“Aurora Rising” book review


Yness Martinez

‘Aurora Rising’ was published in 2019

Yness Martinez, Staff Reporter

Aurora Rising was published in 2019 by co-authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. It’s the first in it’s ongoing series. 

Straight-A student Tyler Jones gets stuck with an unlikely crew after saving Aurora O’Malley, a passenger thought to be lost on a colony spaceship 200 years ago. A girl out of time, and maybe even out of her mind, might be the key to solving the mystery behind the Octavia mission–a planet colony covered up by the government, and Aurora’s original destination. With twists and turns, new species, and bountiful sarcasm, Kaufman and Kristoff make this an enjoyable ride in a new world.

As far as dystopian novels go, the world building in this novel wasn’t unbearable. However, I did keep a running tally of made up words used–a shocking total of twelve. A typical world building process for a sci-fi novel can be up to ten chapters, but not Aurora Rising. It was very, “You’re on your own” when it came to figuring out what things looked like; and that can be a good thing or a bad thing. “What does an ‘exo suit’ look like?” you may ask. Well, to me it was some sort of clear, ah, thing? 

The good thing about this was that we didn’t have to dwell on the specifics because of the heavy focus on the 200-year-old 17-year-old. While the book might have her name on it, Aurora Rising was not all about Aurora. Each chapter was a different perspective from Tyler’s crew, meaning it held so many variations in character. 

There was so much diversity in the book: in personality, gender, and sexuality. At one point I wasn’t sure if there was just a normal love triangle, or a love hexagon. It indirectly conveyed the wrong assumptions we make about others’ sexuality in an exemplary way.

Now for the best part, the crazy scientist and antisocial icon, Zila. Zila is the epitome of all semi-psychotic homebodys out there. As I said, each chapter was through the eyes of the different crewmates, including Zila. Typically, her chapters were so bizarre and short I actually laughed. There was one that was only two sentences long. She is my absolute favorite character for: No. 1, being a genius. No. 2, not putting up with anything. 

This being the second win for my Kaufman reads, I’ve decided to add the rest of her works to my reading list. She seems to carry a similar theme of ‘spooky space’ in many of her books, and it will be interesting to see how she expands on that theme. 

I’d recommend this read to any sci-fi fan. It’s got heists, it’s got plot twists, it’s got random Tolkien references, it’s got bizarre technology, and it’s got strange sentient beings. You can read Aurora Rising on the school’s online and in-person library.