At this point, I’ve just finished Gemina but I’ll keep this review focused on Illuminae. I think I first started on Illuminae right after I finished Cinder so on the 16th of July and was done with it yesterday on the 21st. I started Gemina today (22nd) and I’m done with it before the sun has even set.
//Also to note, I don’t read science fiction neither do I prefer watching science fiction to other genres. Not a fan of Star Wars or Star Trek or any of them big names. But I recently watched Arrival and I loved that. So I don’t know if a sci-fi lover who’s well-read in the genre will appreciate this book to the same extent I did but fact of the matter is that you don’t need to love sci-fi to love this book.//
PLOT: It’s the year 2075. Beitech, a tech company attacks a small planet of Kerenza hoping to destroy them, but nearby spaceships (Hypatia, Corpenicus, Alexander) attend to the SOS and take in refugees. These refugee spaceships intend to travel to Heimdall Station (a space…city?) that doesn’t seem to be responding to SOS calls – maybe Beitech got them too. But Heimdall, if it’s still standing, is their only shot at getting help and telling others of the attack. But Beitech is hell bent on not leaving any survivors. But having the Beitech’s battleship (AKA Lincoln) hot on their trails is the not the only issue because the refugee spaceships seem to be turning on one another.
OOooooooooooOOOOOoooooOOOooo. So much plot I’m telling you. So many damn things that’s going down in one book. I’ve never had this much action being fed to me at one go but I totally love it. So much death, I tell you and none of it unnecessary< those are the best kinds of deaths. (But then, a certain lack of death does make you want more deaths)
The reason why I was slower with Illuminae was not because I didn’t like it. No, trust me the characters were hella entertaining. The different way the story was formatted in interview documents, journal entries, CCTV surveillance footage (described in prose format by surveillance lab techs) was hella interesting. The reason why I took it a little slow was because of the love story at the beginning of Illuminae. I truly do care for our love interests but I was a little meh.
Until shit started to go down yo. Until the refugee ships started going off on each other.
After I came upon AIDAN, I could not put the book down. From his introduction you know something’s a bit cuckoo with AIDAN but bruh AIDAN is a different kind of cuckoo. I’ll tell you this, AIDAN’s an AI (artificial intelligence). And you know what I love seeing? Super smart AIs becoming humanised with emotions – be it positive or downright evil. But still not having the capacity to fully comprehend the extent of human unpredictability.
There were quite a few plot twists, but rather than twists I’d say they were some damn good plot developments. I loved the way things happened.
Our main lead is Kady Grant, a seventeen year old computer whiz who’s kickass AF. Her personality is great and certainly well-established given the unusual formatting of the story. Actually, all the characters and their motivations are well established given the formatting of the story. You can follow everyone’s motivations and the risks everyone is willing to front.
There are quite a lot of characters but you’ll know who stands with who.
I actually really liked the formatting. It felt like I was getting into everyone’s head without getting into their heads. For example when the lab tech is explaining the actions of Kady through the CCTV footage they have of her. We learn all we need to know about Kady’s qualities and character traits from the lab tech’s point of view but the lab tech has such an entertaining voice. Of course at some parts it’s too heavy, especially with journal entries whose main purpose is to give us background info on what the characters went through so as to move the plot along. But that’s fine. This is a plot heavy book dripping in action. There’s no time to waste on setting up scenarios to showcase characters’ backstories. If their backstory can be done in a journal entry so be it.
Before you proceed there is a spoiler. One secondary character’s death that happens on Pg 179/599, which is relatively early on in the book and doesn’t really affect the plot per say but will hurt your feels and if I may daresay, will hurt your feelings the most compared to any other thing that happens in this book.
But anyway lets just look at the low ratings on Goodreads.
- Detachment from the characters. I do agree. Despite the deaths, I did feel like an acute pain for a handful but nothing more than that (Jimmy McNulty can have my heart). But I don’t necessarily think that should be a reason to shit on this book. The book is about an invasion that’s already happened (Kerenza) and an invasion that’s happening at the same moment (refugee ships against each other) when the people on the spaceships are worrying about an impending invasion (Lincoln coming after them). You have enough info on where all the characters stand and just how much is at stake if they don’t work this shit out. So this book does not really explore the relationships people have with each other. You just know where they stand, what their opinion on someone else is and what the main reason is for such an opinion. I found it relatively easy to look past the detachment I felt from the characters. My focus was on the shit that’s going down.
- The romance. Between Kady and Mason. Not going to lie even I was put off. They share the cringe-iest text messages of proclamations of love endlessly. Like stahp we get it already. But I’ll let it slide. They were on a spaceship on their way to possible death so, fine.
- The formatting. Well. The formatting is different. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This story is basically a report someone has compiled of just what happened on Kerenza and the refugee ships for some Director’s use. Just the idea that you have thousands of text messages, journal entries, CCTV footages with a narrator, email chains… and having to sieve out the important bits from all of that information in a systematic, (somewhat)chronological order… damn. That’s some report. I’m sure AIDAN must have aided (< See what I did there, anyway) to sift through the thousands of data. Given this is a report and my previous point on the cringe-worthy text messages, you might wonder why the eff is Kady and Mason’s love proclamations being told to the Director. Keep wondering until you read the book.
- The last plot twist. I have just a slight dislike towards it. I would have been totally okay with that death. But whatever, it’s fine that it didn’t happen. It doesn’t take me out of the story. I can see the necessity of not having that death. It seems logical. Don’t really have that big of a deal with it.
But lets go back to the big question:
So which spaceship, if any, will make it to Heimdall if Heimdall even exists?
Heh. Give this book all the damn stars. Pick this book up.
Review for Gemina
Review for Obsidio