Tag Archives: alternate universes

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. October 18, 2016. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 672p. ISBN: 9780553499162.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 800.

Brace yourself for GEMINA—the highly anticipated sequel to the book critics called “out-of-this-world awesome”—featuring journal illustrations by bestselling author Marie Lu!

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.
The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

Sequel to: Illuminae

Part of Series: The Illuminae Files

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Drugs


Video Review


Booklist (July 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 21))
Grades 8-12. Rich daddy’s girl Hanna, House of Knives gang member Nik, and his computer-savvy younger cousin Ella get caught in the battle onboard jump station Heimdall, where BeiTech Industries is eradicating any signs of its earlier deadly attack on a small mining outpost. This “clean-up” includes destroying the Heimdall, its residents, and the outpost survivors traveling on inbound spaceship Hypatia. Hanna, Nik, and Ella may be the only ones able to prevent BeiTech from succeeding. The Illuminae (2015) sequel is actually the documents from BeiTech’s trial, including e-mails, surveillance footage, transcripts, chat logs, schematics, and diary entries. The authors are truly adept at creating darlings and demons using nontraditional narrative forms, and the parallel conversations late in the book are seriously clever. Kaufman and Kristoff are even better at pacing, keeping track of characters like air-traffic controllers, and using competing countdown clocks to indicate impending doom. The gory addition of the jawless, parasitic lanima pushes the book to the border of sci-fi and horror. A riveting addition to Kaufman and Kristoff’s space saga. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This new installment in the blockbuster Illuminae trilogy is getting serious publisher promotion, including a national author tour.

School Library Journal (September 1, 2016)
Gr 6 Up-While the first book in the series, Illuminae, followed the account of the Hypatia, the only surviving spacecraft of the Kerenza colony attack, as it hurtled toward the Heimdall space station for sanctuary, this sequel describes the experience of Hanna, who lives aboard the Heimdall. She is the daughter of the space station commander, and while this remote post is fairly quiet, her world unravels when agents attempt to seize control of the space station in order to destroy it and ensure no witnesses survive. Hanna finds an unlikely ally in Nik, an unsavory gang member who deals “dust” in the space station, as they attempt to defend the Heimdall, save the Hypatia, contain vicious alien creatures, and fix a rip in the space-time continuum. The narrative is presented in a dossier-style compilation of emails, journal entries, diagrams, and transcripts. These documents serve to convey the deeply satisfying story line in a creative and engaging way, making this series an exceptional recommendation for discerning and reluctant readers. The characters are intensely believable, and it will be easy for teens to share in Hanna’s losses, betrayals, and accomplishments. Kaufman and Kristoff have woven such an intricate and compulsively readable tale that fans can revisit the text and make new discoveries each time. VERDICT An excellent choice for science fiction lovers as well as those new to the genre; a must-have for library collections.-Paige Rowse, Needham High School Library, MA

About the Authors

Amie Kaufman is the New York Times and internationally bestselling co-author of The Illuminae Files (Illuminae, Gemina) and the Starbound Trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light.) Her award-winning books are published in almost 30 countries, and she is based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband, their rescue dog, and an extremely large personal library.

Her website is http://www.amiekaufman.com.


Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Lotus War, The Illuminae Files and The Nevernight Chronicle. He is the winner of two Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over twenty-five countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are.

He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

His website is http://www.jaykristoff.com.

Around the Web

Gemina on Amazon

Gemina on JLG

Gemina on Goodreads



Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. November 1, 2016. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 496 p. ISBN: 9780316405157.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 750.

There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.

Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: The world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.

But in the midst of the chaos, Yael’s past and future collide when she comes face-to-face with a ghost from her past, and a spark with a fellow rider begins to grow into something more. Dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all–how far can you go for the ones you love?

Sequel to: Wolf to Wolf

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Violence; Smoking; The Holocaust



Booklist starred (September 1, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 1))
Grades 9-12. Yael’s job was supposed to be straightforward: join the Axis Tour motorcycle race by pretending to be someone else, win, and kill Adolf Hitler. While the world thinks she succeeded, the Führer still lives, having sent his own skin-shifting doppelgänger to the victory ball. That trickery alone is enough to make Yael furious and frustrated, but adding to the pile is the mess she’s made of her own life and emotions. Yael, a skin-shifter, has been impersonating racer Adele Wolfe. Now on the run from the SS, she is caught by this year’s winner, Luka Lowe, who’s still in love with the girl Yael has been pretending to be. As the Resistance rages on, trying to make Operative Valkyrie the new regime, Adele’s brother Felix is kept captive in Japan, held for information. These three stories intertwine and diverge in a truly inventive way, making this alternate history novel feel distinctly real. Each primary character—Yael, Luka, and Felix—is individual and distinct, giving the reader a sense of adventure viewed through different eyes. Graudin’s writing is beautiful, her story exciting and consuming.

