December 22, 2017

"Am I not merciful?"


Honestly, I was super skeptical of Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. I'm not opposed to hyped books, but I just heard so much about these and wasn't sure they'd work for me. After all, I'm not generally a fan of science fiction. But I remained curious about that I couldn't resist buying the first when it was on sale on Audible earlier this year. I figured it was worth a shot!

When I was trying to think of a book for November's Picky Pledge Reading Challenge prompt, "A Book Because of the Hype," this series immediately came to mind. These are definitely some of the most-hyped books that I can think of from the past two years (in the blogging / YA world, at least)! Realizing they were perfect for this prompt was the push I needed to dive in instead of letting them languish on my TBR.

I started the Illuminae audiobook on a day when I had to spend several hours in the car, which was the perfect decision. If I'd only listened to 30 minutes or so, I probably would have turned it off, majorly confused, and just saved it for a later date. But since I had almost four hours of uninterrupted listening, I got completely hooked! It was a little hard to get into the story at the beginning, especially because it's written as a dossier of hacked documents (emails, interviews, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, etc.), but I found my groove. 

The plot is a little hard to explain or summarize without sounding so overwhelming, but here's the gist: on the morning Kady breaks up with her boyfriend, her planet is invaded. It's the year 2575 and two rival megacorporations are at war over Kady's home, even though it's just a speck at the edge of the universe. As you might expect, this interstellar drama brings Kady and her ex-boyfriend back into each others' orbits as they're forced to work together to survive enemy warship, a deadly plague, and an Artificial Intelligence system that seems to be taking on a life of its own. This is NOT something that would typically appeal to me.

Y'all, I can't believe how much I loved this story! Listening to it on audio and flipping through my physical copy to see everything was the best decision. I thought the audio might lessen the experience, but it only enhanced it. The production is insanely amazing - a full cast of narrators, sound effects and more that make it feel like you're hearing a movie (but better, of course). This might be my favorite audiobook I've ever listened to! I loved having a print copy of the book, however, because I did feel like the format and details made it so unique.

By the time the audiobook ended, I'd fallen in love with the characters and the world. So, I had to start Gemina as soon as I was done. And y'all, dare I say it? I think I loved it even more! Honestly, I didn't think it was possible. Was part of my love based on the fact that the main characters were named Hanna and Nik (ahem, yours truly + my husband) and a side character named Jackson (my dog)? Maaaaaybe so. But I also just enjoyed this relationship dynamic (pampered rich girl vs member of a notorious crime family) immensely! 

I can't say anything about this plot without spoiling the first book, so I won't describe it at all. However, I can say that I was pleased at the way this built on the action from the first book! Seeing how the stories tied together was one of my favorite parts. As with the first book, I felt my pulse pounding and heart racing the whole time I was listening! I really thought these books wouldn't be the right fit for me, but I'm so thrilled I was wrong.

There's a good reason these books were so hyped, and I'm excited that I get to add to the praise. If I had to nitpick, I will note that they're occasionally gruesome (murder and plagues, y'all) and there's a lot of cursing (it's "censored" in the book, but your mind fills in the blanks). I think the stories make you work as a reader -- the format is different, it takes a long time for certain questions to be answered and they're ambitious in scope. But, for me, they were unique, creative, and addicting. They’ll definitely be on my Best of 2017 list! 
Release Date: October 2015; October 2016 | Publisher: Penguin Random House; Knopf BFYR
Pages: 608 pages; 659 pages | Source & Format: Bought; Hardcovers & Audiobooks

This was my eleventh read for The Picky Pledge Reading Challenge that Alexa and I are doing in 2017! It's the perfect motivation to read books from my TBR and adds an extra dose of accountability, too. In addition to reading and reviewing one challenge book per month, we're answering three questions about each one!

1. How long has this book been on your TBR? 
Not very long! I bought the first in January 2016 - and really wasn't even interested in it before then.

2. What kind of hype (social media, Goodreads, etc.) made you want to read it? 
I think the hype actually made me MORE nervous to read it! I had such high expectations going into it and truly thought it would disappoint me. But I also know that seeing so much buzz on social media when it first came out, and then seeing so many high ratings from my Goodreads friends are the reason it was even on my radar in the first place. The positive Audible reviews were the final push I needed to give it a shot!

3. Did it live up to the hype?
YES, I GET IT NOW! They were so weird and wonderful, and I already want to listen to them again.

1 comment:

  1. That’s good to know about the audios! I liked the first, but haven’t gotten to the second. I totally remember the cursing — that kind of thing doesn’t usually bother me in books — it’s realistically how people talk sometimes — but I found myself thinking it was super excessive in the first book. I have some audible credits to use maybe I’ll go for Gemini that way for a different experience.

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