AURORA RISING Review: Kaufman and Kristoff Create Sci-Fi with Heart

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One of the biggest book conventions on the west coast is approaching fast! Yallwest has been in Santa Monica California for the past 4 years, and I personally have attended the last 2. I’m especially looking forward to the lineup this year, mostly because Jay Kristoff is attending. He and Amie Kaufman write some of my favorite YA Science Fiction. Their latest co-writing project is the The Aurora Cycle, a trilogy set about 300 years in our future packed with aliens and a crew of misfits I love. Here are some more reasons to add the first book, Aurora Rising to your reading list.

SYNOPSIS: 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.

Aurora Rising novel cover art

Awesome Aliens!!!

Kaufman & Kristoff’s previous joint series did not include any aliens, but that is not the case in Aurora Rising. Kaufman & Kristoff introduce several alien species in Aurora, which understandably leads to some amazing Star Trek level inter-species cooperation…and disagreement. One of my favorite things about Science Fiction is the formation of found family groups that need to solve big problems together. This book delivers on that kind of problem-solving in a big way, and I loved seeing how the crew worked together and leaned on each other when necessary.

For any fans of Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, some of the same ideas about alien society are explored in Aurora. There is a species call the Betraskan’s who live in large family groups, similar to the Aandrisk race in Chambers’ series. I loved comparing and contrasting these 2 races while reading. I highly recommend Aurora to any Wayfarers fans.

Aurora Herself!

I am happy to report that Kaufman & Kristoff have once again created a cast full of characters I love to love. Aurora is such a delight for me. She has a fair amount of damage, she is not good at everything she tries, and she’s forced to acclimate to lots of dangerous and intense situations. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the design and personality of Aurora. If you feel like you’ve been reading about the same main character over and over again, you will not feel like that here.

The other characters in the crew are equally amazing. There are a couple that fit more comfortably into familiar boxes. They’re smart, attractive, highly skilled space farers but trust me they use their powers for good and are a delight to watch in action.

Scary Space Sickness!!!

If you know my reading preferences, you know that I love a good plague storyline. While Aurora doesn’t contain a plague necessarily, there is another scary space illness introduced similar to the Phobos virus in Illuminae. I feel like there’s still a lot to learn about the origins of this new illness, and I cannot wait for future books to reveal more.

The scare factor in Aurora is not quite as high as previous work from Kaufman & Kristoff. For anyone who considers themselves a scaredy cat when it comes to horror books, I think you’ll be safe with this one. It’s more thrilling than truly horrifying.

What More could you Want!?

Aurora has a lot more to offer like cool Sci-Fi technology, different worlds, evil government entities, deep conspiracies, and plenty of inter-crew romantic tension. I’m looking forward to seeing Aurora in person, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes. I feel blessed to live in this time when Kaufman & Kristoff are writing together. Their work will live long on my reread shelf.

Have questions about Aurora Rising? Hit me up on Twitter! The book will be on sale May 7th, and if you preorder you can get lots of different merch depending on your location. Check out all the details for preorders here.

If you’re on Netgalley, you can request a digital arc here: Aurora Rising on Netgalley.

My name is Samantha Maybe! Follow me, on Twitter and Instagram for more of my bookish thoughts and check out all my other reviews and interviews, here!

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