Grab yourself a giant galactic pot and throw in a dash of Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Jurassic Park, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, and a bunch of bubblegum and chrome and you’ve got Aurora Rising!
I’ve been anticipating the everloving hell out of this book for the better part of a year, and MY GOD did it deliver! Aurora Rising is a cinematic, action-packed, fast paced, and surprisingly hilarious space opera following a ragtag bunch of space academy misfits. It’s full of laughs, explosions, space chases, aliens, hot space elves, and FUN.
This book is so much wider in scope than I ever could’ve contemplated, and way more explosive. It makes Illuminae look like a neighbourhood dispute in comparison! Geographically and mythologically, this story is massive and expanded exponentially as I moved throughout the book. Each time I thought I had a grip on the ‘verse, Kaufman and Kristoff kicked open another door!
It’s a longer read, but it’s incredibly fast paced, cinematic, and manages to maintain the momentum throughout. There’s no point at which it drags, and even in the quieter moments each scene manages to propel the story or character development forward in some way. No scene is without a clear purpose. It’s enjoyable all the way through, and by the end you feel as if you’ve injected a 22 episode emotional rollercoaster into your veins.
As for the characters, the dynamic between #Squad312 is FIRE. Each crew member gets a POV and each has their own unique voice. While certain characters fulfill certain tropes and archetypes, they’re so fleshed out and feel as if they could step off the page at any moment. There’s not a single weak link in the crew, they all feel like people rather than just characters. Yes, even the hot space elf. There’s also a diversity of sexualities, races, and abilities thus far, with more to be revealed as we get further into the series.
(PS: not to be dramatic but I’d take a bullet for my disaster children, Finian and Kal)
My only criticism is that a few points of the story rely on a certain element of convenience. I don’t think the average teen will be put off by it, but as an eagle-eyed critical adult reader, I thought these particular scenes could’ve used a little finessing.
Overall, holy hell this is an incredible epic YA sci-fi and it fulfilled every hope I had for the book. I laughed, I cried, and I WAS STRESSED AS HELL. This is the book my Firefly and Battlestar Galactica-obsessed teenage self needed, and I’m so glad I got it ten years later. ;____;
Representation: POC MCs (human and non-human), autism spectrum MC (unconfirmed), bisexual/pansexual MC, physical disability