Parents' Guide to

Gemina: The Illuminae Files, Book 2

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Intensely thrilling sequel introduces roguish new heroes.

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Equally as intense as Illuminae, this space sequel raises the stakes of the game between a big bad corporation and the indomitable determination of teens who refuse to stop fighting. While Illuminae is about figuring out who's behind the assault on Kerenza (and the deadly bio-weapon unleashed on the fleet), Gemina is a race against the clock. Readers already know who's to blame (BeiTech Industries) and why the black-ops agents are so cold-blooded (they're paid security warriors sent to clean up their boss' mess -- meaning make sure there are no witnesses). Hanna and Nik are very different lead characters compared with rule-following Ezra and truth-following Kady. Perceived as a princess and a criminal, Hanna and Nik defy the assumptions about them to work together and take on the BeiTech assassins, not to mention a group of murderous alien parasites accidentally set loose on the station. These two aren't together when the book starts, but they team up quite perfectly, each using their years of strategy games and martial arts (Hanna) and juvenile-detention-honed street smarts (Nik) to their collective advantage.

Hanna and Nik don't have the "first love" history that made Kady and Ezra's romance so compelling. But they do have a will-they-or-won't-they charged banter (and of course that age-old setup of the privileged girl and edgy guy) that keeps their interactions fun to read. There's a pretty big complication in the form of Hanna's junior officer boyfriend Jackson, but love-triangle haters should be pacified by how the authors resolve that obstacle. Adding to the hilarious conversations between Hanna and Nik is Ella, a tiny but fierce hacker reminiscent of Kady. Because cousins Ella and Nik belonged to the House of Knives crime family, neither of them is officially on the Heimdall census, making her hacking abilities even more difficult to track. And for those who miss Kady and Ez, never fear, for they make a prominent appearance in the last third of the story. Although one can easily read Gemina via e- or audiobook, there's a particular thrill to reading this pulse-pounding series, with all its found documents, illustrations, graphs, and schematics in print. Bring on Book 3!

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