“I can’t make the forest grow faster because I want it to. I can’t will it to grow. It takes time. I hoped it could happen during my lifetime, but I don’t think it can. All I can do is plant some seeds, take care of the seedlings, and hope someone else does it after I’m gone.” Continue reading
“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all of my life, right up until I knew it was ending.”
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A world where you can live the life you have always dreamed of, to escape a reality that is a crumbling away from neglect. With most of the world’s resources gone, humans have retreated into the virtual world of the OASIS. There, you can be who you want and do what you want. When the creator of OASIS, Halliday, passes away, he leaves behind clues to find his hidden Easter egg. The reward? All of his assets (a multi-billion dollar company) and ownership of the OASIS. Dripping in 1980’s nostalgia, this book follows Wade Watts on his search for the clues.
The world of OASIS is a fascinating a magical universe that just pulls you in from the get-go. Countless number of weird worlds where countless numbers of fantasy dreams.
The 80s nostalgia that is this book is perfectly fine… if you are nostalgic for the 80s. This nostalgia is absolutely a driving factor in the book, reminiscing author to character to reader, about beloved pop culture items is one the of more appealing factors of this story. So for someone that grew up after the 80s and therefore has no, or at least very few, memories of any of the things referenced, it felt like being on the outside of an exclusive club at times. About 90% of the book is references and while they are central to the plot, (due to the fact that Halliday loved the 80s) there was a distinct disconnect for us at times in the story.
The story and puzzles can be a lot of fun. While again there was a disconnect at times, they still came across as challenging and exciting. Any action scenes are action packed and have the element of cool video game references. There were a few times where although the name of a game meant nothing to us, the idea of bringing these older games to life in a virtual reality was very intriguing.
On the character of Wade Watts is where we see one of our problems. Namely that he is not very likable. He is not a bad guy, but he comes across very high on himself. There is a scene about 50 pages in, where he and his best friend Aech tear into another character about how he wasn’t cool enough for not knowing 80’s trivia. While the other character was a jerk, this still did not look good on our main character at all. He says talks about how he is bullied but then proceeds to bully the other guy.
Furthermore, the whole idea that if you don’t know literally as much as it is possible to know about a thing then you are not a true fan is one of the more toxic things in gaming and fandom so the fact that the main character was perpetuating this was a major black mark against him.
Throughout the book he does good things, but there never comes a point where we connect with him. You may agree that what he does is right but that just makes him a protagonist, not a character.
Other characters, Art3mis, Aech, Daito,and Shato are all fleshed out and great charatcers. From their personalities to their motivations, they have good backstorys that make you care about them and who they are.
Ready Player One is a good time, no alcohol required. The bad guys are your typical bad guys but they fit the vibe of this story. I never knew how much I wanted to see Mechagodzilla fight other video game characters. I know now how awesome it is. I did enjoy this book, but be warned if you are not a fan of nostalgic 80’s. Honestly, the movie did better at connecting with me on that front.
Round Two was more of a charm for me. I am happy that I did finish this book and got through the things that made me stop the first time. More than anything else that impacts my rating for this book is simply the fact that I am not an 80s kid. I lived only a few months in the 80s and the movies and games from that decade were just not something that I grew up on so the nostalgia factor that I think this book relies on heavily to connect with its readers did nothing for me. I can’t hold that against the book or say that makes it a bad book, just that it was not the book for me.
There are some scenes and some themes that I absolutely enjoyed though. I really appreciated that one of the major messages of the book was that video games are great and all but you can’t ignore the real world in favor of them. Reality has to take precedence over an imaginary world.
“You know better than anyone what I am. Every story needs its monster, Kady. But this story will end soon.”
Check here for the podcast discussion over the entire series (spoiler free)!
After months of grueling space travel aboard a damaged ship, the survivors aboard the Hypatia have finally made it to Heimdall waystation. Only to find not the salvation they were looking for but survivors of another part of BeiTech’s attack. Their only hope now is to return Kerenza IV, the place it all began, and hope that there is something there that will allow them to save themselves.
