by: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Series: Aurora Cycle #1
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.
Long ago I started Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. I stopped after less than 2 pages. It wasn’t the right time for me, and for some reason I’ve never been back. Kristoff and Kaufman have had their fair share of accolades since, but I’ve always shied away. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I think part of it is that bone-deep quirk I have about bucking against the most wildly popular things. The other part is that, deep down, I didn’t want to be disappointed and end up writing Kristoff off.
Oddly, against both of those feelings, I’ve purchased a majority of Kristoff’s and Kaufman’s works. Is this normal?
Anyway. I started Aurora Rising as a buddy read with Sarah back in March. I’ve been in a stress-induced reading slump for a good part of this year (I cannot handle that we’re already 2/3rds through the year!). But I thought maybe trying to read this one, one chapter a day, would give me a small, tangible goal to pull me through it.
It didn’t quite work out for me that way. Despite enjoying the heck out of the first several chapters and really digging the characters, I set it down for months. Reading slumps really, really suck.
I finally picked it up again a couple of days ago. And have spent every spare minute reading since then. I did not want to put it down, I wanted to spend all the time with these characters in this fantastical world.
There are six main characters whose POV each chapter is in. They have pretty distinct voices, though I did have to page back, early in the book, a few times to see who the POV characters for that chapter was. Honestly, I love all the characters. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the trope of “found family,” but once I did I finally had a name for the thing that I love so much in books and movies.
A group of people, from different backgrounds, values, goals, and personalities coming together and coming to rely on and care for one another – it gets me right in the heart. It happens beautifully in Aurora Rising. And I loved every minute of it.
I’ve seen a LOT of people say that Aurora Rising feels like a mash-up. There have been a couple dozen different things it’s been compared to. And, honestly, none of them are wrong. This story, these characters, the plot, the worlds – it all feels familiar. We’ve seen versions and snippets of this play out dozens of times in myriad different ways.
This could let it fall into cliche and predictability. The fact that it knows exactly what it’s doing, and has so much damn fun doing it, prevents that. The smooth story-telling, interesting characters, vivid, expansive world and beautifully portrayed connections kept me turning pages well past the time I should have been sleeping.
It takes a lot to earn a spot on my physical book shelf, in my limited house-space with me, my wife, 3 kids, 3 Persians (soon to be 4), and 1 rambunctious puppy, but Aurora Rising is going to join my other favorites. I can’t wait to dive into book 2, Aurora Burning.
They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.