Aurora Rising Book Review
It’s sad to say that I expected better but I did. The hype – there was so much hype! I was SO confident I would love this because Jay and Amie have never let me down; alas, this book was, unfortunately, a great disappointment for me.
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.
Even though as readers, we say that we like to be thrown straight into a new world that’s full of action and lovable characters – you also don’t want to be literally thrown into it, but rather, eased into this brand new world and meet these new characters in a timely manner. When I think of Aurora Rising, I think about how quickly I suddenly had to accommodate to this space place and meet this new crew that was quite hard to distinguish between. The novel started out fast and furious with lots of action and we meet what we think is the main character, Tyler Jones, but really isn’t? Unlike Illuminae, I wasn’t sure who exactly was the main character(s) – was it everyone in the crew? or just Tyler and Aurora; the first two protagonists we are introduced to?
Tyler, the golden boy/chosen one trope of this book, finds this girl in the middle of nowhere in a lost spaceship who’s called Aurora; a girl people are very interested in because she’s been found in a specific area that’s inaccessible and shouldn’t contain any life. I won’t go into the finer details of the plot or the other members of the because the blurb can tell you that above but we also meet Tyler’s new squad of unlikely companions that while they held much diversity, also didn’t convince me much on their personality. The fact that each crew member in this squad and basically every “crew” in YA books coming out these days are so strongly pushed as being “different” but bringing something special to the team has been a little too reminiscent of Six of Crows. While I liked that each squad member had different skills to bring to the table, I don’t think there was even enough time for the character development I wanted from this crew. Well, there wasn’t much character development at all and this novel focused more on comedy, supposed surprising teamwork from individuals that just don’t traditionally fit each other and fitting in that space heist action. Some moments meant to be soft and character-driven weren’t fleshed out enough that it came off as a little cringey. I didn’t feel like I knew the characters well and frankly stopped caring about figuring out the difference between Scarlet and Cat at one point because I just wanted to see what happened next and for the book to get on with it. Aurora felt quite bland and I didn’t really appreciate the random, half explained love triangle that occurred at one point.
In short, character development and even the plot felt rushed. And there is a difference between rushed and fast-paced, but this novel happens to be both.
I honestly feel like this book (even at its current near 500-page average) could’ve been much longer. I would’ve even appreciated a more Laini Taylor slow burn that would cut the amount of scenes/events that happened in half. The comedy and dialogue fell quite flat for me and although there were times where I shared a small laugh (mostly Finian who basically seemed to carry this book for 75% of it), I just wish that this book had as much wit and charisma as we were promised and obviously what it set out to have.
I tried to read this book optimistically even though I could feel the waves of writing trying too hard falling off the pages. What positives I can say is that I read this book pretty fast; it was pretty easy to read but by about halfway, I did just want it to be over and done with. The plot wasn’t very predictable in terms of knowing what would come next but also was kind of predictable when you actually got to whatever twists and turns the authors had in store.
This book did try to sneak in bits of mixed media similarly to Illuminae. These were files that explained some background knowledge and pushed out the world-building and character roles a little more, but those were quite sarcastic and trying to be too funny that again, it fell flat and I couldn’t really get into it to the point that I skim read most of them after the first few.
I do say that I did enjoy it to a degree despite the disappointment, but it felt a lot like a subpar middle-grade sci-fi with not much development nor thought-provoking material apart from the tiniest dip into questions of morality (which most middle grades tend to have anyway cause right vs. wrong is such a popular topic). I don’t think I’ll be finishing off the series but I’ll definitely be looking out for spoiler reviews for what happens next. I still believe in the immense talent Jay and Amie have as writers so I’m looking forward to their future releases, who knows – maybe the sequel will be a total upgrade and will end up finishing this series.
I know I’m a bit late with my review cause I have been going through things and not blogging much (see my previous post), but if you’ve read this one, what did you think?
Until next time,