Book Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. 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.

So, I’m not going to lie to you: I liked Gemina soooooo much more than I liked Illuminae.  Not that Illuminae was bad, but I think that I really identified more with the Captain’s daughter with a naughty streak and her attraction to the bad boy with a golden heart. Hanna is sarcastic, a bit rebellious, maybe a little callus, but it masks her soft spots for her father and for her boyfriend.  Plus, what is more bad ass than a girl who has utilized her stranding on a remote waystation in space to get extremely strong and fast in a dojo?

Really, I mostly am just a giant Hanna fan, because she seems to continually prove to herself that she can do whatever she needs to survive in this situation.  Plus, when she doesn’t understand something scientifically, she just accepts that something needs to be done and gets it DONE. Nik, on the other hand, I was prepared to dislike a bit, if only because he was set up to seem like a guy who tried to hard. So it took a while for me to really grow to like him as a character.  Basically it was the scene with the cow that sold him to me.  I won’t spoil that for you, but you definitely should check that out.

Is it a stereotypical love connection? Probably.  BUT, the circumstances of everything that happens within this world is what makes it so much more fun to read.

Exactly like Illuminae, the story of Hanna and Nik is told through the style of dossiers, a case file that has redacted statements, etc.  However, I think that part of the reason I did enjoy this one more was the inclusion of hand drawn illustrations, which were provided by Marie Lu, and the ever growing bloodstain on the pages.

I think that one reason I’m really drawn to this series, and one that I’ll use as a suggestion for those looking for a Holiday gift for a Doctor Who fan, is that I really connected with these books on a Whovian level.

While neither are exact replicas of storylines on Who, both remind me of very specific episodes (See my Illuminae review for the episode comparison for that book).  Gemina is almost the story of Pete’s World or Doomsday from Season 2 of the new series with Rose and the Tenth Doctor.  *SPOILER ALERT* There are duplicate outcomes with different circumstances and in two different realities.  Death plays a role in both those episodes and the novel, and I really admire the scientific research that Kaufman and Kristoff did for the book to make it…easier to understand than it would have been normally.

I’m giving this one 4.5 Bards and recommend it as a Christmas gift!

Book Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

This book.

I don’t even know where to start.

I guess I’ll start with the formatting.

I’ve never read a book that is formatted the way this one is.  In all honesty, when I received the Advanced Reading Copy last year, I was so excited to read it until I opened it.  I saw that it was done in a series of redacted documents, instant message conversations, made up memos, etc, and I just put it aside and didn’t pick it up again until a few weeks before the release of the second installment.

Boy, do I regret the decision to put off reading this for so long.

Not only did the formatting only make the novel more exquisite as what I predict will become a novel to be taught in college young adult/adolescent literature courses, but also as an example in creative writing and how the standard novel format doesn’t necessarily have to be followed in order to tell an in depth story within it’s own story world. In fact, I’ve convinced a Graduate School friend of mine to possibly teach this novel to her class this upcoming Spring, and I really hope it inspires a whole generation of writers that want to do something outside of the box.

So, the love story seemed a bit extra to me in this story.  Honestly, they could have just made Kady, this super strong protagonist with all of these talents with the computer and her intelligence and I would have been a happy girl.  Ezra just kind of felt like a plot device to make the story more sellable to young adult readers.  Which isn’t a problem, I just think he was an extraneous part of the story.

AIDEN, on the other hand, was a more fruitful character than Ezra at every turn. Never have I ever thought that I could enjoy a computer generated and moderated program as much as AIDEN.  Sure, it has it’s faults and it isn’t exactly an ideal companion in a lot of ways, but it genuinely develops a rapport with Kady and *SPOILER ALERT* saves her life!

Now, I think that any reader that enjoyed Illuminae and is thinking about gifting it to someone who hasn’t read it yet should consider all of their Whovian friends.  Illuminae reminds me of one of my absolute favorite David Tennant episodes, The Waters of Mars.  Now, in most obvious ways it involves a disease that spreads easily and quickly throughout the crew and poses a great threat to those who haven’t been involved yet.  However, I think the part that reminds me the most of it is at the end, when the Doctor (AIDEN, people!!!) thinks that he is doing the right thing by saving those who may not have meant to be saved.

Either way, this book is one that should be gifted and discussed, for sure.

4 Bards

 

Book Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

*kicks self*

Why yes, I am kicking my own ass for not reading this sooner.  Sure, I chastised myself fairly well in my review of These Broken Stars (which you can check out by clicking on the title), but I just have to keep reminding myself that I made a huge mistake by putting these off (Gob Bluth agrees).

This Shattered World picks up roughly a year after These Broken Stars, to be more accurate I think it is around 8-9 months after based on a comment in the novel, and we are introduced to two new characters immediately.  Now, I knew going into this that Lilac and Tarver were not going to be involved in this narrative, which was a bit disappointing, but it didn’t really deter me much considering I legitimately put down These Broken Stars and immediately walked to my bookshelf to pull This Shattered World.

Spooner and Kaufman waste no time putting the reader into the hostile environment on Avon and both of the narrators are introduced in the first chapter.  I found it to be interesting that the first novel started with the male perspective, Tarver, and this installment started will Jubilee’s point of view.  Jubilee and Flynn share a large amount of the point of view switches, where in the first novel it seemed that Tarver’s narrative voice really dominated the story.  I found that I was really wishing for more from Lilac after finishing This Shattered World, because I realized how strong the female perspective was and how much I wanted from her in retrospect.

