Title: Aurora Rising

Author: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Series: The Aurora Cycle #1

Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult

Published: May 7th 2019 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Rating: 3/5 stars ★★★


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.


3 of 5 stars to Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff


Zila – Tyler – Scarlett – Auri – Kal – Cat – Finian (collectively known as Squad 312)

(I prepared a special something at the end of this review. I made character aesthetics for every member of Squad 312!!! This is a long review so keep scrolling or you can just skip right to it LOL)

Aurora Rising is as exciting as they come but unfortunately, not all that original. It’s main selling point is its fast-paced development so reading is never a chore even though you’ve read/seen most of it before.

The first part was a solid 5—action packed chapters intermingled with intriguing and mysterious characters. The next two parts after that though is where it goes downhill.

I think the reason why this was only a 3 star read from me was because I expected too much from the authors, Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, whose last series together (The Illuminae Files) I am such a huge fan of. I know and love them for their originality in The Illuminae Files (books 1 and 2 specifically) so it boggles me why Aurora Rising failed to deliver.

Below are a list of what I find unoriginal in the story:

1. Characters

Props for diversity but it feels like some of them are a copy of Six of Crows gang but slightly better written.

Kal as Matthias. Both brooding fiercesome warriors torn between duty or love.

Scar as Nina. Beautiful, curvy women who sometimes use their looks and appeal as leverage.

Cat as Inej. Trusty “second” of their leaders that they are in love with. Now that I think about it, their plots are also the same. (Warning: Spoiler). At the end of Six of Crows book, Inej gets kidnapped which makes Kaz finally acknowledge his feelings for her. Same thing happens to Tyler and Cat. Cat is hurt towards the end of the book, gets consumed by a virus that makes her lose herself and only then does Tyler confess his love for her.

Wylan and Jesper as Finian. Gay geniuses with disabilities. (I know it hasn’t been acknowledged but there are hints about Finian’s bisexuality).

2. Aurora’s “abilities”

Lilac Laroux 2.0 anyone? Amie Kaufman is co-author of The Starbound Trilogy so I guess it’s no surprise. For reference, you can check out These Broken Stars and Their Fractured Light where Lilac displays the same abilities.

3. The Ancient Ones/Eshvaren

Related to #2 above, The Ancient Ones are the reason for Aurora’s abilities. The same concept can be found in These Broken Stars and Their Fractured Light. Lilac’s powers come from similar beings believed to be the first living kind in the universe and they call them, “whispers”. The Eshvaren and the “whispers” also happen to talk the same. “We” being the pronoun they use.

4. Virus ala Annihilation

The description of how this virus affects living things reminds me so much of Annihilation movie. Turns out the movie is also based from the book of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. For reference, below is Annihilation’s Trailer and here is a synopsis of Annihilation book.

Aside from these ‘unoriginal’ elements, I also didn’t like the pairings (LOL). Petty I know, but I just want to be honest. (If you want to know, I wanted Auri x Tyler; Scarlett x Kal; and maybe Zila x Fin). Anyway, my favorite characters are Zila and Scarlett. I love how smart and practical Zila is and how sharp Scarlett is. Best girls!

Cat annoyed me a little. I sometimes find her unrequited love monologues to be pathetic. I was actually glad she “died” at the end though I’m 100% sure she’s not dead, dead. She’ll make a comeback for sure ala Lilac Laroux where she is one with the beings that possessed her but will be able to control them eventually. Speaking plainly, she’ll gain powers (but not before she becomes an antagonist for a while – gotta add some drama after all).

Tyler, Auri, Kal, and Finian are likeable in general. Meanwhile, I was indifferent to Auri and Kal’s romantic plot at first but towards the end, I found them cute.

Further explanation of my rating:

Part 1 – 5 stars. It’s interesting getting to know the gang. Lots of excitement.

Part 2 – 3 stars. More excitement as mysteries start to unravel particularly Aurora’s abilities but slowly the characters remind me of Six of Crows gang.

Part 3 – 3 stars. Still exciting but twists are predictable (example: Cat’s fake betrayal) and as previously mentioned, the plots are nothing new (example: the “Annihilation” virus).

Good writing really made a world of difference for this book. There are a lot of unoriginal concepts but it didn’t really matter much to me because the events are always exciting.

However, you can say I’m still disappointed. Illuminae Series was a TOP favorite so naturally, I was very excited for Amie and Jay to collaborate again. I thought I’d fall in love with Aurora Rising but it turned out, it wouldn’t be a great experience after all.


In this section, you will see the character aesthetics or moodboard I made for each member of the #Squad312 plus a bit of imagined casting (what they will look like as actual people in place of the illustrations we were given).

Meet the members of Squad 312!


Meet your Alpha, Tyler Jones. Killer dimples. Boots so shiny you can see your face in them. And bone-headed heroism that sticks him with the squad of misfits and losers that nobody else wanted.


Meet your Face, Scarlett Jones. Team diplomat with a black belt in Scarcasm (see what we did there?), she’s razor sharp, with a huge heart she’d rather you didn’t know about.


Meet Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley. She’s about to awaken from a 200 year cryo-sleep, fall in with the losers, reprobates and misfits of #Squad312, and discover she might be the key to winning a war one million years in the making.

Nobody panic.


Meet Kal Gilwraeth! Kal is Syldrathi—an alien race whose arrogance is legendary. Our boy here is no exception, and you’d normally just wanna punch his lights out, except:

a) he could kill you with his little finger

b) dem cheekbones


Meet Zila Madran, science officer for #squad312. She’s quiet, detached, cute as a tiny psychopathic button and has earned thirty-two official reprimands at Aurora Academy in the last two years. She’s smart, no doubt. But most sociopaths have scary high IQs.

Just saying.


Meet Finian de Seel, gearhead and mechanical genius. He can MacGyver just about anything, and he’s famous for irradiating the academy’s propulsion labs to get out of his spatial dynamics exam.

Full disclosure: he’s also kiiiiiiind of an asshole.


Meet Catherine “Cat” Brannock, our badass pilot with no time for your crap. Cat should’ve landed a sweet gig after graduation, but when her old bud Tyler Jones gets stuck with the losers of Squad 312, she’s right beside him.

(She’s totes not into him btw.)

In case you are wondering why they are called “Squad 312”, Jay Kristoff mentioned on Twitter that it symbolizes the date (March 2012) of when he and Amie Kaufman first met. Also, the character descriptions above are taken from Jay Kristoff’s tweets.

I hope you like the aesthetics I made. It took me two days to finish (12 hours to be accurate including research for photos) so it’s a product of hard labor and love (haha).

As always, have a great day and happy reading!

**photos used in moodboard/collage are not mine; credit to owners