When I got the email telling me I was approved for an eARC of Aurora Rising, I literally gasped so loud and hard that I breathed in some of my own spit and then spent the next 3 minutes coughing my lungs out. One of my most anticipated releases of 2019, I could not believe my good luck! I forced myself to finish my current read – a book like this deserves my full attention – and then dove right in!
Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff are easily my favorite literary duo. The Illuminae Cycle was freaking AMAZING, and proves that they know how to do SciFi right. I knew Aurora Rising was going to be equally epic when the tagline was first released: They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. I mean, how could this possibly not be amazing? PLUS, they promised us SPACE ELVES, and I am allll about that life!
I am going to keep this review spoiler free out of respect for the fact that the book hasn’t even released yet and because I am not that cruel. This time. Read on!
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 tech-wiz 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 inter-dimensional 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.
Holy balls. This book fulfilled every expectation I could have asked for, and then some. It has a huge cast of seven awesome characters, all of whom get a POV throughout. Allow me to break down how brilliant they all are.
Tyler is our Alpha (squad leader) and is everything you’d want in a captain. He’s brilliant, the top of everything, a total team player, and – bonus points – Super Attractive. He reminded me a bit of Rhys from Obsidio (remember his Perfect Hair?), but only in all the best ways. He is definitely the fearless leader here, and drove a lot of the story.
Scarlett is Tyler’s twin and is the Face of the squad; the diplomat. She is equally good looking, and is also super good at what she does. She’s all sorts of sassy and I love that about her. In addition to that, she’s a bit of a man-eater, which I feel opens up some possibilities as the series progresses.
Zila is the Brain, and suits the position perfectly. She also has the least amount of POV in the book, which just reinforces her total lack of social-skills. She is almost mechanical in her demeanor, and it’s crazy how smart she is. She’s also a little trigger happy and has a well-earned reputation for knocking people out with her disruptor gun. I feel like she is just a futuristic, slightly more violent, Luna Lovegood (right down to the earrings).
Fin is the Gearhead (aka the tech and maintenance guru), and is one of the 2 non-humans in the crew. He is Batraskan, a race with perfectly white skin and eyes and hair, and who also have like four sets of biological parents and a very complicated familial system. He’s absolutely hysterical and seemingly incapable of not being sarcastic or quippy. He’s also a bit of a flirt, and isn’t choosy about who is attentions are focused on.
Cat is our Ace (the pilot) and she goes by the call-sign Zero, which seems like it might be an insult but is actually because she misses her target zero percent of the time. She has mad piloting skillz and can fly just about anything. She’s also totally in love with Tyler, which is something everyone seems to know but also take pains to avoid discussing. She’s a bit of a brawler, but rocks a badass faux-hawk so you know she’s probably awesome.
Kal is the final member of the squad, and is the Tank. It is in him that we have the promised space elves!!! Crazy tall, olive skinned, he has pointed ears, long silver hair that is kept in braids, and bright violet eyes. I envisioned him as a mix between Rowan Whitethorn and Legolas, and I am about that life. He’s also a total badass, and a bit of a jackass. But Auri is constantly making LOTR references at him, which go RIGHT over his head, and it is amazing.
Auri is the wildcard here. Full name Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, she is the face on the cover and the reason for everything that happens in the book. She actually handles things remarkably well considering she woke up out of a cryo-sleep that was meant to last months and instead lasted centuries. She has also developed a hefty dose of powers.
Honorable mention to Magellan, the sassy little AI that is responsible for the most used quote in the book: “SILENT MODE”. So far it shows no psychopathic or homicidal tendencies. *knock on wood*
I repeat, holy balls. This book was filled with twists and turns and so many unexpected things that I was on the edge of the metaphorical seat the whole time. This has all of the great space flavor that Illuminae has, but with fewer deaths. Not to say there aren’t any murderous baddies (there are), or mass destruction (there is), but the kill count is still “reasonable”. I say that with many air quotes because there are some pretty unacceptable death-like moments that I am NOT OKAY WITH. Then again, it’s not a Kaufman/Kristoff novel if I don’t end up yelling WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!
The story takes us to several different locations, each rife with trouble and drama and danger – just the way I like my SciFi to be! We see a lot of growth among the crew, as they start to become comfortable with each other and work as a team. Auri’s powers are a driving force in the plot, and we see them cause just as many issues as they solve (probably more, tbh). The book does not leave us hanging over the edge of a cliff, exactly, but some SERIOUSLY CRAZY SHIT happens, and I need book 2 RIGHT NOW!
Seriously though, you will want this book. It is officially out on May 7th and you can order it here, and then take your receipt over here for a kick-ass pre-order offer! This pre-order offer is so ridiculously amazing that people are losing their everloving minds about it to the point that Jay had to yell at people for yelling at Amie, and also Jay became a horse-lord. So clearly you need to buy the book and submit the things! You will thank me later!