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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Gemja: The Message by K.M. Messina revolves around Resa Stone, a teenage witch studying the sciences on the alien planet Wandelsta, who is tormented by dreams of Nitika, a spectral figure, and a gemstone. Resa finds a luminescent jewel in the planet's waste decomposition fields, sparking a chain of events that affirm her magical destiny. Resa's life becomes increasingly complicated upon her return to Earth, dealing with media attention, a book deal, allegations of witchcraft, and a stolen gem that her parents reveal is part of an intergalactic collection mission by the International Powerstone Protection League (IPPL). Amidst the turmoil, she forms a romantic bond with Matthew and embarks on journeys using astral projection. As her relationship with her past and the gemstones deepens, she finds herself in a chilling confrontation with a mysterious adversary in her dream realm. Resa's destiny intertwines with her grandmother's legacy, leading her to the C-QUEST Academy with the question of her magic potential and universal peace hanging in the balance.
Gemja is such a wonderfully well-written read and the character that author K.M. Messina has created with Resa is fantastic. Aside from being easily relatable, Resa's spunky spirit and courage are proven throughout, like when she reveals her mystical experiences to her skeptical brother, Dakota. She is also personality-plus, combining a hunger for science and her burgeoning witchcraft that adds depth and intelligence to a young woman. For instance, her decision to explore her magical abilities despite her deteriorating health, her commitments to her family, her personal growth, and her responsibilities to a larger cause, like her father's interplanetary peace mission, make you want to root for her. Messina's world-building comes to life with details like Wandelsta's hazardous waste decomposition fields, descriptions of alien life forms, and the complex social interactions at the C-QUEST Academy. Gemja is a truly immersive read for fantasy and science fiction fans.