Review: Aurora Rising | Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

AURORA RISING | Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff


Series: The Aurora Cycle (Book 1)

Hardcover: 480 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Publication Date: May 7, 2019


“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.”

I hadn’t really thought much about Aurora Rising until I looked at a list of upcoming May releases back in April and saw that this book was written by Kaufman and Kristoff. Since I’m a massive fan of the Illuminae files, I figured that trying another series written by the fantastic author duo wouldn’t be too bad an idea. And I wasn’t wrong! Aurora Rising was the stellar YA sci-fi I needed in my life right now.

Kaufman and Kristoff deliver once more with a wild ride of a sci-fi helmed by a ragtag band of space cadets who just kind of find themselves in a huge situation reaching galactic proportions. This book is action-packed from the very first edge-of-your-seat opening sequence. And we are kept further entertained by the characters and their hilarious banter with one another.

The world-building is done quite well, though it gets a bit lost under the characters and the mystery surrounding their impromptu mission to save the galaxy.

The story is told through multiple POVs (seven to be exact, eight including Magellan, the AI), and these varied narratives give the plot a multidimensional property, keeping the story from feeling too unoriginal. However, the downside of having so many POVs is that not all characters may be fully fleshed out. And to be truthful, there was only one character whose POV felt fully realized and it was not Aurora.

Tyler is a regular Captain Kirk with golden looks, perfect grades, and excessive luck. His sister Scarlett is a six-foot, smooth-talking beauty that can flirt her way out of and into any situation. Kal is an elfin-like alien with a conflicting sense of duty, impressive combat skills, and a soft side. Zila is an incredibly clever scientist who lacks the ability to connect on a social or intimate level (and who might be autistic or sociopathic, though this is not made clear which of these conditions might be correct). Cat is an extremely skilled pilot and is best friends with both Scarlett and Tyler. Auri is the girl out of time who holds a great power within her (The Chosen One).

And then there is Fin, the most well-developed member in the group, mostly because he seems to carry the most personality and personal story out of all the crew. And not only that, he is the most diverse character, not counting his being an alien. He is both bisexual and disabled but his profile is not reduced to those two aspects of his self. He is also intelligent, sarcastic, quick-witted, humorous, obnoxious, guarded, filled with jokes, and a plethora of other quirks and qualities that make him an easy favorite.

Besides Fin, the narratives of each character are fairly limited. Their backstory is hardly given much attention and their stories barely go beyond their talents and the roles that they serve within their crew. Because of this, the romantic subplots appear superfluous. One relationship, in particular, did not work for me at all, and it was unfortunate that their connection played such a large part in the overall plot. I honestly couldn’t care less for their romantic squabbles and frustrations. Why can’t friends just be friends?

Also, even though there is some bi representation, the authors somehow managed to set up only heterosexual pairings despite the possibilities. And they have every right to do so, but still it’s a disappointment to see the potential for a more robust and inclusive story only to have it return to something far more familiar but also a bit old and tired.

I know it sounds like I’m complaining about several things, but these are just elements that I noticed that appeared weaker than the rest of the parts that make up this story. Despite my qualms, I can’t say that I didn’t love this book. It’s a fun, thrilling adventure that is a mixture of YA tropes and sci-fi plotlines such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Voltron, Annihilation, and so many others that are familiar and consistently enjoyable even after all these years.There is room for improvement in the character department, but the action and humor and heart is there. And the non-stop action is a definite plus. So there is much to look forward to in the next installment!

My Rating

12 thoughts on “Review: Aurora Rising | Amie Kaufman + Jay Kristoff

  1. I’ve debated about picking this up and I think you might have just tempted me. However I might go for the audiobook when it becomes available.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh good! If you pick it up, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m curious about the audiobook. If you end up listening, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! 😀


      1. I’ve heard it’s a mixed cast again and as that’s always worked well for me, I hope it is a good one. I have actually ordered the physical edition from my library so if I do like it, I’ll definitely be checking out the audiobook!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve never gotten an audiobook with multiple narrators. I am intrigued. Will definitely have to check the audiobook out for this some day!


  2. I still haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of Aurora Rising (I’m hoping my friend is going to buy it for my birthday, it’s on the list I sent her so fingers crossed!) so I’m avoiding a lot of reviews (I had to skim through a lot of hours) but I’m glad you enjoyed this Azia. 🙂 It sounds like a solid start to a series m, granted with a few things which will hopefully be worked on in book two, but all in all a book I’m sure I’m going to love as well! 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m SO glad this hit almost every note with you! I recently won it in a giveaway and it was one of my most anticipated reads as well despite never having read anything by the authors (gasp, I know!!) but I mean, even the most hermit-like of book bloggers would have heard about them and their skills and I am very much aware of them xD
    Too bad about the characters weren’t fully fleshed out and the romance felt a bit flat at times – heteronormative relationships are very much alive and well and while I don’t particularly mind this aspect in books, I realise it would be selfish of me to not care about other readers and their own representation, so it’s still a failure.
    Despite all that, a 5 stars rating looks very very promising, I’m not gonna lie… Fingers crossed it’s just as good for me XD
    Wonderful review, Azia ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I hope that you manage to get around to reading Illuminae sometime then! Even though I enjoyed this one, I think Illuminae and Gemina are much better. And much more fun because of the multi-media format 😀 But since you have this one already (congrats on winning that giveaway btw) I really do hope you enjoy it and that it makes for a great first time experience with the author duo! ❤
      Yeah, there were some things that could have been done differently but what was done was still very good. (And my rating was actually 4.5 stars. I know. It looks weird XD LOL. Imma have to put up a sign somewhere on my new confusing rating system haha).
      Thanks so much, Sophie!


      1. Oh thank you! Yeah it should be good but at the same time, I’m scared my expectations are biiit too high ^^’

        Hahaha oh don’t worry, I struggle so much with ratings too – I never know if I’m being completely honest or doing the book a disservice and it’s stressful. I also keep comparing similarly rated books and wondering whether my reading experiences match… Ugh, I shouldn’t be worrying about these things!! xD

        You’re very welcome, hon ❤

        Liked by 1 person

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