book reviews, book talk, spoiler free

Aurora Rising

auroraAurora Rising by Amy Kauffman and Jay Kristoff

Rating: XXXXX

Published: May 7th 2019 by Rock the Boat

“Squad 312. This pack of losers and discapline cases and sociopaths, these misfits that nobody in the whole of Aurora Academy wanted to get paired with.”

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.

Nobody panic.  

So if you’ve been reading my blog at all for the past year you’ll already be very well acquainted with this book and just how beyond excited I’ve been for its release. If you’re new here, welcome! Amie and Jay, the authors of Aurora Rising wrote a series of books called The Illuminae Files which are my favourite series of books, at the end of the last one they teased a new series of books in space with hot space elves. I have been excited ever since. We got a title, we got more details and we got art for each of the Squad members and Aurora herself and I have just been getting more and more excited. This is my most anticipated book release this year and I was lucky enough to get to read one of these gorgeous arc copies!

I went into this book rather unsure of how to feel, the first time I held it and realised I was about to actually read this book that I’d been so excited for I realised I felt some hesitation. I wanted to love it just as much as the books of the Illuminae files series and I was worried that it might end up feeling too samey or that it would be so different I wouldn’t enjoy it, but I’m pleased to report I need not of worried. Aurora Rising absolutely holds its own, being written by Amie and Jay it still has that brilliant banter suffused with action and emotion that we see throughout their own books as well as the ones they’ve worked on together and thus it contains the same essence at its core that the Illuminae Files do while still being its own entity. Much like The Illuminae Files, Aurora Rising is also set in space but that my friends, is where the similarities end and we strap in for a whole different kind of ride.

Aurora Rising is told from seven different POV’s and that may sound like a lot but it’s done spectacularly and is, in my opinion, one of the many reasons it’s so very easy to absolutely fall head over heels in love with Squad 312. Each POV has its own distinct voice and quirks and I am still taken aback at just how easy it is to recognise each of them from that alone as I often have trouble keeping track of who’s who in books with even two or three POV’s on occasion so this was huge for me. The characters themselves are fantastic and not since the Mass Effect games have I felt such an attachment to fictional characters as I have to squad 312, my squad. Each character feels completely unique and detailed, full of habits and flaws,  intriguing backstory and overflowing with their individual personalities so vibrant and rich that honestly, I could talk about them all day.

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Tyler Jones: Alpha – All round golden boy, goodie two shoes, wielder of dimples, squad leader and Captain hotness. Tyler goes through some stuff, as do the rest of the crew but I loved how he changed and moulded with the circumstances as they occurred. A brilliant leader and certainly one I would follow. 

Scarlett Jones: Face – The cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm, Tyler’s slightly more charismatic, sweet talking, red-headed twin sister. Older twin sister don’t you forget!  Scarlett is an absolute queen and really holds the whole team together. She knows when to flash a smile, a simple nod or a kind word which isn’t unusual perhaps for a face, those who are considered the peacemakers and fast talkers of the Aurora Legion but Scarlett really has an innate gift for it. Not to mention she’s sassy, confident and is well aware of how hot she is.

Zila Madran: Brain – A sociopath scientist with a fondness for her disrupter and shooting her bunkmates. Zila is cool, calculating and doesn’t mince her words, she’s no-nonsense, smart as hell and absolutely brilliant. Like Tyler, Zila had a brilliant character arc that you can really see change as time goes on, her particular quirks were especially interesting and I just loved her so much.

Finian de Karren de Seel: Gearhead – A smart ass techwizz with the galaxies biggest chip on his shoulder. Fin is a member of a pale-skinned humanoid species called the Betraskan who have to wear dark contacts above ground to protect their eyes. Fin is fantastic, he’s incredibly funny, witty and clever, he’s bi/pansexual and disabled, needing to wear an exo-suit to help with his mobility which I think was done particularly well in that it was something that was just accepted and no one tried to ‘fix him’ but he also had realistic limits. I would almost certainly die for him.

Kallis Gilwraeth: Tank – Kal is a hot, angsty space elf known as a Syldrathi, some say he has anger management issues but as the team’s tank, responsible for all things fighty this might be a good thing? Right?? Kal is utterly swoon-worthy, managing to be angry and hostile as well as the sweetest bean in the universe. I love him to pieces.

