At first glance, Gemina feels familiar. Instead of on the science vessel Hypatia we’re on the Jump Station Heimdall: a wormhole that ports between several points in the universe. Here, as in Illuminae, claustrophobia and enemy agents threaten the survival of our two new protagonists: Nik and Hannah (honestly, it’s amazing how many heterosexual couples exist in the far future) as they battle their way against Bei Tech insurgents trying to cover up the genocide within the Kerenza system. So far so derivative. But Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff quickly manage to differentiate their characters as well as their story, and we’re head first into another against-all-odds survival story set against the cold, unfeeling stars of galaxies far, far away.
As you’d expect from a survival story, the real motivation of the story is to remain alive. Thrillingly, Kaufman and Kristoff remain bloodthirsty authors, with barely a life spared, it seems. It’s necessary and provides a compelling danger for our protagonists – it never feels like anyone is safe from the chopping board, even Nik or Hannah who carry the novel.
As with Illuminae, Gemina is told in a found-footage style dossier. It works, now that we’re used to the manner in which it operates. Yet many novels can be improved with a little unorthodox story telling. No, the real victory here is the breathless and frankly unimaginably exciting story at the core of Gemina – a cinematic odyssey with enough sudden twists that you’ll need blood pressure tablets. It’s thrilling, pacy and addictive, and Kristoff and Kaufman are ingenious. If ever there’s a series to kickstart a trend for YA sci-fi, it’s the Illuminae files.