AURORA RISING by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – double review!

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. 


Title : Aurora Rising
Author : Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Series : Aurora Cycle (book one)
Format : physical
Page Count : 472
Genre : YA scifi
Publisher : Knopf Books for Young Readers/Rock The Boat
Release Date : May 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis / Micky
Rating :  ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3 star review

AURORA RISING, to me, feels like what would happen if the coupling of Firefly and The Expanse had a baby with the child of Star Trek and The Losers. That’s a lot of movie references, I know. But this felt like so many things, a total mashup of weird and snarky and creepy, and it just seems to.. fit.

That doesn’t mean it was a perfect or totally solid book. So many elements made it seem that way but I’ll admit this wasn’t as smooth as the author duo’s previous series and some things.. well, I mean, some disbelief has to be suspended, of course it does, but this was a fun read, a bit of a wild whacky ride, and it’ll make absolutely great tv (guess that’s why it’s been optioned!).

There was a lot of build-up, a lot of mystery, in this series opener and I have a feeling (and hope) that as a result of having some of the reveals out in the open, on the table, book two will feel tighter. Much I think of what dragged this down for me was just trying to make sense of things while also bouncing between a lot of POVs.

And speaking of POVs. With a less savvy writer team, these characters might’ve been nothing more than walking talking archetypes. And thankfully that wasn’t the case. They weren’t my favourite ensemble, I didn’t fall in love with the dynamic right away, but when they broke off into pairs, or smaller groups, it worked. Being in their heads, each time the shift felt unique, not same-y, and if I had favourites, welllll. Can you blame me? There’s definitely lots to explore and I’m curious as to their dynamic going into book two as a result of.. certain.. events.. #spoilerz.

But though I hate to compare.. it really doesn’t match the greatness of ILLUMINAE. At all. But that’s fine. This is it’s own animal and I’m not here to argue apples and oranges. Because that’s what it is. This is an orange to the aforementioned’s apple but, I guess, I feel obligated (defensive?) to explain why I didn’t love it quite like I expected to.

But I am definitely looking forward to more.


Micky’s 3.5 star review

Double review and some mirroring of feelings over here. Hollis and I started this book together, same day…but I finished it two weeks later because I struggled with feeling engaged and investment in the plot. The good news is, by the end of the book, I had regained some investment.

The 312 squad was a great concept and their coming together as a team was pretty hilarious. All the quippy banter was to be had when they were together. I basically liked the team dynamic and most of the characters individually but there’s a whole lot of different species, physical characterstics and cultural values to process as you get to know them. I found myself confused a number of times. The world building felt unwieldy at times but I gradually got to grips. All that said, I still didn’t know Finian and Zila by the end of the book and I think I should have been more knowledgeable by then. The differing POVs didn’t always help reader cohesion with characters and the plot.

Aurora was a superb main character because there was so much to fathom and her initial appearance was just the surface of what was to come. I liked Tyler and Scarlett but Tyler seemed to lack depth, however I suspect this was about the walls he put up as he led the squad. My other favourite was Kal, again a mysterious character with depth and complexity, I kind of wanted to get my teeth into him…snigger. I am here for the pairing potential in its infancy in this book and that element gave me the feels and interest.

So, what didn’t I gel with? The pacing was up and down and I lost interest a few times so that I felt that I had to push through. I felt disengaged with the plot at times and the middle section of the book was a bit like walking through mud. I have to say though, the last 20% reignited my interest with fast-paced and exciting developments.

I am definitely invested in the bigger picture that this series offers with a slight trepidation about the bigger plot that was revealed in the end of the book; at the moment that doesn’t float my boat. I hope to go into AURORA BURNING with my love for some of the characters, carrying me through.

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