Catherine Brannock: Ace – Cat, also known at the Aurora Legion Academy as Zero, is fast flying, no crap taking, tattooed, hot-headed and absolutely not into Tyler. Cat was a hard character at times, occasionally repetitive and the one I felt least invested in for quite a while which I think may have actually been on purpose, to be honest. She pulls some damn punches throughout the story though that really gave her an extra dimension and really endeared her to me.

Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley: Girl out of time – Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries Aurora feels not only out of her time but out of her depth as well, as one might when you awaken to find everyone you ever knew has almost certainly died over a hundred years ago. I found Aurora one the harder characters to get into, not so much as Cat who I initially didn’t like and although this wasn’t the exact case with Aurora who I did like from the get-go, it just took me a lot longer to click with her like I did all of the others. I think this has more to do with Aurora trying to find herself, which isn’t a bad thing, it just meant it took me a while to find her as well which I think, especially if intentional was an extra fantastic layer to her character.

Everyone changes throughout the story and watching everyone adapt is fantastic, you really get to know someone when you see how they make decisions in tough moments and Aurora Rising is no different despite being a work of fiction. It makes me so happy to see such diversity throughout the Squad too, I loved this book to pieces and I’ll get into the rest of it but my favourite part is definitely these band of misfits.

I briefly want to mention the romance elements to this book, I won’t go into huge detail because of spoilers and this review is getting to already be huge but I wanted to put a mention in any way. Romance isn’t a huge thing in Aurora Rising but it is present, there is a ton of cute flirty language and moments which I love and there are some emotions flying around as there often is in YA novels. There is some tension that I found a little annoying at times but found easy to get over but there is also a whole other kettle of fish going on that I found absolutely fantastic and I’m not always that into the romance side of things. I’ll go into more depth when I hopefully film my spoiler-filled book talk in the next couple of days but I just want to say there are some real, pure good moments that melted even my little cold black heart.

There’s not an enormous amount of world-building here but as it is some large amount of time in the future we do get a bit of an update on what he missed thanks to Aurora needing the information, it coming up in general conversation and some handy info pages before each chapter which all felt super organic and natural instead of an overload of info which I feel can sometimes happen in sci-fi. We didn’t have to go into huge amounts of detail for any of the future tech as most of it such as artificial gravity, mag-boots the uniglass systems the team uses etc are all pretty self-explanatory and make sense at a pretty simple level meaning I don’t need to try and wrap my head around crazy new technology to understand a scene, always a bonus.

I found the plot a little slow going at times but not hugely so although there are moments when there is little to no exact direction which again, I feel is on purpose and fits with the mood of the story at the time but it irked the ‘must have a plan for everything’ part of me, I’m not a great risk taker and certainly not good with leaps of faith but that’s more of a personal issue and no real mark against the plot itself. I liked how it all came together over time and that we had a lot of different aspects throughout, we got space fights, we got a crazy heist, bar fights, creepy beyond belief aliens, an entire space station that is basically a jacked up Mos Eisley, crazy awesome mind powers and so much more. For me, this book has.it.all.

Aurora Rising is a brilliant mish-mash of The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy (as claimed by Jay Kristoff himself) but also has (for me at least) huge Mass Effect undertones which has firmly placed this in my favourite book category.

This book is out for general release May 7th (TOMORROW!) and I honestly cannot recommend it higher. If you’re still not sure  you can check out the first chapter and a clip of the audiobook (with a fantastic cast!) right here now and take the Aurora Legion Academy test here to see which role you would play in your own squad, I’m an Alpha like Tyler which makes sense as I over plan, am a bit of a stickler for rules and am far too bossy for my own good. Let me know which you end up as?

 

 

 

 

 

#SixforSunday

#S4S – Favourite LGBT Reads

Happy Six for Sunday! This weeks prompt from the wonderful Steph over at A little but a lot is Favourite LGBT reads and I’m ashamed that despite being a member of the LGBT community myself I’ve read precious few LGBT books myself. It doesn’t seem to be something that’s focused on much in fantasy which is one of the two main genres I read, Science Fiction is a little better but I’m not sure I can think of many books that I’ve read that would be considered “LGBT” books so I’ll do my best to list the ones I would consider to feature LGBT elements in them. Feel free to reccomend all the good Fantasy and Sci-Fi LGBTQ+ books though, especially f/f or bi/pan/poly rep.