This was an amazing, emotional roller coaster of a book. The star of this whole show has got to be the AI that lost his mind, AIDAN.
“I am not good.
Nor am I evil.
I am no hero.
Nor am I villain…
AIDAN is creepy, weird, awkward, and dark. Ultimately, he wants what he is programmed to do: to see that the fleet survives. But the things that he does to that end are horrible…but it is difficult to argue the necessity of his choices. A point which he brings up many times: he will be evil so that others do not have to be.
Honestly, probably the only thing that we particularly were not crazy about with this book was that the ending was not quite as bittersweet as the tone of the rest of the series would indicate. It was a little bit too much sunshine and rainbows. It sounds a little weird to be advocating for more character death but the distinct lack of it combined with some of the fake-outs in the series just didn’t mesh well with some of the things that did happen. It was a little too neat for the characters.
Being a YA fantasy series, there are kids 17-20 years old that end up in leadership positions among adults which is kind of a trope-y thing for the genre. That said, it was something that was addressed and even became a point of conflict in the story. Several of the adults that were not familiar with Kady G. and Gang were very not happy with being bossed around by a bunch of kids and this was something that had to be resolved, albeit a little messily.
I especially appreciated that the age of the characters was something that was not just supposed to be accepted by the reader. It was questioned by the characters and therefore as a reader I was able to better accept their position as well.
I have said before that I absolutely love this epistolary mode of storytelling. I loved the chat logs, the journal entries, the hand-drawn comics, the transcriptions. The sparse-ness of some of the details and focus on the characters seems to really draw me in and immerse me even more in the story that’s being told.
Though I do wish the end had been more emotional to match the rest of the story, I absolutely loved the series and I think that this is probably my favorite of the series.
This was another great ending to another great sci-fi series. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this series. The way the story was told, the characters, and just AIDEN! He is a character i should dislike for the choices he makes. But even when he did some terrible thigns, I still felt for him and was routing for him.
This form of storytelling does not need to be used all the time. Bit this time it was done so well that in hope to see more from these authors. Like we said above, the ending was a little to beat but overall I loved this book, and this series.
“Remember, the enemy’s gate is down.”
Author: Orson Scott Card
Category: Science Fiction, Classics
Pages: 226 (Hardback)
Publication Date: 1985
Check out this week’s podcast discussion where we talk about Ender’s Game!
Ender’s Game is the story of Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin, a six-year-old who is selected for the inter-planetary Battle School where children are trained to become commanders for the International Fleet. Colonel Graff suspects he is a strategic genius and so he subjects him to an increasingly grueling training program in which he has to lead other kids into mock battles.
It soon becomes apparent why: he believes that Ender may be the only person capable of beating the buggers, a technologically advanced alien race that has invaded Earth twice before. So he pushs Ender to the very limit of his endurance in many ways. Not only does Colonel Graff pretty much totally upend the curriculum of the Battle School at times just to be able to push Ender further, but from the outset he also subtly sets Ender apart from his fellow Battle School students in such a way that he is guaranteed to have not friends and so that he learns to live in isolation, never expecting to be helped by anyone.
While overall characterization is weak at times, there can be no doubt that Ender is a great protagonist. It’s interesting to watch him outwit his enemies, win the respect and support of those who matter, and prove himself for the big task ahead of him.
Ender’s Game is more than an exciting tale about a child prodigy overcoming his struggles. There is the moral question regarding the ethics of war, how far should those in command go to guarantee victory (and in this case, the survival of the human race) and with using children in a war. Ender is 6 years old when the book begins and he is put through some pretty harsh situations.
There is a note we should make here. Orson Scott Card is known for being misogynistic and homophobic. We do not condone this authors opinion and merely enjoy this book for the book itself. That being said there are parts in this book where his opinion shows through. There are very few female characters and the ones that are, can be very two dimensional. The reason given for so few girls making it into Battle School is that “they have too many years of evolution working against them.”
Yeah, okay when you were talking about 50 pound swords plus shields and such, maybe you had a point. But in a futuristic battle where it nearly every outcome will be decided by intelligence, that is a waaaaay misogynistic stance to take.
