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BOOK REVIEW: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

| 19 September 2019 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Allen & Unwin
May 2019
Paperback, $19.99
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell

Young Adult / Science Fiction


From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

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.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.



“I remember you now,” Tyler says to Fin. “You’re the cadet who irradiated the propulsion labs so he could get out of his spatial dynamics exam.”
“Technically, everyone got out of their spatial dynamics exam.”
“You were that frightened of failing, huh?”
“Are we bonding right now?” Fin asks. “I feel like we’re bonding.”

While not on the same level of inventiveness and engagement as the Illuminae Files by this Melbourne-based author duo, Aurora Rising is not without its merits. 

Readers who found the epistolary format of Illuminae hard to get a handle on will find this more conventional narrative format much easier to read. Fans of other science fiction works such as Firefly, Annihilation, and Killing Gravity, and those like their sci-fi with some lighter, funnier moments, are bound to enjoy this species diverse, interstellar space romp. Fans of the same might also be able to predict large swathes of what happens in the story.

But for those who like their sci-fi with plenty of banter and smart-ass characters, it’s a decent ride.

Within these pages you will find a variety of species, a station essentially made out of ships, far off places, space ghost stories and, of course, a space conspiracy!

Being a huge fan of the Illuminae Files, I didn’t feel this was quite as engaging as the previous series, and there were things that could have been handled better, but the different format, characters, and setting make it a little difficult to directly compare the two. Despite not being as enamoured with this first instalment, I am very intrigued by the story arc that will continue on in this trilogy and the underlying plot elements here, so it’s definitely worth continuing on.  Hopefully, now that the universe we’re playing in has been established, the series can really take off!

Category: Book Reviews

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