Just another note actually before we begin, a thought perhaps but what do you consider an “LGBT” read? Although they are important for those who need them I am often not at all interested in stories where characters “queereness” is the be all and end all of the story. As I’ve said those kind of books do need to exist because there are people out there who they will help and that will find themselves in those books but I really prefer the books where there are characters who are LGBTQ plus but it’s a normal natural thing and is not a pivotal plot point, obviously this is only personal opinion and everyone enjoys different kinds of books but I wanted to make that clear that is one of the reasons my list of “LGBT” reads probably aren’t considered as such because the sexuality of the characters aren’t the only plot point and I don’t want to diminish others love for books where that is the case at all but rather just wanted to explain my choices.

1. The Last Begining by Lauren James
This time bending book feautures Clove and her sometimes girlfriend Ella and was one of my favourite reads last year, I can’t say too much about why I love their relationship throughout this book without giving away spoilers but lets just say

2. Jem and the Holgrams by Kelly Thompson
I was a big fan of the Jem and the Holograms TV show when I was younger (showing my age!) and became a little obsessed with it. I was so excited to find out it was being made into a comic (we don’t talk about the “film”). The artwork is bold , beautiful and full of colour and the story is compelling and very much in the feel of the original show while still feeling updated and I’m gutted that it wasn’t a show instead but I’ve still loved every minute of it. Among some of the new changes I’ve enjoyed is the relationship between Kimber and Stormer, a star-crossed lovers tale with each being from rival bands. They are an absolutely adorable couple who adore each other but find it hard to be together with the tensions building between the two groups. They are easily one of my favourite couples in fiction.

3. The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare
I feel like this one may be a little controversial somehow, purely because despite the relationship between Alec and Magnus Bane being one that really touched people, a lot of others feel it’s “over done” now somehow and that Cassie is just “milking it” to get positive attention. That’s not how I feel personally, although Alec and Magnus is a great step forward, especially at a time where same sex relationships were not often featured in YA for me I loved the fact that Magnus Bane was (at least) bisexual and this really helped me at a time where I was confused that I liked girls but I couldn’t be gay because I liked boys as well. Magnus sort of became a window to realising I didn’t have to be gay or straight as it wasn’t something I had ever really known or talked about. Now in the Dark Artifices we have all sort s of characters and relationships including trans and poly which I think have been done well and really appreciate seeing normalised in fiction.

4. Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Betty the smidgen is pretty much my favourite member of the Rat Queens (although I do love them all) and as with most of these on my list I love how easy and seamlessly her sexuality is introduced and plays out in these books. It’s very simple and sweet with just the right amount of fluff for my tastes.

5. Vicious and Vengeful by V.E Schwab
This might sound like a strange one but I was convinced during Vicious that Victor and Eli were besotted with each other even if they wouldn’t act on it or show it. The way Eli became obsessed with hunting down Victor just really seemed to have this…edge to it. In Vengeful it became apparent and although not done as smoothly as it could have been done, it was canonical acknowledged that Victor was Asexual (ace) and this felt like it made so much sense to me.

6. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
By the looks of this list I read and enjoy a lot more LGBT comics than I do traditional books. Nimona is probably my absolute favourite on this list for many many reasons but one of them is the way it handles LGBT relationships so well. We often see LGBT couples possibly going through some kind of hardship and then they get back together and they live happily ever after. In Nimona we. See a huge variety of couples, some who are very happy together but also those who fight, or break up or flirt or just want something casual or different and I think thats another really important angle that needs to be shown as well. This book is absolutely a must read. Its a masterpiece.

Thank you for checking out my six for Sunday post! I think this may have inspired me to do a longer post. On a similar subject so keep an eye out for that coming soon! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week and don’t forget to let me know if you’ve taken part in todays prompt as well so I can check it out!

P.S Wanted to give an honourable mention to Carry On! I haven’t finished it yet but I feel like if I had it probably would have made this list.