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Illuminae Files #2
Description⎮Reviewed Nov. 2016
4.5★ Audiobook⎮ The primary reason this wasn’t a five-star audiobook for me is probably because it wasn’t able to match up with its predecessor, Illuminae. Make no mistake, Gemina was absolutely incredible, but it was still a sequel and the problem with sequels is that they almost never live up to the memory of the original.
Illuminae was easily my favorite audiobook of 2015 and definitely the one I’ve recommended the most since initially hearing it. Gemina, on the other hand, is more likely something I’ll remember in relation to Illuminae, like a little sister. Illuminae set the bar so unbelievably high that it’s almost unfair to Gemina to even have to be in the same series. This is clearly a Marcia Brady/Jan Brady situation in the way of books, but what can you do?
The characters were distinct, but not overly memorable, with one exception: Ella Malikova. She may have been a secondary character, but she absolutely stole my heart. Honestly, I would have preferred her in a primary role over Hanna, who too closely resembled Lilac LaRoux from Amie Kaufman’s These Broken Stars. Both of the protagonists felt recycled from Kaufman’s earlier series, but Ella’s originality makes her stand out in my mind more than either of them. And just as I was beginning to warm to Hanna and Nik, Illuminae’s protagonistnic duo Kady Grant and Ezra Mason (aka my beloved babies) strolled in and stole the show with very minor appearances. It was wonderful to see them again and I always enjoy crossovers between installments featuring different characters (another signature of Amie Kaufman’s work).
As for the storyline, Gemina was on a great track until it came to the point in the story involving the Gemina particle plotline. That’s where it derailed some for me. That part of the story was introduced so late in the book that it felt rushed, thrown together, and… half-assed. It’s definitely an amazing concept, but I really wish it had been explored earlier on in the story and given more development since it was obviously integral enough to give the book its name. As it was, I was left a little underwhelmed and frankly, confused.
At this point, you’re probably wondering why I rated this audiobook at 4.5 stars and the answer is simple: This was a great book. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are among my favorite authors for a reason. Their individual writing is super and together they are spectacular. This series is without a doubt one of the most creative works I’ve ever experienced, particularly on audiobook. Big sister aside, Gemina could definitely hold its own and I take some responsibility for allowing my unbelievable experience with Illuminae to influence my perception of Gemina.
Narration review: Are there actually people out there who chose to pick up Gemina in traditional book format? Even after seeing the rave reviews (including mine) about the Illuminae audiobook? Hands-down, this series is the best audio production I’ve ever experienced. We all know how crazy I go over the slightest hint of a sound effect. Well, Gemina nearly blew my mind. It had sound effects coming out the wazoo (what is a “wazoo”, anyway?). This audiobook is a multidimensional experience that puts you in the middle of the action. It’s like 3-D glasses for your ears. Work with me here.
And the cast. Did I mention there’s a full narration cast? I can’t imagine how much this audiobook cost to produce, but it was so worth it. For these 12.5 hours, my ears were pampered like they were at a high-end luxury resort. This audiobook spared no expense. It had all the bells and whistles. I’m telling you, my audiobook-loving heart almost couldn’t take it. ::faints dramatically::
And I’m not even going to detract anything from the rating for having the “lollipop song” stuck in my head for a solid three days straight. Aren’t I merciful?