I finished Aurora Burning last night and it was epic and I am ✨exhausted✨ here.
This is the sequel to Aurora Rising, and why yes I DID hear about the wicked cliffhanger and decided (wisely) to wait until book 3 was out before reading it. I am 😂 so glad I did. My brain melted a bit. Actually the whole book utterly exhausted me because it’s 500-pages of high stakes action and trauma dished out in casual little morsels so by the end you’re like, please give the children a break — but they NEVER GET A BREAK. YOU JUST CLOSE THE BOOK AND SILENTLY SCREAM.
This review will contain slight spoilers for book 1, but I’ll do my best to hide spoilers under tags!
It kicks off where book one left off, with the squad working through grief but also their next steps for saving the world. Basically there is a huge incredibly powerful evil force about to bloom in violent greenery and take over all species and turn it into a hive mind, but an ancient race called the Ra’haam left a weapon to kill it before they disappeared. Aurora is the Trigger to that weapon. Like, she didn’t ask for that, but okay. She’s suddenly developed psychic powers and this book is also about her (a) figuring out how to use them, and (b) really understanding her destiny.
In a way, the book had Middle Book Syndrome, in that it really is just setting up for the finale. There is always something happening, but even the first 100pages felt like the characters were simply on the run for their lives without achieving much. Like these kids are definitely a bunch of geniuses and matured through childhood traumas, but they also did feel like they were in their 20s (oops).
There are a WHOLE lot of huge reveals in this book too. Including finding out more about the Ra’haam and getting a sneak-peek at how bad the enemy is. Plus we get new enemies!!! Absolutely insanely unhinged enemies, thanks to Kal’s race. We meet his sister who is just … a war machine psychopath (but, look, I kind of liked her as a villain) and we get a taste of just how bad the Unbroken really are.
Look when I say the book is INTENSE. It is. The action scenes are nonstop, the characters are stretched to their limits, the emotional toll just keeps escalating. The reveals at the end are gut punches.
I am starting to be attached to the squad a bit 😪 Well, right up ’till the finale, when Stuff Goes Down and I actually shut the book sort of hating 80% of the crew 😂 But quick run down:
- Tyler continues to be Mr Perfect Leader, but he actually loses his shit here once and I am very pleased. Also his entire character is set up to do sacrificial plays and he does lean into that.
- I like Scarlett, but don’t love her. She has a leadership tendency, but it veers into better-than-thou a lot (as proved in the end). But I do love when she goes into mum-friend-mode.
- Finian oddly didn’t get a whole lot of page time or arc? But I think he’ll get that in book 3 considering his face is on the cover. I LOVE Finian, like, he’s still probably my favourite character. And having a disabled character at the front of a series is really epic to me. Just one thing — I do think his disability was treated as a “look at all the cool stuff he can do EVEN THO HE’S DISABLED” which, ya know, sucks. I get it for the tone and pace of this series. But it’s pretty much praised that he pushes himself to the max without “slowing anyone down”. At the same time, the crew never sees Finian as less, so that is nice.
- Kal is um, my new favourite?!? I really love him. I wasn’t sold on him in book 1 because of his insta-love-you-are-my-soul-mate with Auri. But son 😭 is beautiful but loyal and caring and so deeply loving of his whole squad. Also I maintain, entirely, that Kal did nothing wrong.
- Auri is there to be the Deus ex Machina, with her powers only getting world-destroyingly big, and her arc is just basically realising she’s the Chosen One and might as well embrace it.
- Zila had a lot of character development and we get to see more of her backstory. In my review of book 1, I talked about how she felt autistic-coded — and actually people got mad at me for saying this, and said it was her trauma. She is, um, still autistic coded even before her trauma. But I do believe it’s unintentional so I just shrug and move on. I think she’s a sweetie and I like how her earrings just change depending on what scheme they’re about to launch into. She also is allowing herself to feel things 🥺
I just want to talk real quick about the ending twist and Kal, but will put it in spoiler tags!!
ALL THE FEELS
Basically I had a lot of emotions, lot of rage and love and theories – which makes for a thrilling read. I do admit that a lot of the action scenes left me confused, and the sci-fi-tech lingo constantly leaves me in the dust. Not totally sure what happened the whole time, but hey, am confused but happy to be here.
I also missed the humour book 1 had, but understandably!! The kids are in strife for 90% of the book and not cracking jokes!!
Definitely starting Aurora’s End this week and gearing myself up for a sky-shattering finale.
“I told you this was a bad idea!” Scarlett gasps.
“And I told you I don’t have bad ideas!” I shout, kicking through a doorway.
“Oh no?” she asks, cracking off a shot at our pursuers.
“No!” I drag her inside. “Just less amazing ones!”
Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy!
Title: Aurora Burning #2
Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Date Published: April 2020
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Purchase: Book Depository, Blackwells
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The ferociously hot sequel to the international bestseller Aurora Rising, which sees the return of Squad 312 in an explosive battle to save the galaxy. By the award-winning authors of the Illuminae Files. Our heroes are back. Kind of.
First, the bad news: an ancient evil – you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal – is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.
Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favourite faces. And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri. Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.
When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them – but time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.
Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes – and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.