A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Aurora Rising is the second series collaboration between Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, the friends and co-authors behind The Illuminae Files. Like their first trilogy, The Aurora Cycle is part futuristic space adventure, part character study with some romance and killer alien beings thrown into the mix. A page-turning thriller that's likely to make readers want to binge-read, this best-selling novel will appeal not only to the authors' considerable fan base but also to readers who enjoy stories about motley crews forced to work together, like Firefly and Six of Crows. The language is stronger in some characters' points of view than others, but it's not frequent ("s--t," "arse," and an infrequent "f--k"), and the sex is limited to flashbacks to two characters' important hookup and other characters' more comical recollections of dates. The violence, both widespread and personal, can occasionally be intense, bloody, and heartbreaking. This series starter explores courage, teamwork, and perseverance.
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What's the story?
AURORA RISING is the first book in the second futuristic sci-fi trilogy by best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. The duo behind the Illuminae Files trilogy is back with another series set in space, centering on a misfit Aurora Legion Squad (think intergalactic UN Peacekeepers of the far future). "Alpha" (squad captain) Tyler Jones is the golden boy of his graduating Aurora Academy class, but he misses the Draft to make the first picks of his crew because he answers a distress call from a famously missing Terran spaceship and saves the sole survivor on the spacecraft, Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, who wakes up from her cryogenic sleep to realize she's 200 years in the future. Tyler ends up with a crew that includes his twin sister Scarlett (diplomat/"Face") and their best friend Cat (pilot/"Ace"), who waited to be on Tyler's team, but then three bottom picks: disciplinary problem and probable sociopath Zila (science officer/"Brain"), and two different aliens -- Finian (tech officer/"Gearhead"), and Kal (combat officer/"Tank"). When the unlikely team goes on their first assignment -- an easy resupply mission -- they discover Auri has stowed on their ship. Once she's discovered, chaos ensues as the Terran Defense Forces seem to want to Auri for themselves, and it's clear there's much more to her than even she realizes.
Is it any good?
Kaufman and Kristoff's addictive multi-POV space adventure is utterly unputdownable and will leave readers counting the days until the second installment is released. These two authors know what they're doing when it comes to sci-fi dramas, and they set up the various characters and circumstances with an ease that immediately draws readers into their world. The crew is full of relatable types, but each one of them also transcends and subverts the predictable. Just when readers think they know what's going on, which characters will fall for each other, where the story is going, Kaufman and Kristoff pull the proverbial rug. This can lead to significant feels.
Although the plot is propulsive -- the crew predictably goes rogue in order to save Auri and becomes basically all of space's Most Wanted -- the characterization is well done. That being said, seven points of view can be difficult to follow (it's easier via audiobook, because a full cast narrates the ensemble), and some characters feel more fully developed than others. Still, all get a moment to shine. The two aliens are particularly compelling: Fin is snarky, bisexual, wears an exosuit to compensate for physical disabilities, and comes from a species with a fascinating and large family structure. Kal is from an alien warrior species known for their bloodlust. But the humans, led by Tyler, are also complicated and layered. The next book promises more adventure but also has a lot of questions to answer and hearts to heal.
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 book compare with The Illuminae Files? What's similar? What's different? If you haven't read that trilogy, do you want to now?
What do you think about the big character twists in this story? Which ones were most surprising? Do you think that one character is gone for good? Why it is it so heartbreaking when a major character dies in a series?
What are some other popular books and movies about misfits who band together? What makes motley crews such a tried and true plot convention?
- Authors: Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: May 7, 2019
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 473
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 17, 2020
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