This book starts literally just after Illuminae ends, but this time is focusing on two different teenage characters, this time on the Heimdall where Kady and the Hypatia are going. Hanna, the daughter of the captain of the space station, has no idea this is happening, as well as Nik who is part of a family of criminals. Together they must work to save the lives of everyone at Heimdall and on the Hypatia before it is too late.
This sequel was an absolute triumph. I adored the characters, which was relieving as I had concerns before I read this book that they might just be replicas of Kady and Ezra from Illuminae. I shouldn’t have worried. Hanna, although just as strong a female character as Kady, was also an original character in her own right. She was the daughter of the captain, meaning she was quite spoiled and rich. In contrast, Nik was a criminal, however he was portrayed as trying to escape this mould. I found it interesting to look at the common theme between these characters- they were both challenging the role they were meant to fill. Hanna’s character had more to it than just being a rich, spoiled girl, she fought to save people and in general was just so awesome and brave and completely destroyed the stereotype she could have fitted in to. Nik was at the same time breaking through being made to be a criminal and his father’s influence on him. The characters were definitely incredibly inspiring and just all round awesome to read about.
The characters were amazing, but so was the plot. It started off quite gently, which made me think, maybe this plot won’t live up to Illuminae after all. And then there was a huge shocking turn in the plot which made me stop in my tracks and think wow, these authors aren’t afraid of destroying their readers. And then it happened again. And again. I honestly had to stop and put the book down in disbelief and take deep breaths at one point. The thing is, this may make you think that it will become repetitive and predictable, but not once did I see anything coming. Every plot point shocked me and I had to think to myself, how did I not see this coming. Furthermore, at some points you think it is settling down, it may be devastating but you know exactly where it is heading, and then the whole thing is just spun around and once again you are caught out by the amazing pacing and plotting of this book.
If you are reading this and thinking, I’ll give this series a miss, it seems to dark and too much of an emotional rollercoaster for me, you are probably right. No, I’m joking, please read this series, you won’t regret it! But what I am trying to say is that it isn’t all heartbreak and death and doom, this book also has an excellent balance. There is a lot of humour and at times I even laughed out loud (yeah, from reading this review you can probably tell it was lucky I wasn’t reading this in public) and this book definitely has its lighthearted moments. Don’t worry, there is hope amidst all of the devastating events. Another point I want to make about the plot is the sense of doom that is laid out right from the beginning. I don’t want to mention how because it could be seen as a spoiler, but from a start there is a sense of inevitability. I do realise I am completely contradicting my last point, but whatever. There was doom, but also humour. This book is basically a perfect balance of the two and it is AMAZING.
Plus, I want to briefly mention the whole format of the book. This hasn’t changed a huge amount from the last book, and as probably most of you know by now, it is made up of a mixture of emails, accounts of video footage, messaging, diagrams and a new addition in this instalment, diary entries. I ADORED the diary entries. It was such a brilliant way of making the book more personal to the reader and helping them to connect to the character of Hanna, as I think it would definitely be missing that connection without the diary entries, which are mainly drawings by the way, actually done by the author Marie Lu.
The last thing I want to say in this review (and I promise this will be the last thing, otherwise this will get way too long) is the best thing about this series. And that is how it creates a whole event involving hundreds of people, but somehow it manages to personalise that. As in, we end up feeling so much and understanding the experience of what people are going through in this fictional event through the simple use of media i.e. texts, emails, diaries etc. Its hard to explain and you most likely have no idea what I’m on about, especially if you haven’t read these books, but I didn’t want to write this review without talking about the best aspect of the series for me.
To summarise, this book completely lived up to the expectations created by Illuminae and took me on a rollercoaster of emotions and actions. The amount of times I was shocked by a twist in this book is unbelievable. The characters also added to the brilliance of this book; rather than being replicas of the Illuminae characters they were original and inspiring. They challenged their roles and stereotypes and were just all round awesome. All in all, please read this series. It is so incredible and unique, and I have very high hopes for the final book.