Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aurora Rising is the first book in a new series from co-authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. They wrote my favourite science fiction series, Illuminae, so I was quite excited to see what adventures they take readers on next. Aurora Rising is set in the year 2380 and opens at the Aurora Academy, a training academy for young cadets who wish to fly through the fold just as our main character is gearing up for graduation. Unfortunately, he is waylaid by a distress signal and misses his graduation – which means that he misses the opportunity to choose his squad mates in the draft. Tyler Jones, top of his class, is now stuck with a crew of rejects – all the kids that his fellow trainees didn’t want in their squads. Yikes.
Kaufman and Kristoff are great at writing a motley assortment of personalities and making you like so many of them, as different as they are. In general, the same can be said for this book. Tyler is the leader, the perfect cadet, and has some flaws so that you don’t find him to be boring. He is joined by his sister, Scarlett, and his best friend, Cat who both refused to be put in any squad other than Tyler’s. Kal, Zila, and Fin round out their group but it is their personalities that I feel we don’t get to know quite as well as the others. We are thrown into the story just as the action is about to commence, which makes sense for hooking readers – but gives me little to no backstory about the characters. How did they come to be in the Academy? What did they study? At least a chapter about that would have been fantastic and would have make the world and characters feel a little more real to me. Later into the book, we do get some details but it never feels like enough to me – but that is in part due to the large main cast of characters.
The plot itself is very fun, energetic, harrowing, and hilarious (depending upon the scene.) I loved getting to experience the squad’s interactions with one another and how their different personalities caused conflicts. That being said, the ‘big bad’ of the story was a little unique and honestly the least enjoyable part of the plot. I loved the scenes where they are causing chaos and mayhem when they were bantering back and forth, but the Auri has this weird chosen destiny and this thing is to calling her? Eh. I’m hoping that it is developed better in the second book in the series, because I can’t explain exactly what it what but that aspect just felt lacking here.
Overall, I still found this book to be enjoyable but there were aspects of it that didn’t make it perfect. It didn’t capture the same ‘lightning in a bottle’ feeling that I think the Illuminae series did for me – but I also didn’t love Illuminae until I was halfway done with the first book and the second one was hands down my favourite, so perhaps they just need some time to hit their stride. I still have hope and look forward to seeing where this journey takes us.
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Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman