Title: Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Published: April 2020
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
I received a copy of Aurora Burning from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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.
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.
Aurora Burning is the second book in The Aurora Cycle, a young adult science-fiction series co-written by Aussie powerhouse writers, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I don’t say that lightly – these two are dynamite together, and write my favourite YA sci-fi books (and I am notoriously picky about YA sci-fi).
Being the second book it’s very difficult to talk about the plot without spoiling the events of the first books, Aurora Rising, because we pick up right where we left off. Our intrepid Squad 312 heroes are well and truly in trouble when they’re implicated in a situation not of their making, and targets are painted on their back. They’re adventures take them across space, on the lookout for safe passage and answers to a whole host of questions that have popped up in book one and in book two. They’re trying to stop an ancient evil from spreading across the entire galaxy (and look good while doing it?) while trying to avoid capture from their enemies… and a few erstwhile family members, too.
The easiest thing to compliment about Aurora Burning is the cast of characters. Each member of Squad 312 is a delight to read about. They each have their own personalities, from steadfast and earnest to deeply irreverent and I am here for all of them. (But mostly Finian, but he’s absolutely precious, just saying.) Each member of the squad is dealing with the fallout from the first book in their own way, alternating between grief and disbelief, while trying to stay alive. In Aurora Burning, we get to spend a bit more time in the POV of all the characters, but it was very nice to have a bit more time in the heads of Kal and Zila, who didn’t get as much airtime in the first book. With a large cast of POV characters, it’s always hard to give equal time to each character and while I wish some characters did get a bit more time, it definitely felt more balanced this time around. It was also nice to get a bit more backstory into the characters, especially Tyler and Scarlett’s parents, and Kal’s family, both of which are important to what happens in the second half of the book.
With everything that’s happened, all of the relationship dynamics between characters have shifted slightly, and that is also a huge factor in this book. From family and friendships to romantic entanglements, there’s really something for everyone. Mostly, I appreciated seeing how everyone had to learn to work with people they might not normally have worked as well with. Partnerships are constantly being challenged and switched up and that made for a very interesting read, as well as some great character development.
I loved each and every action sequence, and boy, was there plenty. This is an epic space opera that has spaceship incursions, dogfights in space and enemies around every corner. There’s even a training montage sequence thrown in there for good measure, so we’re hitting on all the good YA tropes. It was fast-paced, easy to follow, and deeply engaging.
All that said, this book does leave off on a cliff-hanger and normally that would cause certain problems for me, however Amie and Jay pulled this one off beautifully. The final chapter is written in such a way that we know what’s happening with each POV character right until the end and there was a certain, frantic quality to it that left me reeling and, now, desperate to know what happens next.
If you haven’t picked up The Aurora Cycle yet, I encourage you to. It’s a delightfully fun read with characters who you’ll fall in love with.