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.
First off, going into Aurora Rising was actually a bit of a worry for me, I worried over the hype, I worried about not liking a book that so many others loved, I worried that as I hadn’t read Illuminae I would somehow not be as in tune with the story. But all those worries needn’t have mattered as, I’m jumping well and truly on the bandwagon and shouting about how much I loved this book!
Where do I start? The characters, the banter, the immeasurable amount of 90’s pop culture references? I think I’ll start there. As a maturer reader of YA it’s always nice to remember that in fact, a lot of YA writers are around my age – I enjoyed that lots of the little nuggets around the story are from from films and tv shows that I grew up with and made me feel that the authors acknowledge that the book would have a varied age range of readers. From “five by five” to “would you like to know more?” each one brought an excited little fan girl squeal, and the Hitchhikers Guide style chapter breaks were a brilliant touch.
The characters are my perfect band of misunderstood misfits, each one bringing their own unique style to the story and a little something that will hopefully feel inclusive to every reader. With squad goals to rival my beloved Rampion Crew, they very nearly toppled them from the top spot; nearly… I immediately identified with Zila, although her chapters are short, her ability to sum things up perfectly in just a few lines is perfect, and her illogical logic always made me smile. Fin is hilarious in an inappropriate way, his jokes being his figurative armour to distract from his literal exosuit, Kal will satisfy any fae based cravings, and Tyler, Cat and Scarlett bring the human balance to the team. Even though they’re great and they know it, they are written in such a wonderful way that it never comes across as conceited. I have to say that Aurora was kind of the weak link in squad 312 for me, I would have loved to seen a bit more depth around her as the gravity of her situation never really got a chance to settle, I guess I found her a little too quick to be fine with everything, which is a teeny tiny gripe, I know.
That brings me to the banter, it’s a clear testament to the authors friendship that the banter flows so freely and with such understanding, there is little in the way of awkward misinterpretation and I bet the authors had so much fun with it! It’s a constant back and forth, with rarely a serious conversation to be had. It really reminded me of the crew of the Serenity and the friendships in Starship Troopers in that even when everything is going to hell, friendships bring focus and the trust between them is pretty special.
Which brings me finally round to the story, I have to admit that Aurora Rising was a 100% hype buy and I went in knowing zero about it, but I found myself surprisingly easily captivated by the story, it had a little bit of everything with the crew running for their lives, crazy aliens, conspiracy coverups, a bit of a heist (my personal favourite) and snarky electronic devices. There was so much crammed into the pages and pacing was pretty full on at times. Honestly it brought out all the feels and I did shed a little tear (which is a real rarity) as I didn’t think that that would happen. It left on a high though and I have to admit that I’m a little in love with squad 312 and I can’t wait to continue reading about their adventures!