Gemina

While I continued to wait for Obsidio I decided to reread the second novel in the series as well. I’ve read Gemina once before, about a year ago, and it was just as intense and crazy as I remember. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff certainly knows how to write compelling sci-fi novels! Unlike many sequels, Gemina is just as strong, if not stronger, than Illuminae and certainly builds up expectations for the final novel.

In Illuminae, Kady and the rest of Hypatia tried, unsuccessfully, to hail Jumpstation Heimdall to come to their rescue as they were chased by a BeiTech dreadnought. As it turns out, Heimdall have some problems of their own, namely 24 SpecOps sent from BeiTech to take control of the station and, possibly, kill everyone on board. They also have an unstable wormhole that needs to be worked on urgently and a techvirus in their computers that constantly plays Lexi Blue’s new song. Oh, and also two dozen alien-snakes that will eat your brain if they find you.

The female main character is Hanna Donnelly, the spoiled daughter of Heimdalls commander. The male main character is Nik Malikov, a reluctant member in a notorious crime family. The only reason they know each other is because Nik is Hanna’s drugdealer. But when the SpecsOps from BeiTech shows up at Heimdall, Hanna and Nik are the only ones in a position to save the station and the incoming Hypatia. The SpecOps are well-trained murderers, ready to kill anyone who breaths the wrong way. They are something of a challenge for two 18-year-olds and the alien-snakes makes the task even harder. This is before they find out about how unstable the wormhole is and about Assault Fleet Kennedy, ready to jump through the wormhole to the Kerenza side to destroy the Hypatia.

Just like Illuminae, Gemina is written as a dossier, filled with chat logs, emails, a few excerpts from Hanna’s diary, conversations using headsets and, more often than not, written security footage. I missed some of the amazing layouts from Illuminae, but it’s understandable why there was more written security footage. There are some lovely drawings by YA author Marie Lu in Hanna’s diary though, and they are amazing. The entire novel is very well-crafted and certainly redefines what a novel is and can be.

Gemina is fast-paced and fill to the brim (and I mean, the brim!) with action, just like Illuminae. The bigger portion of the novel spans out for about a day and a half and so much happens it feels impossible to remember it all. There’s a plot twist around every corner and when you finally feel like you’ve gotten a grip on the story, Kaufman and Kristoff decides to turn everything up-side-down again.

The characters are strong and believable, all with their own agenda. Even the bad guys, the SpecOps, says things at times that makes you realizes that they are humans too, they have lives and loves and dreams, even if they try to kill everyone in their way. To make every character feel real is very impressive and I think a really good book is a novel that helps you understand even the evil people. It’s not because you’re supposed to accept the evil things they do, but to understand how they think and why they do it. A particular character, Kali, seems to be the worst person in the world but most of what she does during the novel is seeking revenge for someone she loves, just like Hanna and Nik does. I don’t like the things she did, but I can understand her reasons for doing it. That’s what a really good book does.

Overall, this is a great read that will suck you in from the beginning and spit you out, amazed and maybe a little heartbroken, by the end. It’s a good sequel to the amazing first novel. I’m both looking forward and dreading Obsidio, because I don’t want the series to end. Despite that, I look forward to see what’s going to happen and I’m sure Kaufman and Kristoff have more than one ace up their sleeve. I know I’ve said this before but seriously, you haven’t read these books yet? What are you waiting for?

Mot fyren

Första gången jag läste Virginia Woolfs Mot fyren var för lite mer än ett år sedan. Det är en modern klassiker och mycket populär roman att läsa inom litteraturvetenskapliga kurser. Jag läste den i skolan förra året och fick läsa om den igen i en annan kurs detta året. Vid första läsningen var jag inte alls imponerad, men jag får erkänna att den faktiskt blev bättre när jag läste om den en andra gång och började titta närmare på karaktärerna och berättelsens händelseförlopp.

Mot fyren handlar, kanske inte oväntat, om en resa till en fyr. Romanen utspelar sig under åren runt första världskriget på den skottska ön Skye och är uppdelad i tre delar. I den första delen ska familjen Ramsay åka ut till fyren, men resan blir ständigt uppskjuten. Lily Briscoe, en vän till familjen, försöker måla en tavla av Ramsays trädgård. Minta Doyle förlovar sig och Augustus Carmichael läser poesi i en solstol. Den handla delen handlar om de tio år som passerar då familjen inte är på ön och vad som händer med en del av karaktärerna under denna peridon. I den tredje delen är familjen och några vänner återigen tillbaka på ön och resan till fyren blir slutligen av.

Det händer inte särskilt mycket i romanen, till stor del på grund av att den fokuserar på inre monologer snarare än händelseförlopp. Det gjorde mig uttråkad när jag läste romanen första gången, jag är inte alls van vid att läsa sådan här litteratur. Men nu när jag läste om den fokuserade jag på Lilys måleri, som är en aktiv del av berättelsen och det gjorde det lättare att förstå karaktärerna och vad som rörde sig i deras huvud. För mig blev romanen helt annorlunda nu och jag kunde se ett helt annat djup i berättelsen. Jag kan förstå varför detta är en klassisk bok och jag tycker absolut att den är värd att läsas om man har intresse för litteratur. Tipset är i så fall (om ni som jag har lite svårt för 200 sidor långa inre monologer) att fokusera på karaktärernas personlighet. För mig funkade det fint att utgå från måleriet och därifrån närmare studera karaktärerna. Det diskuteras mycket, mellan flera personer, medan Lily målar och att se sambandet mellan vad karaktärer säger och tänker öppnade upp hela boken för mig. Med det sagt så är detta inte en roman jag kommer längta efter att läsa om, men den är absolut spännande om man tittar på djupet.