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2016)
Graudin returns to her what-if-Hitler-won alternate 1956, concluding the story begun in Wolf by Wolf (2015). After Yael’s failed assassination of Hitler (actually a skinshifter wearing his guise), the resistance seems doomed. Fortunately, opponent Luka follows when she flees; less fortunately, Felix, twin brother of the woman Yael has been impersonating, saw Yael’s tattoos (which do not change when she shifts appearance, although everything else, including mass, does) and conveys that clue to the SS-Standartenführer. All three are imprisoned, Felix as a double agent, then escape and fall in with the Soviets. The road trip back to Germania to again attack Hitler makes up the heart of the story, culminating in a showdown and war compressed into a few pages. As in the first book, Graudin’s unconventional syntactical choices (“the wolf-fierce…of her iron voice”; “blitzkrieg” as a verb) and frequently overworked metaphors (“Gossamer feelings…as sticky, fragile, complex, and beautiful as a spider’s web silvered in morning dew”) combine with a tendency to tell rather than show emotions, resulting in a strangely flat affect. Most problematic is the treatment of religion: Yael’s rediscovery of her Judaism is symbolized by eating challah, and the pivotal romance between a Jewish camp survivor and a Nazi poster boy will disturb some readers, no matter how conflicted and ignorant Luka may have been. Strictly for fans. (Historical fiction/fantasy. 12-16)

About the Author

Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, South Carolina, with a severe case of wanderlust. When she’s not traveling, she’s busy writing and spending time with her husband and wolf dog. She is the author of Invictus, the Wolf By Wolf duology, The Walled City, and the All That Glows Series.

Her website is www.ryangraudin.com

Teacher Resources

Blood for Blood Book Club Guide

Around the Web

Blood for Blood on Amazon

Blood for Blood on JLG

Blood for Blood on Goodreads


The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 by Philip Pullman. September 20 2016. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 80 p. ISBN: 978553535143.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.3; Lexile: 340.

The eagerly awaited second volume in the graphic novel adaptation of Philip Pullman’s international bestseller The Golden Compass.

This second volume of the graphic novel finds Lyra in the far North. With the help of Gyptian fighters, newfound witch allies, and the armored bear Iorek Byrnison, she means to rescue the children held captive by the notorious Gobblers.

The stunning full-color art offers both new and returning readers a chance to experience the story of Lyra, an ordinary girl with an extraordinary role to play in the fates of multiple worlds, in an entirely unique way.

Part of series: His Dark Materials

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Smoking; Negative attitudes toward differing mental abilities



Booklist (August 2016 (Vol. 112, No. 22))
Grades 6-9. In this follow-up to Melchior and Oubrerie’s graphic adaptation of Pullman’s acclaimed fantasy series, Lyra and the Gyptians continue on their journey northward to Bolvangar to rescue the kidnapped children held captive by Mrs. Coulter. Lyra learns she must seek help from a distempered, renegade armored bear, Iorek Byrnison. Lyra also proves her worth to the witch consul, who promise her their help. Soon enough, Lyra, Iorek, and the Gyptians discover that Mrs. Coulter’s scientists at Bolvangar are experimenting with separating children from their daemons, and the process has fatal consequences. This graphic-novel adaptation is crammed with exciting action. The highly detailed, colorful art fills the panels with fine-lined figures, saturated hues, and atmospheric shadows, and while the print and panels are both small, everything is clear and readable. Battle scenes with Iorek, a powerful polar bear, make this volume, which covers the middle third of Pullman’s original novel, a bit more gruesome on occasion than the first installment. Pullman fans and new readers alike will appreciate this well-executed adaptation.

Kirkus Reviews (July 15, 2016)
The second volume of the graphic adaptation of Pullman’s modern classic follows Lyra’s adventures into frozen lands. Hewing faithfully to its source material, this sophomore interpretation trails headstrong Lyra Belaqua and her shape-shifting daemon, Pantaimalon, as they venture into the frozen north to seek out a villainous group that has been abducting children and severing their connections to their daemons. Aided by a mysterious coven of flying witches, a curmudgeonly armored polar bear, and an airship captain, Lyra endures bloody battles and uncovers shocking secrets as she learns the truth behind the kidnappings and mutilations. Dreamy watercolors organized into neatly ordered panels lend themselves well to the fantastical setting, creating a sense of sweeping cinematic scope. Pullman’s original magnum opus is heady and dense, and it may prove challenging for some; this adaptation, with its visual accessibility, can help those struggling with the novel’s complexity achieve an understanding without watering down the intricacies. This being only the second volume of three—and concluding with a cliffhanger—readers can expect a yearlong holdup before reaching the novel’s conclusion. While this may be a bit much to ask, those who have the patience should be pleased with Melchior-Durand and Oubrerie’s interpretation. An engaging adaptation, but some may wish to wait until all three volumes are available. (Graphic fantasy. 11 & up)

About the Author

In 1946, acclaimed author Philip Pullman was born in Norwich, England, into a Protestant family. Although his beloved grandfather was an Anglican priest, Pullman became an atheist in his teenage years. He graduated from Exeter College in Oxford with a degree in English, and spent 23 years as a teacher while working on publishing 13 books and numerous short stories. Pullman has received many awards for his literature, including the prestigious Carnegie Medal for exceptional children’s literature in 1996, and the Carnegie of Carnegies in 2006. He is most famous for his “His Dark Materials” trilogy, a series of young adult fantasy novels which feature freethought themes. The novels cast organized religion as the series’ villain. [He wants] to emphasize the simple physical truth of things, the absolute primacy of the material life, rather than the spiritual or the afterlife.” He argues for a “republic of heaven” here on Earth.

His website is www.philip-pullman.com

Teacher Resources

Golden Compass Lesson Plans & Activities

Around the Web

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on Amazon

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on JLG

The Golden Compass: The Graphic Novel, vol. 2 on Goodreads