RogerBW's Blog

Gemina, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 11 February 2021

2016 YA science fiction, middle volume of a trilogy. As the survivors of the Kerenza colony fled towards safety, they sent distress calls to the jump station that was their destination. They got no replies. This book explains why.

Which comes down, more or less, to Die Hard on a Space Station. Please don't misunderstand me: that's one of my favourite stories, particularly the version where knowing the station better is a big part of how the good guys win, and this is a good version of it. But if I'd gone in expecting something more distinctive, something like the plot of Barbary Station, I'd have been disappointed. As I should have been had I been expecting a strict sequel to Illuminae; although Ezra and Kady do show up a little towards the end, our viewpoints are mostly with Hanna Donnelly, spoiled daughter of the station commander, and Niklas Malikov, junior member of the Big Crime Family.

The found-document format continues, and works very well, particularly in some short sequences outside the station; it was quite hard work for my ebook reader, though, and I suspect this form of storytelling may work best in paper.

If anything, things are a bit too pat. A romantic rivalry is resolved when one of the rivals turns out to be on Team Evil. The genius teenage computer hacker also has wasted legs. Someone with a Dark Secret turns out to be Not So Bad After All. Everything falls together just as it needs to. But it works, in the end, because of the people. OK, maybe they wouldn't really be that snarky, but they're fun to read even as they're trying to work out what to do against hopeless odds.

It's been a while since I read the first volume but I certainly didn't feel lost (and the use of a whole bunch of standard SF tropes helps one get one's bearings). Probably the first one was better, but I still enjoyed this.

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See also:
Barbary Station, R. E. Stearns

Previous in series: Illuminae | Series: The Illuminae Files | Next in series: Obsidio

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