Ender’s Game is a staple in the sci-fi community. There are positives and there are negatives, but there is no doubting that this book and series will be around for a very long time.
I did not know of the hate for this author the first time I read this book years ago. It is disgusting how he treats other people and it hurts how a story I really enjoy is tainted by his opinion.
That aside I really enjoy this book. I love the struggle of Ender trying to find the balance between violence and compassion as a leader. It is up there as, if not of all books, one of my favorite sci-fi books for me.
On the note of Card’s homophobia, I confess myself somewhat surprised.
Ender’s relationship with the first person he was even kind of friends with at Battle School, Alai, had some homosexual subtext I thought. The boys are 6 when they meet and 12 when the story wraps up so too young to definitively say that they are gay but there was a sort of intimacy between them that Ender doesn’t have with any other character.
It has been about 8 years since I originally read this book and I think I love it even more now.
Back when I first read it, I think the thing that I liked the most about it was watching a genius commander in action. I immensely enjoy intelligent characters being put in impossible situations and watching them think their way out of it.
Reading it for probably the third time total but the first time in several years, there was so much more that stood out to me. For some reason, the themes that I had never gotten before with sending children to war, the mental effects of one person being relied upon to save everyone and the cost to that person of achieving it, what it means to understand truly understand someone and how to understand the people that follow you enough to effectively lead them. This book just seemed a whole lot deeper this time around. I will need to go back and re-read the rest of the series sometime to see what else I missed!
“Even if God were here, it wouldn’t do any good. The entire human race has reached the point where no one is listening to their prayers.”
Author: Cixin Liu
Category: Science Fiction
Series: Remembrances of Earth’s Past #1
Begininning against a backdrop of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and spanning to modern day, The Three-Body Problem is a hard science fiction book that asks some difficult questions about humanity and its behavior over the past century.
The Three-Body Problem was originally written in Chinese and so has been translated into English. The translator, Ken Liu, makes a note at the end of the book regarding the difficulties in translating this book as there are different narrative expectations between the two cultures. Knowing this did make the parts of the book that were a little more difficult to get through more bearable.
This book was just so dry! There was a heavy focus on the science presented. Pages and pages of scientific exposition. While this is kind of expected in a science fiction book, it was so detailed that for someone that who might optimistically say that they have a very basic grasp of physics it got a point where I just couldn’t follow along at all and just hoped for a summary of what it all meant at the end of the scene.
While there was a lot of attention to detail on the science side of things, there was almost no characterization at all. Da Shi an Ye Wenjie were just about the only characters that I felt like had any sort of personality at all. The character with whom we spend the most time, Wang Miao, has about the same personality as wet cardboard.
Knowing that there are different expectations in narratives in Chinese culture though, it is hard to fault the book at all for the focus on the plot/science rather than the characters. If this is what is what the intended reader looks for in a science fiction story, then I have no doubt that it blew them away. In an odd way, while this made the book a little more difficult to get through, it was also fascinating to consider the differences between Chinese and Western tastes in literature.
In that same vein, the story having such a focus on the Chinese Cultural Revolution was also fascinating. I know next to nothing about Chinese history so while I knew that the Cultural Revolution was a thing, everything else presented in the story was entirely new.
One of the things that made the book hard to get through though was not knowing for most of the book exactly where this was all going. The synopsis says something about an alien invasion but all the information given in the story for quite a bit into it does not look like it at all. There is a bunch of facts and “clues” that make no sense at all until reveals about 2/3rd.
When those reveals do come in the story gets good. And that is all there is to say on that. :)
While the style of narrative and the focus on science rather than characters moving the plot forward made it a little hard to get through at times, The Three-Body Problem’s examination of humanity and its behavior in the past century and whether or not we should continue to have faith in it was incredibly thought-provoking.
The VR video game chapters were easily my favorite of this series. I had a bit of trouble with it at times just because it stretched my imagination a little thin at time (like the human computer…) but overall I really enjoyed the concepts that it presented.
