Since I adored The Illuminae Files, I was super curious to start this famous author duo’s next sci-fi adventure: Aurora Rising.
Like the hype was REAL for this one. 🙌🏻 Even I, who isn’t often won over by sci-fi, was left softly screaming into a galactic black hole in appreciation. I also am super proud of having Aussie authors be so so famous since mostly our books don’t even make it to the USA, let alone be bestsellers!! I assume Kaufman and Kristoff are successful because they strap their novels to the backs of wallabies to make ’em swim to the Americas sustained only on vegemite and the crumbs of lamingtons.
Anyhow. This book was was a lot of fun!
It’s mildly impossible not to compare it to Illuminae — so I have to admit I liked Illuminae better. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ However Aurora Rising has a loveable dysfunctional squad + the kind of sci-fi twists we all quietly live for + scenes to make you snort/giggle. Here for it.
| heart of the book |
Oh the squad vibes were everything! I’ve seen the authors talking about how they wanted found-family to be the central theme and they ACHIEVED. Although only truly 3 of the 6 squad was truly the “rejects”…oh and Auri who is here but has no idea what’s going on and is just silently screaming for 600 pages. Same, Auri, same.
I loved the crew (BIG squad but they were all easily individual!) but I only truly cared about Finian? Lol whoops.
🚀 Tyler: basically Goldenboy because he’s the academy’s best and brightest. Blonde, dimples, perfect etc etc. Ya know Jason from the Heroes of Olympus? Tyler is his long lost twin. Look, I like him, but also he was positive and an optimist and my pessimistic soul shrivelled a little.
🚀 Scarlett: Ty’s twin and like the super tall, cold as heck, epically smooth and everyone is in love with her including Finian and I. What am I supposed to tell you. She’s gorgeous and badass. She also has a huge heart and is simultaneously the MUM-FRIEND and the FLIRT-FRIEND.
🚀 Cat: super tattooed badass, the fighter-pilot, also desperately in love with Ty but neither of them is going to acknowledge it.
🚀 Kal: he’s an alien from a race that is kind of Elvish. So here we are, kid has pointy ears and they yell “HEY ELROND” at him once or twice. He’s designed to beat people up, and he’s standoffish and a total snob adn then he gets a crush on a human and is like “OH WELL PROBABLY NEED TO FLING MYSELF INTO A VOID OF SHAME.” Kal is beautiful and a drama queen.
🚀 Aurora: Oh she rises, believe me, like 200-year old sourdough starter. She’s biracial American/Chinese and has been in cryo-sleep until Ty wakes her up and she’s basically a 200-year-old teen surrounded by technology that is freaking her the heck out. ALSO she has creepy powers. She’s not !!! supposed !!! to be here !!!
🚀 Zila: I do not…understand why she was there. Her chapters were (no joke) like 3 sentences. She had about 3% of actual doing stuff and …look I’m uncomfortable, but she felt coded as autistic. But they referred to her as a sociopath and everyone’s mean to her because she’s socially challenged. If she *is* autistic, then she’s a terribly done stereotype. But maybe she’s not??? I hope she’s not.
🚀 Finian: Aka my LOVE. Honestly 10/10 would die for Finian, dunno about the rest of them. He is disabled and wears a special exo-suit to help him walk. The book also acknowledged his disability a lot — like how the suit was his sci-fi version of, say, walking with a cane. By the end he was really struggling with keeping his body going and that felt valid and true to disabled people using up their spoons. He’s also super queer and flirted with Tyler and Scarlett equally because we stan equal crushes. And he’s just generally a sassy little ass. I love him.
| the plot |
It did have a lot of your typical scifi cliches, but it was just a fun romp, so I didn’t mind a bit of “oh I’ve read this kind of thing before.” My only issue was how many Illuminae plotlines showed up here?? i have read this already sir.
But there’s government conspiracies and missing planets and telekinesis. These teens throw themselves accidentally into the criminal life and they are The Good Kids™ trying to be badass, but seriously being adorable while they run into true criminals and freak out. I LOVE THAT TROPE.
Also they sassed each other to death and back and I busted laughing out loud a few times. A family member also came into my room and asked if I was crying so…?? Thx. That was a laugh. How dare you.
I loved the diversity rep too! I can’t speak from an #ownvoices opinion for it all, but there were lots of races and abilities and some queerness. It also pushed back on toxic masculinity and let girls be into looking gorgeous and being badass. 🎉
(Just putting a big red X over the possible autistic rep and just hoping IT WASN’T or else I have to take my praise back lol.)
They steal things! they blow things up! They run screaming from very big bad enemies! The tag line is basically: they’re not the heroes the world deserves…or asks for…or even wants, lol, send them back pls what the hell.
| overall |
I had a lot of fun and it was a good book (if a little predictable if you’ve read Illuminae) and while it didn’t hit me emotionally (I am a damp stone apparently) I just had so much fun. 🤗
The cast was fab and the dialogue was spunky and sassy. Kinda concerned that these kids seemed to eat ONCE and that was like, a reheated synthesised piece of pork. They need to work on nutrition. But they were also nearly dying and uncovered something super bad and everyone’s gonna die if they don’t fix it. SO. 🎉 Good luck, Squad 312!!!
thank you Allen & Unwin for the ARC
Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | Booktopia |★★★★☆
\ 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.
| what do you think |
is this one on your tbr or have you read the Illumiane Files!? do you like big-squads or just small-friendship-groups? 🤗