Aurora Burning: The Aurora Cycle, Book 2

Book review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Aurora Burning: The Aurora Cycle, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Riveting, twisty sequel brings more thrills, violence.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book series is set in the far-off future and about fictional creatures, so the educational value is in learning about second books, how they move plot lines forward, why cliffhangers are a way to keep readers hooked, and how very different characters can work together for the greater good.

Positive Messages

Kaufman and Kristoff's books always promote teamwork, inclusivity and acceptance, diversity of thought, and forgiveness and redemption. Friendship, trust, and love compel the characters to act courageously and make sacrifices. The story also encourages people to look beyond stereotypes and differences and really see, listen, and communicate with others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lots of representation and positive character strengths among the main characters. Tyler continues to be a brave, charismatic, and visionary strategist and leader, but he's also more vulnerable in this sequel. Scarlett is highly empathetic and a great communicator and learns to flex her leadership muscles; Aurora heeds the call to use her supernatural talents and abilities; Kal is fearless, loyal, and strong and grapples with his ability to kill so easily; Zila is observant and intelligent and neurodivergent; Finian is quick-witted, resourceful, loyal, and problem-solving. Together they demonstrate the importance of teamwork, and they are a multiracial and multispecies squad with different backgrounds (two are aliens, Auri is half-Chinese, half-White, and Zila is Black) and sexual orientations (Zila and Finian are LGBTQ).


Frequent and occasionally graphic violence includes torture, killing, beatings, hand-to-hand and space battle, as well as explosions. One character and his tribe are born with powerful bloodlust that can consume them. Lots of fistfights, weapons, and close calls between people and aliens. Once again, characters are gravely injured or presumed dead. 


Scarlett recalls her dozens of former boyfriends (she numbers them and discusses their physical and romantic attributes). Two characters flirt, hold hands, and are obviously attracted to each other and nearly kiss. An established couple kiss and make love, but the scenes focus on the kissing and then "fade to black." Two characters can communicate telepathically and are attracted to each other but try to suppress it.


One character uses fake curses like "mother custard!" and "maker's breath," as well as stronger curse words like "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "a--hole," "arse," "son of a bitch," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A scene of older teen characters drinking at a pub (but it's unclear if this is considered underage in the distant future). A particular repeated memory includes the characters drinking. Discussion of a drug with specific side effects.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Aurora Burning is the sequel to Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's best-selling series starter, Aurora Rising, about a ragtag group of interspecies space cadets forced to save the universe from an encroaching and ancient evil that can destroy every living thing. This second page-turning installment continues to thrill, surprise, and even infuriate, but in that good, momentarily heart-stopping cliffhangers and plot twists kind of way. The language is as strong as it was in the first book, being more prominent in some characters' points of view than others ("s--t," "arse," and infrequent "f--k"). The sex and romance is more relevant, as two characters go from kissing to sex, although it's never explicitly described. The violence, on the other hand, is candidly and realistically depicted, with intense, bloody, and fatal results. This follow-up, like all of the authors' books, explores courage, teamwork, perseverance, and redemption.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGreatparentreader September 9, 2020


I just finished this book 2 days ago, it is amazing, I think middle schoolers would really enjoy this it is so good there is not that much violence to get upset... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byOrangeGalaxy August 2, 2020

Astoundingly Terrific, but for those a bit older

I love love loooove this book. It has everything. Humour, action, and all the feels. These two authors are breathtaking, but there are a few things to look out... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMJ33 March 4, 2021
Aurora Burning is the second book in a planned trilogy. Its a sci-fi adventure staring a group of teenagers who are trying to save the universe. The book brings... Continue reading

What's the story?

Aurora Burning picks up a bit after the heartbreaking events at the end of Aurora Rising with the grieving and rogue squad on the run from pretty much every governing body in the universe. When Tyler's team encounters Kal's fellow War Breed Syldrathi -- the vicious and blood-thirsty warriors who now demand Kal's return to the tribe. Kal, however, refuses, because he's bonded to Aurora and wants to be by her side. With the War Breed adding to the growing number of hostiles hunting the squad, Aurora, Fin, Kal, Scarlett, Tyler, and Zila  must continue to work together (and occasionally apart), hone their skills, and find a way to unlock Aurora's supernatural skills to defeat the ancient terror that killed Cat and that's soon to be unleashed on the world.

Is it any good?

Another riveting space opera from Kaufman and Kristoff, who've combined greater exposition, poignant romance, and even more pulse-popping, high-stakes adventure for a memorable sequel. The Aurora squad is definitely not okay after the heartbreaking events at the end of the first book, and the dead character is mentioned and thought of in a believable manner, since the crew is newly grieving her loss. Some sci-fi/fantasies gloss over the many deaths, even of important characters, but not these co-authors, who've made sure every single surviving character really thinks about the lost person. The story, while overall a riveting read, slows a tad in the second act, particularly when Aurora begins supernatural training to harness her powers. On the flip side, the final epic showdown is almost rushed by comparison, ending with a monumental cliffhanger that's sure to make some fans throw the book.

What makes these authors' books so easy to cherish is their ability to bring the best of their writing strengths together: layered and nuanced characterization, intricate plotting with plenty of twists, expressive, realistic, humorous dialog, and both slow-burning *and* fast-moving romantic relationships. There's also an impressive and seamlessly integrated diversity in this book. The main characters are different colors, backgrounds, sexual identities and orientations, and species, and they each come to terms with biases and stereotypes they held about the others in the group. Even though parts of the book are painful to read, there's joy, laughter, and love too -- they are one another's ride or dies (literally), and together they will defeat the spawning menace ready to infect all of the universe.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the amount of violence in Aurora Rising. Do you think it's necessary to the story? Is there a difference between reading about death and violence and seeing it on screen?

  • How does this installment compare with the original? Which new characters and storylines did you enjoy the most?

  • How does the book explore diversity in it various forms? Discuss how the characters, while different, can all join in a common purpose/

  • Discuss the cliffhanger and what you think about it. What do you hope will happen in the next book? Which characters do you hope will get/stay together?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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