I am not sure if I will continue this series or not. I am interested in seeing where it all goes but I was pretty worn down by the heavy exposition structure of the story. If nothing else, this book has inspired me to make reading more Chinese history more of a priority.
Getting to see sci-fi from another culture’s perspective was interesting. Whether it was the authors style or the style of Chinese narration, this book is very straight forward.
The focus on the details and the overall story is something I am not usually intresed in. Don’t get me wrong, there has to be a good plot, but I definitely lean more towards character driven stories. The plot was strong enough later in the book that instated interested throughout. Not to mention a character played in full suit VR! I have been dreaming of that since middle school.
If you are not scientifically inclined, there are parts that will bore you. It dives deep into the science and does not hold your hand. To some this will be fine, to others like me, you will be waiting for something interesting to happen.
The parts with the game and the ending are what keep from not liking this book. While I am interested in what comes next, it is not something I am on the edge of my seat for.
“We grow so accustomed to our speeders, our ships, our hyperdrives. To be in a world where only your feet can move you, centimeter by centimeter through infinity…let’s just say there’s a reason Phasma wanted off that rock.”
Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Category: Star Wars, Science Fiction
Don’t miss this week’s podcast discussion!
The Boba Fett of our generation, Captain Phasma is an unknown but powerful figure in the Star Wars universe. Phasma is about her past and how she came to join the First Order. Resistance spy Vi Moradi is captured and interrogated by as an imposing stormtrooper clad all in red, Captain Cardinal. Phasma is his political rival so he seeks information that he can use to take down his fellow storm-trooper, Phasma.
Vi herself has never met Captain Phasma and so has no first-hand knowledge of Phasma’s life. But she did hear her backstory from a woman named Siv on the planet Parnassos which so happens to also be Phasma’s home planet. And Vi’s ship logs show that she has recently been in the Parnassos system so Cardinal is convinced that she knows…something.
So our backstory is told by a spy to her enemy and that spy says she heard it from someone else.
First off, this thirdhand mode of storytelling felt flimsy all on its own. Second, as Vi is a spy for the Resistance and notices that her enemy does not seem to be very adept at this whole interrogation thing, she could be lying about what she is telling Cardinal. But it doesn’t matter because he isn’t fact checking her anyway. She tells him this long story and the whole time he is just sitting there giving her food and water. So yeah, this just doesn’t make sense, at least in part, because:
a) She could be lying
b) The person she heard it from could have been lying
c) Why after ten minuets of sitting there listing to her, did Cardinal not shock her so much (as he was already doing) that she skipped straight to the point?
Most of the story that Vi tells has zero bearing on the overall thing Cardinal wants. He wants something to get rid of Phasma. That something (as thin as it was) could have been summed up in one sentence. When we finally got that “big reveal” it fell pretty flat and rendered most of the book kind of extraneous.
Cardinal is also a programmed solider from the time he was very little. His character was interesting because we saw multiple sides of him. He is a leader in the First Order with his primary duty being the running of the training program for the new recruits. We frequently see his devotion to his cause but at the same time he is a good person and sometimes comes off a lot nicer than you would think a First Order Captain would. It is strange though because he is oddly nice to his captured Resistance spy.
At this point you probably think we don’t like this book. For the most part, that’s true. There was however some great world-building that was used. The world of Parnassus was a post-apocalyptic world where Phasma’s people are living on the edge of extinction. The idea of having to survive on this planet, with beetles that attack even the smallest drop of liquid, is both scary and interesting.
Phasma is suppose to be the focus here and while we do get to see her ruthlessness, we don’t learn anything new about her. She is smart and plays for the team that will help her the most. For now that is the First Order, but will it always be? Intriguing concepts but as what was suppose to be a look into her backstory, we got very little in who Phasma is.
I love Star Wars and was excited to read this but in the end it was disappointed. Phasma is still really cool and cold-hearted. At the end of the day I wish I got more from this character. The world was the bets part but at the end of the day there are enough plot holes around to make a sequel to the movie Holes. Unfortunately, not a fan.
