Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

Review: Aurora Rising | The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Aurora RisingFrom the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

4 Stars

Science Fiction | Young Adult | Fantasy

Oh my lanta – with a synopsis like that, how could we not want to read this gem? Plus, it is by Kristoff and Kaufman, this should be a no brainier read. To me, it gave me this Illuminae series vibe instantly. That isn’t bad in the least, but it was definitely there for me. I mean, you have your space squad, jammed pack with what appears to be a killer character dynamic but the undertone of political corruption, daddy/family issues, bio-hazard hostel intelligence and some space adventures. Game set match for me comrades. 

Okay, fair warning before I start this jam – I am going to try my absolute hardest to keep this as spoiler free as humanly possible, however, and I do mean this with so much apology – I am not okay. I have some things on my brain that I gotta get out, so there might be a spoiler here or there. So if you have not read Aurora Rising or don’t want to know possible things, this might not be the review for you. I also may or may not end up a jumbling mess…

You have been warned. 

For me, science fiction is very dependent on world building. Yeah, I need the characters to jazz it up for me, but honestly, if I cannot see this world that you are creating, I will have a problem. But that is never an issue with these authors. These two, they also have such explosive descriptions that flow the imagination with the least amount of word clutter drowning the evolution of everything surrounding the characters to the plot. As the reader, seeing the world from the characters is such a key to the enjoyment, I think that is the best aspects of their writing style, I cannot gush enough with how much I enjoyed how this was setup. 

Something that is definitely the basis of my obsession for these authors is their ability to create such phenomenal characters. I mean it, seriously, the introductions alone are grab you by the balls entertainingly delicious. I liked the pretty boy Tyler, though alpha male attitude in need of a slap, he was pretty sly. Zlia was hilariously charming, just wanted her to shoot more people actively, I felt Fin was the softy, hardcore to the meat but pure gem in the heart – just adorable character and Kal was this piece of man meat builder that was either sarcastically hilarious or attitude rude central. Scarlet and Cat together, the sarcasm that radiated from these two was perfection. It was like every character had a placement, they had this particular description that dare I say gave me MMORPG feels which made my gamer heart swoon. Everyone had an interesting inner monologue, sometimes awkward, sometimes hilarious – but always intriguing. 

Auri is my only weird spot. I liked aspects of her, but overall I didn’t. I felt her lack luster of character growth semi bothered me. It was strange honestly, I felt even when it was her POV there wasn’t enough depth, even in the mixture of emotions, I felt I was missing this connection towards her. I will admit though, as the plot thickened, running from these crazy agents (… gasp Aliens maybe? Or enhanced Humans? Oh my word!) we uncover more and more about Auri, but not enough still for me to gain that connection. I am tempted to say she was almost unmemorable for me.

And speaking of the characters, one key thing that irked me in a lot of ways, but at the same time, I am slightly okay with the development. You know how I am with young adult fiction with romance mucking up the works right? Well here we are and we have several pairings it would seem. Some obvious, some fun, some interestingly creative, but nonetheless, it is really easy to see there is very little platonic dynamics at play and the romances will play a crucial role in the plot development. I think with Kal, even though I was not a huge fan of his character as the story progressed, I can see his dynamic more believable due to his racial connections. It made sense. I kind of liked it, but I also thought at the same time, it was like oh here, lets add another relationship and make it the more complex one. I do feel though because of Kal’s romantic implications towards the plot was initial for a possible foreshadowing of sorts – The Pull was such an intimidating and pivotal mention in my opinion. I think it has a lot to do with the Syldrathi, more to the backstory of hatred and the war, and quite possible unlocks certain aspects of Auri’s missing history. Though, admittedly, this lined up for things to appear like there will be at least zero triangles – so that is a plus right? Also, Kaufman and Kristoff are really good at making the romances flow with their plot developments without overwhelming the reader; so I am thinking this won’t be so bad. 

What really threw a curveball my way is that as much as I loved the characters, because I did, even Auri with my icky irks about her lack of character growth and the forced romantic pairings but ugh, these authors remind me that in science fiction no characters are safe, this includes my favorite one. I am not sure if I should use the word ‘dead’ because they aren’t that in the least, which gives my whittle sci-fi heart of probable possibility of a happy ending, but this brings me to the actual ‘villain’, or at least of what we find out. I am super curious (theory incoming shortly) about how this entity will evolve. Is there saving everyone? No one? How long and vast is this entity? Spread across time, space and colonies I am sure, but once our crew stops this force – where does that leave the victims I wonder. 

On another note, I will say, trying to not give out too much randomness or spoiling the whole damn thing, but I have a theory – one that I have to talk about. I am not sure if it is too soon, could totally be way off base, but I have a feeling something with Beatrice is at the root of things. Thinking back to the last conversation Auri had with her father involving Beatrice. There had to be a reason why Auri’s mother couldn’t go to Octavia III, why her father moved on from her mother so quickly, then the lost time. I really think either there was some type of gene-experimental procedures done, which could explain the powers and eye changing or a mixture of alien parasite take over. I keep thinking back and forth on the possibilities. The way the ending occurred, the one entity, the source of the potential villain which in mass was individual people but one mind. Curious I am. 

Overall, if you cannot tell, I really enjoyed Aurora Rising. I think by the end of the read I was left curious, questioning and honestly, entertained as fuck. The dialogue between the characters, even at weird or awkward moments, was super fun. I cannot gush enough about the characters. The world building was sublime. The detail – these authors slay me every damn time. 

All in all, a pretty good time – see you in the next one! 


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