4-Star · Book Reviews

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff | Spoiler-Free Review

30075662._SY475_Title: Aurora Rising
Author: Amit Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Genre(s): Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Amazon
Pages: 473
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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.


Y’all know the Illuminae Files is one of my all-time favorite series, so when I found out Amie and Jay were writing another book, I was so excited. I did read this last year when it came out and really enjoyed it, though I didn’t remember many of the details. With Aurora Burning recently released, I opted to reread Aurora Rising and actually record my thoughts this time around.

“Who am I to deny gravity, Aurora? When you shine brighter than any constellation in the sky?”


Squad 312:

art by @kiranight_art
  • Tyler – Golden boy, leader of the squad. Missed the draft to save Aurora and got the remaining cadets.
  • Scarlett – Tyler’s twin, snarky flirt, gifted diplomat. Scarlett is loyal to a fault, can read just about anyone, and leaves broken hearts behind.
  • Cat – Pilot of the crew, hopelessly in love with Tyler, suspicious of Aurora.
  • Fin – Gear head (tec expert), Betraskin, survivor of childhood disease and designed suit to aid with movements, snarky to a fault [expressed interest in Tyler and Scarlett – pan/bi? not confirmed, but we do have another book].
  • Zila – Science expert and brains, quiet and socially awkward, confirmed POC (brown/black, Terran). We didn’t get much from her perspective.
  • Kal – The Tank (muscle) of the crew, Syldrathi (space elf), ostracized by his people due to his family’s affiliation in is people’s civil war.
  • Aurora – Mysterious girl out of time. Aurora isn’t supposed to be alive and now she’s trying to find out what happened to her family and the planet they were supposed to colonize. Also, has dreams about the sexy space elf…?

“But they have not seen their sun die. Their people burn. Their world end. And they do not know, yet, that there are some breaks that cannot be fixed.”


This book starts right off with Tyler finding Aurora and meeting his squad. I do like that. There are some books that do a good job building up to the inciting event, but there are some times where just getting thrown into the action allows for a more interesting read.

That being said, I was underwhelmed with the first 150-ish pages, we mostly follow the characters fighting and being confused. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fair, they all misunderstand each other and we forced together before becoming refugees. But I found myself ultimately uninterested and bored while reading.

It wasn’t until the mini-heist adventure and the underlying conspiracy started to unfold that I found myself completely hooked. I really enjoyed learning about the history of this world with our characters, and I really hope we get some more in the sequels.

The biggest thing that gets knocked in this book is the humor. Personally, I didn’t hate it as much as others, but it wasn’t great. That being said, this is YA and high school me probably would’ve enjoyed it. There were some scenes that were done really well, Tyler and Kal in the control room come to mind. Fin, for the most part, was also really delightful to read from. But the constant reference to Tyler’s dimples or Scarlett’s well-endowed body was a bit grating.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, this was a compelling sci-fi novel full of conspiracy and interesting mythology, however, it has a pretty slow start and weak attempts at humor. I can see why people might not be a fan of this story, but I still think it’s worth the read. The characters grow on you quickly and there is the promise of an interesting trilogy ahead. The ending reveal of this one reminded me a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and I’m intrigued to see how Jay and Amie are going to handle this threat.


Star Raitings.007


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