My biggest disappointment here was Phasma.
Okay, so we got to see this really cool world of Parnassus and it was well-done and everything, yeah sure.
But I came into this wanting to know more about her. Phasma is such a mysterious character in the Star Wars movies because she is so obviously different from other stormtroopers but we get absolutely no information on her. I thought that this book was our chance to get to know her.
You know what I know about her after having read this book?
Spoiler alert: Phasma is a bad guy.
Why? I dunno…she just is. She is just one of those people that is born cruel and faithless and with no redeeming qualities. She makes all this noise in the book about “saving her people” but when push comes to shove, cares only about herself.
I really could have extracted all this myself from what we have seen in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. I did not need a 370 page book to tell me this.
What I am saying is that I came to this wanting to explore a character and instead got to read about walking across a wasteland. Which can be cool but devoid of interesting character development just doesn’t do anything for me.
I also found myself frustrated by the whole Siv thing. First off, the whole thirdhand narration was so flimsy that I was convinced that there would be a plot twist about it at some point.
Unfortunately, what you see is what you get.
And then Vi interrupting the story every often to go “Siv doesn’t know what that is but I do so that’s why I am saying it” (i.e. chrome, explosions, vehicles, etc.). It was kind of annoying. I knew that Vi was telling someone else’s story, I didn’t need the interruption.
The one thing that I did like in this book was Vi and Cardinal’s back and forth at times. At the beginning of their interactions, it is apparent that they are both attempting to manipulate one another and I was really interested in seeing how that panned out.
Sadly though, that was the one truly bright spot for me in this book. As books in the Star Wars EU seem to be more miss than hit for me, I think I will be taking a break from Star Wars novels for a little while.
“And besides, who doesn’t want to come to Artemis? It’s the greatest little city in the worlds.”
Author: Andy Weir
Category: Science Fiction
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Jazz Bashara is a 20-something that has lived on the moon in the only lunar settlement of Artemis since she was 6 years old. Being equal parts intelligent and rebellious, she finds her calling in smuggling goods into the small city. When she is hired not to smuggle but for some secretive sabotage, she finds herself in the middle of a plot bigger than she imagined in a play for political and economic power in Artemis.
It is hard to not compare this book to The Martian, Andy Weir’s amazing debut novel. The same hard science fiction aspects came into play in this book that made The Martian so good. However, Artemis has a little bit more of a complex plot. Mark Watney’s mission was simply “get off Mars.” Jazz’s problems have a lot more going on as the plot is a little bit more intricate.
Weir delivers just as well with the “science-y” aspect of this book as he did with The Martian. Where the first revolved largely on space travel and how to survive on a planet where nothing survives, Artemis focused more on welding and the chemistry of air. Also, a little bit of blowing stuff up. As none of these are areas that we know much about at all, it was interesting to learn a little bit in such an entertaining way. There is also some speculation for technological development in low gravity as opposed to earth gravity that was pretty fascination.
The biggest, and arguably the only, weakness for this book though is Jazz herself.
Honestly, she kind of reads like a male author writing a female character for a male audience. She is in some ways the cliche rough and tough smuggler/rebel chick that is just “one of the guys.” She throws back beer and liquor with her buddies and makes brazen sexual commentary. There’s nothing wrong with this as such but it lead to Jazz’s character not feeling very fleshed out. This is a very intelligent woman with a strong moral code but we are treated to commentary on how sexually promiscuous she is. Many of the things she said or ways that she acted or inner commentary she had just felt out of place.
With the first hundred pages being mostly story and character setup, this was more of an issue during that first part. Once the story and heist got going and the book became a little more plot-driven than about the characters though, it was easy to fall into the story and the science. The action got started and it really didn’t stop until the end.
During the first part of this book, I really worried that I was not going to enjoy it which would have been a huge disappointment because I was so looking forward to this. Thankfully though, I was able to get into the story and look past what I did not like about Jazz and enjoyed it a lot.
