Cliffhangers and Book Hangovers: My Aurora Burning Review

Oh, hi. Don’t mind me, I’m just lying in a useless puddle of my own tears on the floor because I finished Aurora Burning and everything inside me is broken :)

*Heaves myself up to a sitting position* Okay, here's how it went down. I'd been lying in wait for the second volume in the Aurora Cycle ever since the first book knocked my socks off last year, so you bet your books I preordered the heck out of that bad boy. The story I encountered within ensured that, always and forevermore, I am but a slave to the almighty Kristoff and Kaufman. I will now attempt to explain why without sounding wildly incoherent.

Book Title: Aurora Burning
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Publisher/Year: Knopf, 2020
Genre: Science Fiction
Number of Pages (According to Goodreads): 512
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Book description (from Goodreads):
Our heroes are back… kind of. From the bestselling co-authors of the Illuminae Files comes the second book in the epic series about a squad of misfits, losers, and discipline cases who just might be the galaxy’s best hope for survival.
First, the bad news: an ancient evil—you know, your standard consume-all-life-in-the-galaxy deal—is about to be unleashed. The good news? Squad 312 is standing by to save the day. They’ve just got to take care of a few small distractions first.
Like the clan of gremps who’d like to rearrange their favorite faces.
And the cadre of illegit GIA agents with creepy flowers where their eyes used to be, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on Auri.
Then there’s Kal’s long-lost sister, who’s not exactly happy to see her baby brother, and has a Syldrathi army at her back. With half the known galaxy on their tails, Squad 312 has never felt so wanted.
When they learn the Hadfield has been found, it’s time to come out of hiding. Two centuries ago, the colony ship vanished, leaving Auri as its sole survivor. Now, its black box might be what saves them. But time is short, and if Auri can’t learn to master her powers as a Trigger, the squad and all their admirers are going to be deader than the Great Ultrasaur of Abraaxis IV.
Shocking revelations, bank heists, mysterious gifts, inappropriately tight bodysuits, and an epic firefight will determine the fate of the Aurora Legion’s most unforgettable heroes—and maybe the rest of the galaxy as well.

NOTE: I will be avoiding spoilers for both Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning, so please forgive me if some of my comments are a little vague.

My overall impression is that this book might even be better than the first one -- and that's saying something, cause the first book was *chef's kiss*. This isn't the first time Kristoff and Kaufman have created an amazing sequel; Gemina, the second book in their Illuminae Files trilogy, was also mind-blowingly good. I'm just amazed that they managed to do it twice in a row, which makes me wonder what demon they sacrificed their souls to in exchange for that ability.

So, here are some things that were awesome!

I'm steering clear of spoilers, but suffice to say, I loved the action and the rollercoaster of plot twists in Aurora Burning. Several of the reveals made me gasp out loud, and I can't wait to see how the ramifications of said reveals play out in the next installment! I ate up the mystery-type storyline weaving its way throughout — I sense some kind of time-travel shenanigans, but it wasn’t resolved by the end, so I guess I’ll have to wait for the third book to find out what’s going on there.

It can be hard to create satisfying character arcs for an ensemble cast, but goshdarnit, these guys did a great job. From Tyler's guilt to Aurora's self-discovery to Zila learning to open up to her friends, each one of the viewpoint characters had an internal journey that built on where they ended up after the first book. I'm not saying the authors definitely sold their souls to pull this off, but it's one of the more likely explanations, is all I'm saying.

But ... here's what I didn't like :/

Alas, even the most sparkling gems can have flaws. There was one occurrence toward the end of the book where one of the characters revealed something that made the other members of Squad 312 really angry at them, causing them to get kicked out of the club. Personally, I didn’t buy it. Since these guys have been through so much together, I’d expect them to be more forgiving of something outside of said character’s control, and it came across as a blatant attempt to separate the squad for plot reasons. However, it’s a relatively small quibble, so I’ll let it slide. Maybe that's the demon pact at work again, I don't know.

Okay, we gotta talk about the ending

You guys. THE ENDING. Since I am resolutely avoiding spoilers, allow me to rant incoherently for a moment. CAT. AURI. KAL. THE CRYSTAL. THE WEAPON. AHHHHHHHHHHHSDFGHJKL ...

Yeah, so the ending is a huge cliffhanger. As in, a lots-of-people-are-about-to-die-in-the-next-few-seconds cliffhanger. Normally I’d be annoyed about that, but hey, it’s the end of the second book and I've read plenty of second books which did something similar. I’m so relieved there’s another book to come in which everything will be fixed. Or, you know, ruined some more. It’s gonna be a long wait for the finale.

Here, take your five stars, Kristoff and Kaufman. Then go write a happy ending STAT. *curls up and begins sobbing again*

Have you read Aurora Burning? Is it on your TBR? Share in the comments!

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