Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

Published: May 7, 2019

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Series: The Aurora Cycle #1

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction

Pages: 473 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.0/5.0


From 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. 

After binge-reading and totally loving the Illuminae trilogy I decided to pick up another fun YA sci-fi series from Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Aurora Rising has plucky characters and plenty of action, but doesn’t quite tick all the boxes the way Illuminae did. It was still a very fun read/listen and the full cast audio narration was fantastic.

Tyler Jones would be what I would call your all-american football star kind of guy if those were even meaningful words in this story. He’s the top of his class, good looking, friendly, and headed straight for success. Until he decided to go do some flying to relieve stress and receives a distress call from a ship thought missing for centuries. Obviously, being the good guy that he is, he goes to check it out and finds Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley. He misses the squad draft because of this and gets stuck with all the folks no one wants (except for his twin sister Scarlet and their best friend Cat who choose to wait for him). And what a band of misfits they make. 

They get shuttled off to some two-bit delivery mission and no one is happy. And then it turns out they have a stowaway and also, a Syldrathi warship has shown up to destroy everyone. Things get messy quickly and the team ends up on the lam. 

This was quite an adventure as you may have gathered from my brief run down. That’s all good and fun, but the characters are what really drives this story. Of course I’ve mentioned Tyler, the golden boy. Then there’s his twin (and elder) sister Scarlet who acts as the diplomat of the group. This girl has mad social skills. Cat is the pilot and is one of the best the Aurora Academy has ever produced. She’s a real firecracker and is not so secretly in love with Tyler, but if you bring it up she’ll whoop your ass. Finian is the tech expert and despite his skills, he was passed over because he has to wear an exoskeleton suit to aid in mobility. He’s a Betraskan (alien species) and grew up mostly in low-grav environments after a childhood illness. Then there’s Kal, who is a Syldrathi (think space-elves). Despite the fact that he’s an incredibly talented combat specialist he was passed over due to his Syldrathi tribal affiliation. Lastly there’s Zila who’s a cold, cold woman but she’s quite the science officer. Oh, and then there’s Aurora, or Auri as she prefers to be called. Auri is way out of her time, having been in cryo for centuries, which is centuries longer than anyone should be able to survive out in the Fold. She’s the key to all this.

Overall, this was a tremendously entertaining read, but it didn’t grab me the way I hoped it would. Perhaps I was expecting too much after the magnificence of the Illuminae trilogy and I’m being unfair. These characters, while they have their very real and serious struggles, just seemed a little too YA for me. I liked them fairly well, but they had their issues and character nuances that drove me a little nuts. Like Auri’s continued reference to Legolas when being sassy at Kal. There were incredibly moving moments that made me tear up a bit, and lines that made me laugh aloud. So many great things and yet I didn’t quite love it. I’m undecided on whether or not I will continue the series, but the third book now has a cover and release date so I may wait to see reviews of that before making my final decision. I do love those covers though.

9 thoughts on “Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Review

  1. After enjoying the Nevernight series a lot, I was surprised I bounced off this one a bit! Still fun overall, but I struggled quite a bit with the dialogue, especially with everybody continually focused on how hot they were. Really loved the ending sequence though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Like you, I enjoyed the Illuminae trilogy very much and so I was quite curious about this new work by the two authors, but it seems I have to tone down my expectations, particularly where characters are concerned… Well, forewarned is forearmed after all 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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