By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Soon after the events out near the Kerenza colony take place in the book Illuminae, with the giant BeiTech corporation attacking the illegal mining operation there and then trying to get rid of all the survivors that were rescued by nearby United Terran Authority ships, things start getting dangerous aboard the Jump Station Heimdall. That’s where the survivors are headed, to try to get back from the very distant reaches of space to more concentrated civilization via the wormhole that’s generated at the jump station.
In this book, the events focus on the people living and working on the Heimdall, including Hanna Donnelly, the pampered only daughter of the station commander, and Nik Malikov, a (reluctant) member of an infamous crime family. Hanna and Nik mostly interact only when she wants to get some illegal substance from him to help celebrate Terra Day; he’s interested in her but she, naturally, shoots down every advance he makes. For one, she’s already in a relationship with a very handsome crew member, and she’s not going to get involved with a shady character, anyway.
Their situations change drastically when BeiTech sends a “cleanup crew” to the jump station to prevent word of the Kerenza incident getting through to the rest of civilization. BeiTech fully intends to reduce the survivor list to zero and shut down any communications about its deeds. Of course, in this book, just as in Illuminae, some scrappy teens decide they’re not going to let BeiTech get away with it, if they have any say in the matter. Hanna and Nik end up as unlikely allies throughout a long siege that sees plenty of deaths and close calls, including malfunctions in the wormhole that could change reality as they know it.
This book was just as entertaining as Illuminae, presented in the same style, with “transcripts” of audio and video files, emails, instant messaging between people, schematics and so on telling the story. It had plenty of danger and drama, some weird extra threats playing into the big picture of problems, and some romantic storylines happening. I didn’t find myself as surprised by some plot lines here as I was in the first book, though. In part that’s because I had some idea of how the authors are putting together their plots (very similarly to the first book), but I just had an easier time seeing how some issues were going to be resolved. Lots of fun, quick pace (though it’s still harder and slower for me to read through all the crazy ways they present things than if it were a standard novel), entertainment I’ll look forward to repeating with the third book when it comes out.
Rated: Moderate. It’s almost a high, just for body count and blood shed. The bad characters don’t bat an eye at killing people, and there are lots of deaths in various ways. Language is almost all blacked out of the “report,” just as in the first book, but it seems like it’s more frequent, and it’s pretty easy to fill in the blanks in your head. Sexual content includes a couple scenes of just kissing, but more references to what characters would like to do (in not too-detailed ways), to having lost items of clothing and to just the fact of having had sex or made out.