Author: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
Series: The Aurora Cycle, #1
Page Count: 470
Publisher: Knopf Books
Original Publication Date: 2019
Genre(s): Young adult, Science fiction
In 2380, Tyler Jones is finally graduating from Aurora Academy. Top of his class, he knows he’ll have first pick in assembling his dream team. That is, until he almost dies rescuing Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, a girl stuck in cryosleep aboard a centuries-lost spacecraft. That stunt puts him dead last, meaning his squad is now comprised of everyone else who was to be chosen last: the rejects, the troublemakers, the losers. And there’s the mysteries surrounding Aurora, a girl centuries out of place with some very strange abilities. But Tyler soon finds out his crew isn’t his main concern—protecting Aurora is.
Honestly if you take away one thing from this entire review, let it be this: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff know how to write a book. Do not question this statement. It is truth. Let it be known.
Aurora Rising is the first book in a YA sci-fi series by dream-team Kaufman and Kristoff, the same geniuses that brought us the incredible Illuminae Files. If you loved that series, trust me—you’re going to devour this novel. It’s told in first-person POV with chapters alternating between all 7 squad members. I know, I know—that might seem like a lot of perspectives to juggle, but it’s not. The characters’ voices are established right off the bat. Each character has a unique voice and personality, and are so well written, that they never muddle together or become confusing. It’s actually really awesome to see seven totally distinct personalities—characters that really don’t like each other that much—slowly come together not only as a squad but as friends. Family, even. So, so good.
As for the plot, I loved it. While reading the Illuminae Files, I remember appreciating that every book wasn’t just about one thing: a space war, or a virus, or a societal collapse—it was so many aspects all thrown together to create this intricate, layered story. And the dream team brings that same approach to Aurora Rising. On the suface, it seems to be a book about a rag-tag team of space cadets stuck in the middle of a race war. But as you move through the chapters, the layers start to peel back and you discover so much more about the story and the lives of the characters and this crafted world in general. I was never bored reading Aurora Rising, and I’m confident that the next book(s) will leave me just as enthralled.
The book is divided into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 gave me serious Illuminae meets Guardians of the Galaxy vibes, and I was so into it. But Part 3 throws a curveball, and the mood changes entirely. Kind of like when the virus is introduced in Illuminae and the mood shifts from okay this is really cool to oKAY now I’m creeped out. Part 3 felt like Annihilation meets Alien: Covenant, with some Wilder Girls thrown in, too. So intense and unnerving and thrilling. An epic conclusion to a truly great book.
Back to the characters really quick: loved them all. Though love Cat probably the least? I wouldn’t say I dislike her, but I also wouldn’t say I am emotionally attached to her in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I love a snarky, badass lady as much as the next gal, but she just rubbed me the wrong way a little. And of course I can’t end this review without declaring my OTP: Kal + Auri ❤ Fight me. I am here for a slow-burn romance.
So now I’m having one of those book hangovers. And so soon after my Wayward Son hangover. Not cool. Luckily for me, book 2—Aurora Burning—comes out in, like, two weeks. (I preordered it about halfway through reading Aurora Rising.) What will I read in the meantime, you ask? I have no idea. I only want to continue this story.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I actually buddy-read this book with my friend Heather at A Cozy Fox Blog. I think she enjoyed it just as much as I did, but I’ll be sure to link her review here if she writes one! I will say, we both blew through this in, like, fewer than two days, so it’s obviously a great read. (Heather also preordered book 2 while halfway through.) She recommended reading Aurora Rising again, just to have something to read until Aurora Burning arrives, and I know we just finished reading it but also I don’t want to read anything else so…maybe?