Review: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Illuminae and Gemina

As a sci-fi fan, I’ve wanted to read these books for quite a while. However, while I’ve seen a lot of great sci-fi movies and TV shows, books in this genre are often disappointing, because they’re frequently poorly written, predictable and/or unoriginal. So I did have a few reservations concerning the Illuminae Files. But when I received my copies, I became even more interested. These books are so gorgeous! Photos don’t do them justice. And there’s something really fresh about the whole design. Should you want to get them, I would definintely recommend getting the hardcovers!

Illuminae

Format

This book was surprisingly good! It looked fascinating enough, but I was afraid the format would be too distant, since the book consists of a dossier full of different datafiles. The idea is that a company hired ‘The Illuminae Group’ to acquire information, and they hand over a dossier. That dossier is what you’re reading. It consists of several files, such as datalogs, emails, and chat conversations. Such a thing could easily become too business-like, but if anything, it made the story feel more realistic instead of less. Also, you feel more connection to the characters. I think that’s because we’re used to reading formats like this in day-to-day life, so it’s very imaginable why and how someone would write them.

Characters

Kady made for a very real, very relatable main character, and she was such a strong, independent girl! I thought her character development was done pretty well, except for one thing: she got back together with Ezra without much of a fuss (I know this is a minor spoiler, sorry). But I guess having your home planet invaded does something to a person… As you might have already guessed, I didn’t love Ezra. He was pretty annoying, and I didn’t really see his appeal. AIDAN on the other hand, the artificial intelligence computer, was such an interesting character. Reading his thought processes not only provided more insight in how advanced AI works, but also – especially – in the morality of AI. Because AIDAN may be smarter than every human being alive, but that’s definitely not necessarily a good thing…

Plot

This book was deliciously challenging to keep up with. There were some plottwists I did not see coming… My main problem with sci-fi books, as I already stated, was that they’re often poorly written, predictable and/or unoriginal. The writing in this book was really good, especially considering the different genres the authors had to blend together. Furthermore, the story was in no way predictable, except for some minor storylines. When it comes to being original, I have to say a lot of sci-fi stories follow the same sort of premisse, and so does this one. But the format definitely keeps it interesting.

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Gemina

Characters

This book was even better than Illuminae, mostly because the characters were more interesting. In Illuminae, Kady was a great character, but most of the other characters were fairly flat and/or annoying. In Gemina, there’s a lot more diversity, and a lot of the characters are a lot more rounded.

I was a little wary about the main character, Hanna, at first. She was presented as this spoiled rich girl, but it quickly became clear that there was a lot more to her. She turned out to be at least as strong and bad-ass as Kady, and probably more interesting. The two biggest side characters, Nik and his cousin Ella, were especially interesting. Nik was an unusual character because he was basically a teenage criminal, and Ella provided more diversity as a disabled character (she can’t walk) who’s strong and independent nevertheless.

Plot

Again, there were quite a few plottwists I did not see coming… This book is a good example of why I love sciencefiction; it was realistic and clever and imaginable, while it was also really suspenseful. I especially loved the interaction between Hanna, Nik and Ella. Also, Leanne Frobisher made for a good villain, but it would be nice to know a little more about her motives. But especially creepy is the man who works for Frobisher, who states the people at Jump Station Heimdall aren’t his enemies, they’re simply obstacles. Because isn’t that even worse? All in all, it’s a pretty suspenseful book, probably even more so than Illuminae (because don’t zombies grow old pretty fast, even in space?).

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Conclusion

This kind of books are the reason I love sciencefiction! These books certainly gave me everything I love about my favorite movies and shows! Gemina left quite a few mysteries unsolved, so I can’t wait for the third book in the Illuminae Files trilogy to be released later this year! I’m especially looking forward to seeing all the main characters, so both Kady and Ezra and Hanna, Nik and Ella, combined. It can’t be anything but extra bad-ass. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you should definitely read these books!

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9 thoughts on “Review: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Illuminae and Gemina

  1. Great review! 🙂 I’ve only read Illuminae but I’m happy to hear you enjoyed Gemina even more! Really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So the ending of Gemina!! I love these books, just everything and that’s why I bought both of them in hardcover! I saw them in December but didn’t get them right away, I had two coupons and that’s when I decided to get them and it was a great choice. I am so excited for the third one and can’t wait to see what they tell us. You know, I just realized the zombie kind people were a major thing in the last book lol, so different but it’s still the same story. I love when they do that.

    Liked by 1 person

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