One of my favorite parts of this book was the “mayor” of Artemis, Fidelis Ngugi. She was a pretty minor character but I loved how she pretty much took Kenya from being a third world country to a political power with her incredible understanding of economics and people in general. I might read a book that was just about her and how she made Artemis possible.
I don’t think that Artemis better than The Martian but if you enjoyed the first, I think you will absolutely enjoy this one.
It is hard not to compare this book to The Martian. Mark Whatney and Jazz both have similar sarcastic tendencies and are both caught in a big situation and have to science their way out. The difference being, Jazz put herself where she was. While she does have redeeming qualities, Jazz is a difficult character to root for. She has people she cares about, and she never goes back on her word. But it seems she is always trying to play the system, and it can conflict with her upstanding values that she seems to develop.
“You have senses human don’t…You can perceive and understand things that are invisible and mysterious to us, and you can manipulate the laws of physics in ways that we can only imagine. Humans are technically your creators , but all humans alive now worship at the altar of machines, praying to them, pleading with them, needing them all the time for survival.”
This was one of the very few purchases of mine that I just picked up at the bookstore without having heard anything about it. I had never seen any reviews on it, no blogs talking about it. It interested me just by the back cover blurb and because of my lack of previous info on it, I went into it with zero expectations either way. And I am really happy about that and I think that I read it at the perfect time.
After just finishing the behemoth that is Oathbringer and gone through all of the heavy emotions that it thrust upon me, I needed something light, quick, and entertaining. A palate cleanser. Lightless worked pretty much perfectly for that.
Althea is one of three crew members aboard the Ananke, a military science vessel on a top secret mission. Two criminals, Leontios Ivanov and Matthew Gale, sneak aboard the ship and are quickly captured but Gale manages to sneak a virus into the ship’s computer. Althea attempts to repair the damage done to her ship as a government operative interrogates Ivanov as a potential link to a terrorist organization.
I found the story to be really entertaining. I think that if I had been looking for something more space opera-y (that’s a word now), I would have been disappointed. That’s just not what this is.
It is a rather narrow scope on a wider story. The terrorist organization mentioned is making moves all over the solar system as the story goes on but this book is about the characters on board. It is a little odd to know that all these big things are going on in the background but not really being a part of them and I think that could easily turn some readers off but I found it made for a fast paced and entertaining read.
The characterizations were, at best, okay. Althea was probably the best of the characters but I admit to being a little bit mesmerized by Ivanov’s story.
The one thing that really did bother me was the lack of information on the ship’s mission and the science part of the science fiction was pretty “hand-wavy”.
There are definitions at the beginning of each “part” of the book for the different laws of thermodynamics and entropy but they only tied into the story really briefly. I was expecting a great big reveal for how the Ananke’s mission specifically tied into everything but it really didn’t. I believe the second book focuses more on the terrorists so I am kind of wondering if the Ananke will ever play a bigger role in the story. If not, I would be very disappointed.
The only other science that is brought up is the black hole drive in the bottom of the ship. Maybe I missed something but it sure sounded like the ship had harnessed the power of a black hole and had it sitting inside the ship. Now, I’m not an astrophysicist by any means (I mean, I did read Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by NdT so I basically know everything there is to know on the topic, right?) but I don’t think a black hole could fit inside a spaceship. At least not without that spaceship being so damn big it isn’t really a spaceship anymore.
So this novel wasn’t great. It had some pretty glaring flaws and the characterizations were just okay. But it was exactly what I needed right now and it was entertaining enough that I will go on and read Supernova.
Being a sentient spaceship really should be more fun.
Author: Dennis E. Taylor
Category: Science Fiction
Publication Date: August 8th, 2017
The Others are coming. The Bobs must do what they can to stop this alien race from devouring their friends and destroying everything they have helped to build in the universe. What started as a epic adventure exploring space for humanity is now a battle for survival.
The first Bobiverse book was exciting and took a new look into the sci-fi genre. Bob and his clones were funny and looked at problems in very interesting ways. Unfortunately, as the last book in this series, this one fails to deliver fully on what it started out on. The individual stories for each of the Bob’s are great in their own way. The problem is that it feels more like a collection of short stories versus having a overall, intertwining plot. There is an overall plot, but most of the book is centered around these isolated situations.