Illuminae

While I was waiting to get my hands on Obsidio, the last instalment in the Illuminae files series I decided to reread the first novel. It's been two years since I read it for the first time and it was just as amazing as I remembered it. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff have created an insane ride across the universe. Here are the reasons why you should pick this novel up if you haven't already!

The story starts on the day that Kady breaks up with her boyfriend, Ezra. It was one of the hardest things she has done in her life but that was before her planet, Kerenza IV, is invaded by BeiTech Industry and Kady narrowly escapes to science vessel Hypatia. Ezra is among the few thousand other people who manages to get of Kerenza but ends up on battlecarrier Alexander. Together with Hypatia, the Alexander along with another science vessel, Copernicus, escapes and starts their long journey to Jumpstation Heimdall. The only remaining ship from the assault, the Lincoln, takes chase and without the possibility to escape through a wormhole, the three ships are left with no choice but to run as fast as they can and hope that the Lincoln won’t catch up to them. But what first seems to be the biggest problem, the escape from the Lincoln, soon pales in comparison to what goes on inside the Copernicus.

I could pretty much sit here and talk about this book the entire night. It has everything I could ever want in a book and more. First off, it’s a story set in 2575 involving colonized planets and spacetravel. Second, it’s a sweet love story that does not take over the entire story. Ezra is a big softy with a brave heart always trying to do what’s right. Kady is the sassiest girl south of Sasstown with a big knowledge of coding and hacking which she most often uses for illegal reasons. There’s also a mutating virus turning people into brainless killers spreading on the ships and the battlecarrier’s artificial intelligence (AIDAN) was damaged when the Alexander escaped at Kerenza and now seems to turn against its own fleet. Help is at best six months away and all the while the Lincoln is slowly catching up to them. We are basically talking about explosions, zombie-like killers, an insane computer, explosions, a spacechase, a love story, crazy hacking skills, a big scoop of sass and explosions. Did I mention explosions? It does not get any better than this.

Taking a look at our characters; we have our two main ones in Kady and Ezra and, partially, in AIDAN. Important side characters include general Torrance, a computer guy named Byron Zhang, Ezra’s friends Dorian and McNulty and a few commanders and high ranking military personnel. We get to know Kady closest but since the story isn’t an actual text like regular books but is instead told through a series of classified documents, video surveillance footage and direct messages as well as data recovered from AIDAN, we don’t get to come any closer to Kady than reading her journal at times. You can still feel how angry and sad she is though, how she fights with everyone but herself most of all. How she puts all her energy and effort into finding the truth instead of letting herself break apart. She’s hardcore, a real badass and a sassy one at that. She makes extreme sacrifices, knowing what she has to give up to save strangers and when she’s forced to kill someone, even though it’s a crazy lunatic who tried to murder her, she makes the choice of not killing again because she knows that that’s what truly breaks you apart. She’s hard on the outside but deep down has a soft heart and she’s absolutely perfect to carry the heavier load on this novel. Ezra, on the other side, seems like a tough guy when you look at him but it doesn’t take many pages to figure out that he’s a sweetheart. While Kady is not working on the Hypatia, Ezra is conscripted into the military aboard the Alexander as a fighter pilot. Despite Kady saying she would never talk to him after they broke up they're left with no choice but to work together across the two spaceships to unravel the truth.

Kady and Ezra brings the story forward but there wouldn’t even be a story without AIDAN. AIDAN is nothing but statistics, facts and, as one character in the book says, a big calculator, but when reading through the data from AIDAN it becomes clear that the machine actually has feelings. This in itself creates a very interesting side-story and while AIDAN seems to be a crazy computer trying to kill everyone and everything, I actually have a soft spot for it and found myself not only understanding it but also caring for it. I think that AIDAN was one of the best and most interesting things Kaufman and Kristoff could’ve put in the book.

Since this is not an actually story with chapters but instead told through documents and interviews, the feeling of reading Illuminae is quite different. It’s an unusual way of telling a story but I really liked it and it with a lot of added details in style and layout, writing the novel this way brought a new depth to the story. The artwork, the cover as well as the inside of the book, was amazing. Black fingerprints on papers along with blood and coffee stains were among the details that made the layout even more believing. The direct conversations between Kady, Ezra and their friends was written in slang with various amount of smileys and typos, which again only added to the feeling of it all being real. I was amazed at how much feeling could be conveyed through documents in this way, rather than through the eyes of characters.

The ride you take when you start reading this book is something out of the ordinary. There are only a few books that I've taken to my heart as fast as this one. It’s an incredible adventure, one I definitely think you should take. It has something for everyone and it’ll leave you breathless and longing for more. Illuminae is a masterpiece, you won’t regret reading it.