Jubilee isn’t necessarily the most likable character at first considering she prides herself on being emotionless, dreamless, and unable to be corrupted by Avon.  However, she is headstrong and determined and is supremely skilled, which makes her respectable before she is likable.  Flynn, on the other hand, was immediately relatable.  I saw Spooner at a book event once and she revealed that she and Kaufman would do the female and male point of views, respectively.  I love how different their narration was but how they came together as characters.

I like that the POV shifts still included the one page inserts from an outside source.  The first novel had interview questions between an unknown and Tarver, and this novel had the details of dreams.  I think that the stories tied together extremely well and I was very glad to see a few familiar faces toward the end of This Shattered World. 

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

I swear that I need to have someone else come behind me and help me choose which books to read as soon as I get them and which ones to put aside until later.  I mistakenly left this novel (and it’s sequel) sitting on my shelf too long.

These Broken Stars is a lot of things rolled into one: it is science fiction, it is romance, it is kind-of dystopian, and it is just a bit magical.  I’ve read some reviews of this novel that says that it was originally hyped as a big science fiction novel by the publisher.  I’m here to tell you that I don’t remember it being hyped as that.  I remember that it was a romance set in space.  Sure, the romance is a HUGE aspect of the novel (and I loved it) but I don’t understand why some reviewers were taken aback by that.  Anyway, I really like that there isn’t a time period stated in the novel or really anything that dates the story.  This means that the narrative will be able to stand on it’s own without being dragged down by cultural references or anything like that.  I absolutely adore novels that can not be dated.  It is obviously futuristic but we don’t know if it is 5 years in the future or a 100,000 years in the future.

The story starts quickly and the action never stops.  I love Kaufman and Spooner’s use of the Journey trope in this novel because it applies not only to the physical journey that Lilac and Tarver take, but also their emotional journeys as individuals and their journey in relation to one another.  I also really enjoyed the rotating narration in These Broken Stars.  I saw Meagan Spooner at a book event not long ago and she mentioned that Kaufman will typically write the male narration and that she will write the female narration.  It works so well!  Lilac and Tarver have such individual voices, but they slowly begin to come together toward the end of the novel, just as they do emotionally.

Lilac became such a strong character over the course of the novel.  She was strong in her own right at the beginning, but she really became so much more relatable and realistic as she struggled to survive without complaint in the strange terrain of the unknown planet.  It is obvious from the beginning that there will be a romantic relationship developing between Tarver and Lilac, but I think that Kaufman and Spooner provided excellent backstories that caused many obstacles to their romance–on top of them being unlikely partners in survival.  Where Lilac became much stronger as a result of her friendship with Tarver, I really liked how she softened him.  He was so closed off through a good part of the novel, but I think that his focus on keeping Lilac alive really showed his true colors.  Two amazing characters.

I loved the concept of the whispers, and I won’t give away anything else about them. Their existence was very thought provoking.  I’ve said too much!S

I really enjoyed this novel and could not put it down. I’ve already started the second installment and I am so glad I finally picked these up.

If you haven’t read these books I highly recommend it.

BUY THIS BOOK

Amazon| Flyleaf Books| Barnes & Noble

4.5 Bards

four.fivebards

Top Ten Tuesday: March 31

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books You Recently Added to your To-Be-Read List

 

1. The Winner’s Curse & The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski
I woefully admit that I am just now adding these novels to my TBR list.  Why now? Well, to be honest I never really looked into the synopsis and now I am regretting not trying to get my hands on these books earlier!

2. The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick
I never read the first book, My Life Next Door, but I suppose I’ll add that to my TBR now too!  This is a companion novel, so I don’t think I’d necessarily have to read the first one, but after reading both of the synopses I really think I’ve been missing out.

3. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
This is an obvious add to my list because I absolutely adored Fangirl and I can’t wait to read more of the fanfiction that was interspersed throughout that novel.

4. The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
THAT COVER. I know, I totally added it originally because the cover is absolutely gorgeous but the narrative sounds pretty amazing too. This is definitely going to be one of the books I pick up first.

5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman
New science fiction!

6. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
Super excited about this adaptation, and it has actually been on my radar for a while but for some reason I never actually put it on my TBR shelf on Goodreads!  I think this book is going to be even better because it will help with the increase in diversity among YA titles.

7. Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan
Adored Ryan’s zombie series, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, so of course I want to get my hands on this new series!

8. Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett
There is a commune/cult involved in this story. That’s all you need to know.

9. The Devil You Know by Trish Doller
Roadtrip triller? Count me in.

10. Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby
I’m definitely trying to read more Contemporary fiction, especially since there has been a big shift towards realistic fiction in the past year.  I really like the idea of this novel, it sounds a bit complex, especially with the aspect of a donor heart being involved.

What other books should I add to my TBR list?!

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: December 23, 2014

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

 

Waiting on Wednesday

waiting on wednesday

 

Every week Breaking the Spine hosts the bookish meme for book bloggers to share what books they are waiting on to be released!  This week I’m waiting on:

Release Date: November 11, 2014

Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

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