Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Young adult, science fiction
Hardcover, 473 pages
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.
Listen, sometimes you read a book and it’s just exactly what you needed to read, you know? Everything about it is just perfectly aligned with what you were hoping it’d be. For me this book was that.
I went into Aurora Rising with high expectations. If you know me at all you know I absolutely adored Illuminae (my twitter handle is even @niklasmalikov) so my instaneous response upon hearing that the dynamic duo behind that masterpiece of a series was writing something else was pure joy like a toddler getting a chocolate bar. And if the 5 star rating didn’t give it away, I was not let down in the slightest.
Confession time: I’ve never seen The Breakfast Club, in fact I probably never will unless my 80’s loving datemate runs out of other movies to put in front of me, but what from I’ve gathered via the interwebs I can safely say it’s an apt comparison. The characters are in this book are like a patchwork quilt that doesn’t match, they don’t look like they should work together and sometimes they don’t, but when they do they’re like a well oiled machine. I really enjoyed the variety of personalities within the squad because it felt like there was a character for everyone.
I personally liked every character for a variety of reasons, and in fact I’ve added 2 of them to my list of all time favs which for me is a big deal. I also really enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, there was a fair bit of bickering and disagreements but there was heart there too. By the end they all cared for each other.
The basis of the plot wasn’t wholly the most original, if I’m honest, by Kaufman and Kristoff weaved in elements that made it unique and entertaining to read about nonetheless. I really liked the “girl out of time” element Aurora brought to the story, I thought that was interesting and it gave me Captain America vibes which I always appreciate.
There was actually a lot of properties that I saw nuggets of, including the World Ship which reminded me a lot of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, one of my favourite sci fi movies despite the amount of critical reviews.
World-building-wise I found it interesting that they actually explained within the boundaries of their universe why all the alien races humanity discovered where carbon-based and bipedal and I think the way they still gave all the different species very distinct cultures was very well done. The method of space travel they used is also one I personally at least have never seen done before, even if the name The Fold just made me think of the Fold from Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone.
I’m also a bit of a spacecraft nut, and one of my favourite things about Illuminae was the actual diagrams of the craft Kady and her crew were inhabiting. Obviously we didn’t get that aspect in this book, since it’s written in prose, but Kaufman and Kristoff still described it well enough for me to form a mental picture.
The last thing I really liked was the way most of the characters aren’t distinctly paired off. There is one canon relationship, but none of the other characters really have a set romantic interest. There’s some hints, but overall they could go pretty much anyway.
I feel like I kept my chill pretty in check writing this review, so I’m going to use this last paragraph to say that I absolutely loved this book. I’m a huge huge science fiction fan and this was such a great addition to the genre. I want everyone to read it and love it and then scream about it with me please and thank you. (I’m Canadian so i have to use my manners.)