It just feels like by the time this book came around, the story had built up too much for the size of the books. For all of the various plotlines to really get their fair share of storytime and end the series this book would have had to be a behemoth rather than the 260 page event that it is.
Honestly, each and every one of these stories could probably fill a book all on its own. They are all interesting stories with their various dynamics and things going on. But there are about 6 of these different stories going on and they all feel rushed to varying degrees due to the time and length constraints.
Wish I had more to say on this but all I can say is that this series was enjoyable. While I admit there was an overall plot, it felt like it took a back seat to the individual stories. If that what you are looking for then this will work for you. I personally would have enjoyed a better overall plot and less of the split up that was there. Overall, I did have fun with this cool sci-fi twist.
I just got really bored with this book. I really enjoyed the first two and was looking forward to this finale but unfortunately I just could not get into it. I really enjoyed the concept of these books and their approach to space exploration and the replicants so my rating for the series overall is much higher but this book alone…
Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Don’t forget to check out this week’s podcast discussion!
This second book in The Illuminae Files switches perspective away from Kady Grant and Ezra Mason who were the focus of the first book on board the space vessels Hypatia and Alexander to instead focus on what happens on the space station Heimdall as the Hypatia and the remaining Kerenza survivors make their way to what they hope is safety.
Unfortunately, just days before they are set to arrive the Heimdall station is taken over by a BeiTech “audit team” to stop the Hypatia from ever making it there. The station Commander’s daughter, Hanna Donnelly, and tat’d up teenage criminal Nik Malikov are two of only people left in a position to challenge the BeiTech team and prevent them from accomplishing their mission.
Long story short, this was a great follow up to Illuminae. The story was just as complex, the writing just as great quality, and the characters were just as great.
While the story in Gemina is different than that in Illuminae, it kind of follows the same track. The first book featured what were essentially space zombies and it almost seemed like Gemina had to follow up with that in addition to everything going on with BeiTech. It seemed sometimes that this plotline was there just to make the books match thematically. It felt a little bit forced at times and out of place with everything else.
It did impact the main story however and Kristoff and Kaufman are talented authors that wove everything together wonderfully so it isn’t too big of a negative on the overall book.
As mentioned, this book does introduce a brand new cast of characters with those from Illuminae only joining the narrative toward the end. These characters all, again, fantastic.
As Hanna and Nik are the main characters in this book, it really shouldn’t be surprising that they end up as a romantic item. The story of a pampered rich girl and the bad boy being a thing is admittedly rather cliché. But their story and how they come together and come to rely on each other in such a short amount of time makes their relationship completely believable and enjoyable to read.
And how can someone mention this book without talking about Ella?!
Ella is Nik’s 15 year old cousin is a hacking MASTER. An illness from a few years prior to the story left her in a wheelchair and breathing only with the help of an oxygen mask at all times but she is so witty and snarky and smart that she is easily the most lovable character in the series so far.
This was a well done sequel. The first one was a original story that was exciting and new. This one takes the rules and world from the first, and creates a whole new story. These new characters are well written and I care about them just as I do about the ones from the first book.
Only negatives I can speak to is the constant death fake outs and some small character development. I spoke more on it in our podcast so please go check that out.
I am fully excited for the next novel. These authors have changed my view on books with two authors. At least these authors are doing a exceptional job of it.
The only other thing I will mention, and I am trying hard to stay as far away from spoilers as I can, but like the first book this one does have one or two death fake outs.
One of these does make sense for the story. But I just generally don’t like death fake outs. When pulled off correctly, it can be a very emotional moment to have a character come back to life that you thought was dead. However I am of the opinion that killing off a character is a move that lowers the stakes. After only a few fake outs, the reader generally can guess that a beloved character isn’t really dead.
Even with this though, I can’t say enough good things about the series thus far. I liked Illuminae slightly better than Gemina but really that is only because I felt like the complexity of the story was just slightly better done in the first one but this is still a fantastic read.