Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Book Review: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay KristoffAurora Rising(The Aurora Cycle) by Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman
ISBN: 9781786075345
Series: Aurora Cycle #1
Published by Simon and Schuster Published on 7th May 2019
Genres: Action & Adventure, Alien Contact, Sci-Fi, Science Fiction, Space Exploration, Space Opera, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 480
Get a Copy:* Forbidden Planet, Bookshop.Org

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling authors of The Illuminae Files comes a new science fiction epic...
It's 2380 and the graduating students of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Tyler Jones has been a star pupil who hopes to recruit the squad of his dreams but ends up with a mixed and volatile crew.
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.
Vividly told in the seven voices of the team members, this is fast-paced, action-packed, wickedly humorous and fabulously entertaining. Described by one online fan as 'a mystery with tons of action. A kind of thriller on steroids with a fantasy feel.'

Aurora Rising is the first book in a new series called The Aurora Cycle by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I’d read books by Jay Kristoff before, and enjoyed the first book in the Illuminae series, so I had high expectations. It didn’t disappoint.

The Plot

It felt like the first few episodes of a TV show, and just when the series was really ramping up and getting amazing, it’s the end of the season and you’ve got to wait ages to see the start of the next season. That’s what this feels like. It ended on the mother of all cliff hangers, and the story doesn’t feel remotely complete. There’s closure about pretty much nothing come the end of this book. And that’d be great if the next book was already out. But it’s not. And I’m not good at waiting.

There’s not much of a chance to breathe with this story either. From the first chapter to the last, there’s always something happening and the authors skillfully weave characterisation and relationship around the action.

The World

Aurora Rising is set over 300 years in the future, where humanity has encountered (and of course warred with) other species in space. The Aurora Academy is a neutral organisation, purely created to help those in need. Think something like The Red Cross in space. It’s a cool idea, and one I’d like to see explored more thoroughly. As, whilst this squad is technically supposed to be helping others, they don’t really get the chance before their own crisis and drama happens. Long-distance space travel is achieved through The Fold, which seems to be something similar to travelling through an alternate reality. It’s an interesting concept, and again, something I wish was explored a little more. That’s the thing with Aurora Rising, I love it for its characters, but I wish some more of the world was really explored. I want to know more about all of the fun sci-fi stuff that’s going on in the background.

The Characters

As always, characterisation is my favourite thing in reading. And I feel like this is where Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman really shine. Aurora Rising is told from the point of view of… I want to say 7 characters. I’m not a massive fan of books that jump between characters like that, all in 1st person POV, but this was done so well. Each character had such a unique voice that I knew who it was without having to read the chapter title.


Our Alpha, the leader of Squad 312 and a character that from his description before I started reading this, I was sure I wasn’t going to like. And yet I did. Tyler just wants what’s best for the squad and Aurora. I thought he was going to be an arrogant jock-Type, but besides a little moaning at the beginning, he was nothing like that.


The main character/trouble starter. If it wasn’t for Aurora, the rest of the squad wouldn’t have come together and each of these character’s stories would’ve been very different. She’s an ok character, I wouldn’t say she was anywhere near my favourite. And I found her ability to deal with waking up 200 years after she thought she was going to wake up quite incredible. She managed to function instead of being a blithering mess, which either shows she’s the strongest character there, or maybe a little unrealistic. Who knows.


Scarlett is the Face. The diplomat, trained to deal with those that may be less willing to accept help. And she does it well. She’s charismatic, and uses her beauty to her advantage, more than once. It was fun to read her less serious interactions with the characters, but also good to read about her handling the emotions and feelings of the squad. Her sibling relationship with her brother was also a laugh to read, the typical sibling rivalry and jokes.


Zila is the Brain, the scientist, the logical. Is it weird if she’s the character I relate to the most? She struggles with emotion and thinks of everything with logic, and as the story progresses, you see her begin to experience emotions and try and deal with that. I loved reading her progression, often from other’s point of view, as her point of view was brief and to the point. Brains for the win!


The one character I had some serious difficult liking. Her pining and drama were a little frustrating at times, and I found myself wishing she’d stop moaning, especially in chapters that were from her point of view. She did redeem herself a little later on, proving her worth and loyalty, but I still wasn’t a fan of her as a character, and I think I was supposed to be?


Aww, Kal, with his slightly weird Twilight-esque romantic imprinting. It was cute, but sometimes creepy. I was still cheering for him to succeed by the end of it. He wouldn’t allow his violence to define him, which totally won me over.


I was laughing a lot, almost every time Fin spoke. Every good group has to have a bit of comedic relief, and Fin fills this role perfectly. He’s insecure, so covers almost everything with a laugh and a joke. His character was endearing and relatable in some ways. He was awesome.

Would I read it again? I read this twice before I even thought about writing this review, so yes, I can 100% see myself reading this again. The first time was just a simple readthrough, the second I used tabs to label my favourite parts.

Will I be picking up the next in the series? That’s not even a question. Of course.

Would I recommend it? If sci-fi is your thing, or even if it’s not. This would be a great soft, YA intro to sci-fi for those that might not be sure if sci-fi is something they’d enjoy.

Is it going on my favourites shelf? Yes.

This is one of those books I really enjoyed, but still feel isn’t a 5 star read. I think the character of Cat annoyed me enough that she began to sap my enjoyment of it.

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2 years ago

So, I was so excited for this, I preordered it, was ready, and then, got swamped with other books to read, but your review makes me realize I NEED to read this soon, especially before Aurora Burning! Great Review and I really love the layout of your blog btw!