Saturday, August 27, 2016
On the Jump Station Heimdall. Hanna Donnelly is struggling to keep a social life. Most of her time is consumed with martial arts training, battle tactics exercises, and acting like the perfect Captain's daughter. Behind her prestigious father's back, she buys illicit drugs from a flirty Russian mob boy name Niklas and spends time with her boyfriend Jason. When the station is boarded by hostile but very organized military-like forces, only the teens caught outside of the main areas of the ship can work against this seemingly unstoppable force set on destroying them and their home.
Gemina starts where Illuminae left off, but with a whole different set of characters. Hanna Donnelly is amazing. She's a normal teenage girl with a boyfriend, a love for fashion, and a journal with all her thoughts and feelings. You would think she was a spoiled brat. She kind of is, but she's also much more than that. On top of that, she's trained in a variety of different martial arts styles, studied Sun Tzu's Art of War, and regularly works through war strategies with her father. Despite her looks, she can take of herself and employs her skills liberally throughout the novel. She takes advantage of the enemy's perception of her and uses every opportunity to her advantage. Despite her toughness, she's still a teenage girl with the same thoughts and fears. Throughout the entire novel, she's terrified and angry, but channels that in helpful ways. When she can, she takes time to rest and process her feelings by writing or drawing in her journal.
Nik is an unexpected character who belongs to the Russian mafia, shown through intricate and bold tattoos on his body. He just served a couple of years in jail and is on the ship to help his uncle harvest dust from parasites inside cows. It's more disgusting than it sounds and those parasites make a guest appearance when they are forgotten. Anyway, I would have thought Nik was a hardened criminal type, but he proves to be much more sensitive than that. His backstory is heartbreaking, but he hides his pain behind a sarcastic veneer to keep people at bay. The villainous characters invading the ship are interesting in their own right. They are all adults seasoned in the field of battle paid by Biotech to clean up their mess. They are all complicit in this murderous plot, but they have different motivations for being there, temperaments, and areas of expertise. The leader is a frightening combination of crazy, though, and dedicated.
As with Illuminae, the story is told in chat messages, dossiers, descriptions of video footage, and court transcripts. I could easily see this as a suspenseful siege film. The variety of different media used to tell the story lends a cool visual quality. I expected the book to more horror based like the last one, but the parasites were the most horrific thing and didn't play a huge role. The tension of hiding in a ship trying to avoid well trained soldiers was very suspenseful and thrilling. Gemina is in a way larger than the last book because of a discovery near the end of the novel. It provided a unique opportunity for unconventional storytelling that I greatly enjoyed. Although I thought Illuminae was a teensy bit better, Gemina is a suspenseful, exciting science fiction tale that continues the story and leads into the third novel in the series. It also subverted my expectations time and time again, making it fun rollercoaster ride of a book. I'm cursing myself for reading the book so early because now I have wait even longer to read the conclusion.
My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins