TITLE: Aurora Rising
AUTHORS: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
AGE RANGE: YA
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.
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 all dead. Hundreds. Thousands. Every single person on this ship is dead, except her.
I want to come up with some sort of witty introduction to this review, something to “hook” you and convince you that whatever I can ramble onto this page will be worthy of this book, but honestly, I’ve just gotta tell you up front. I’m calling it now, in April: Aurora Rising is going down as my favorite book of 2019. I honestly don’t know if anything I read for the rest of this year will come anywhere near the magnificence that is this wonderful, hilarious, heart-wrenching, suspenseful adventure in space.
Thing is, impossible always comes with a price.
I already knew I was going to enjoy this; after all, it’s another gorgeous brain-child from Jay and Amie, the authors of one of my all-time favorite series, The Illuminae Files. What I didn’t know was how well Aurora Rising would hold its own against their first trilogy, how easily it would set itself apart (despite being another banter-filler, emotional roller coaster in the stars), or how singularly consuming it would be. I constantly alternated between reading this slowly to savor it and devouring massive chunks at a time because I just never wanted it to end, but I couldn’t get enough.
Once we walked the dark between the stars, unequaled. What have we become?
While the plot is fantastic, the banter is hilarious, and there are some surefire swoon-worthy moments, what really sells Aurora Rising is the rag-tag bunch of misfits in Squad 312. These characters are easily some of the most lovable, precious beans I’ve ever read in my entire life. I am endlessly amazed by how well these authors can make their characters feel so real that I want to protect and love them at all costs, forever, and become so attached that I literally miss them when the book ends.
I was born with the taste of blood in my mouth. I was born with my hands in fists. I was born for war.
The chapters alternate between their perspectives, and there are quite a few of them, but each of their voices are so particular to that character that I felt like I could’ve easily recognized whose eyes I was looking through, even without the chapter headers informing me. That alone is a nearly impossible feat for writers to manage, but it works so well here. We have:
? Tyler Jones, Alpha: Iconic golden boy image; he doesn’t drink, doesn’t swear, treats people fairly, does what’s “right” whenever possible, and manages to be totally lovable despite his absolute Lawful Good alignment.
❤ Scarlett Jones, Face: Tyler’s twin, absolute queen, can be sweet as pie but would probably skin you alive if you harmed a single hair on her brother’s head. We stan.
? Catherine ‘Cat’ Brannock, Ace: Pilot extraordinaire, hot-headed, tattoos everywhere, definitely not in love with Tyler, recipient of mixed feelings from readers and characters alike.
? Finian de Karren de Seel, Gearhead: Betraskan (alien) force who lives for sarcasm, rude jokes, and hotties of any and all genders. He’s disabled and lives inside a mechanical exosuit, and I would probably do just about anything to keep this little jerk safe. (Side note: as a queer reviewer who has invisible disabilities, I personally gave Fin’s diverse rep an A+ score and thought it was brilliantly and thoughtfully written.)
?♂️ Kaliis ‘Kal’ Gilwraeth, Tank: Syldrathi, AKA hot/tall/muscular/scary space elf, and also did I mention MY SWEET BABY. Mostly violent and generally misunderstood, a quietly angsty little soul. Jay and Amie, so help me if you do ANYTHING to hurt him… ???
? Zila Madran, Brain: Small, adorable, owner of oddly specific earrings, and a raging beastie who shoots first and asks questions never. Zila is… strangely and incredibly endearing.
✨ Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley: Last but not least, the title character, Aurora. Lost in cryo-sleep for 200 years, she’s understandably baffled, terrified, and a little bit furious. Oh, and she does freaky, scary, violent things with her mind. It’s dope.
“Who am I to deny gravity? When you shine brighter than any constellation in the sky?”
Seriously, I could spend another twenty pages gushing about this book. I’m already dying to reread it (and have the audiobook pre-ordered for exactly that purpose!), and can’t wait for the second book. Reading Jay and Amie’s work always means signing up for equal parts laughter and heartbreak, and a healthy dose of literally counting the days until the next installment, and it’s worth every damn second.
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Knopf Books for Young Readers for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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