wipe them out of existence. The threat of being sucked into space wormholes, losing contact with external rescue options, being attacked by creatures beyond description (that are farmed to produce hallucinogenic drugs), using multifaceted communications systems, and being highly trained in physical combat strategies all are woven together in an action-filled mystery drama. The intricacies of the 25th century world do make this a book to recommend to able readers who can handle the complexities of concepts that astrophysicists might understand (but if like me physics was not your favourite subject, then you can also read this in the same way that you might read fantasy, where the outlandish worlds require leaps of faith).
Interlaced amongst the science fiction drama is also a teen drama, with romance and relationship intricacies as a side issue, and the voice of the teens is humourous and spirited and their behaviour is feisty and they display amazing intelligence as well as combat skills. I imagine that this book will reach cult appreciation status among young teen readers. It is extremely cleverly written, and with visual and artistic renderings of some of the information, it is a multilayered narrative that is innovative and fresh. And even for a resistant reader, it was captivating!
Note: the book has all coarse language 'blacked out' - literally. This does not mean that you cannot determine what the missing words might be, but the reader is saved the offence of the words leaping off the page and attacking sensibilities. [There are still some aspects which could offend - e.g. an earworm virus that plays an offensive 'pop song' repeatedly on the space station is very suggestive, not unlike some popular songs in the 21st century!
Carolyn Hull

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