“Who wants to be normal when you can be interesting instead?”
“In battle, everyone bleeds the same.”
Disclaimer: Nothing I write in this blog review will accurately convey how amazing this book series is. It is so epic that I honestly had trouble coming up with what to write since nothing feels adequate. How do you describe your ideal squad in one posting? This was the series I never knew I needed in my life. If you have not read it, allow me the chance to tell you why you need to read it.
The Aurora Cycle series at the moment consists of two books, Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning, with a third book on the way. The book takes place in the year 2380 in the earth’s milky way. In this year, humans have made exceptional advances in technology and even discovered various forms of alien life. We open to Tyler Jones, a star cadet in the Aurora Academy who has dreams of building the best squad the Legion has ever seen. He has trained his entire life and got the highest marks in his class, all while hoping to travel across the Galaxy for his people. However, hours before his graduation and squad pick, he gets a distress call from an unknown vessel. Being the heroic boy that he is, he finds and rescues a woman named Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley who has been cryo-sleeping for two centuries. While his action may be noble, he missed his graduation and the chance to create his own squad. Now, he is stuck with the leftovers that had no other place to go. The plot begins with this group of misfits meeting and taking on their first mission that goes so far off track, I’m uncertain if either of them will recall what it looks like.
My first thought when I heard about this book was “Oh no.” Hear me out! I enjoy the love people have for squad-type books, I do. However, I often find it hard to delve into a story when there are so many perspectives and often in different areas of the story. It was part of the reason I found it so hard to enjoy Six of Crows. This book gratefully does not have that issue for reading the different perspectives. While there are many in this book, they are all often in the same timeframe. The perspectives cohesively follow along with the story and it does not confuse me with different timelines and settings. It was very easy to read, and each of the characters felt unique. I can easily tell what perspective I’m reading without needing to see the names. That is something I’ll go into soon because it was spectacularly done.
Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley (The Girl Out Of Time):
What I love most about Auri, is that despite being two centuries older than her squad members, she quickly finds her voice amongst this rambunctious group of misfits. She is kind-hearted, shy at times, and entirely out of her element. However, she does not let that play against her. She often sticks with what her gut and mind tell her, even when those around her think she’s a “nut case”. She does not let negative opinions sway her beliefs and works hard to do the impossible. Aurora is fabulous, strong, independent, and caring. The growth she takes on in this series is so beautiful, but also tragic. You may not have much of an opinion of her at the start, but she soon becomes a cared-for character.
Tyler Jones (Golden Boy):
Ty is your typical high school star who is popular and great (or thinks he’s great) at just about everything he does. He is loyal and a leader to those in his squad. He doesn’t use any of his perfect qualities to put down others or deem himself better, as the norm usually goes. Instead, he inspires those around him and earns the respect and trust of many that he encounters. He always puts his squad first and risks his safety to ensure they all live another day. His growth while not on the same level as Auri’s is no less important. He grows into a person who learns that life is not always about what the rulebook says.
Kallis Idraban Gilwreath (The Outsider):
Kal has a distinctive personality compared to those in his squad. Not only is he of the elven race among numerous humans, but he also hoards several secrets to his heart. Throughout the series, he divulges some of those secrets to those he works with. It is always intriguing to see his shields crumble to make space for this new group of friends who invades his heart and mind. However, it is also mind-blowing to see the secrets revealed that not even we as readers knew. Because of these secrets, he often appears guarded. The change and growth in him almost, I said almost, rivals Aurora’s growth. That is all I can say without spoiling it.
Scarlett Jones (The Heartbreaker):
Scar, sister to Ty, is the perfect example of what I both love and hate in female characters. Let me explain. I love that she is confident, loyal, a fun character to read, and knows what she wants. However, I often felt like she has a bit of a one-note personality. While many of the characters grew in some form or another, she stayed the exact same way throughout both books. It’s not a horrible thing, but in a group of others with layers to their personality, she fell a little flat. There are moments where she shows another side to her personality that makes me soften at the heart, though it isn’t as often as desired. I don’t mind too much though, this series needs people like her to keep things upbeat! However, while she does often make jokes and flirty comments, she is intelligent. She knows what to say and how to say it. Her charisma and wit often help this group out of critical situations.
Finian De Karran De Seel (The Smartass):
Fin is absolutely my favorite character in this entire series. I don’t want to reveal my main reason for loving him, so instead I will just say that he is a very free person. He does not hold back and does not pause to worry about how others will judge him. He is brilliant, amusing, smart, and in many ways he and Scarlett are alike. While as a child's disease left his mobility lessened, his intelligence has only continued to grow. He and Scarlett are often the ones who make dark times brighter. However, unlike Scarlett, he does not have her charisma. It does not mean he does not try hard and sometimes even succeeds. If I had to compare him to anyone, it would be Joker from Mass Effect. What I would give to be on a ship with those two. Laughter for hours!
Zila Madran (The Dangerous Brain):
Zila may be my second favorite because she has deadpan humor that sometimes does not always hit the mark, which only makes it all the funnier. She is the science and medic of the squad who does all the major thinking and puzzle piecing for her group. However, despite being so adequate in her field, she often fails at socializing. She does not understand people on a humane level; she finds it hard to sympathize or show empathy for others. It is revealed later in the second book why she is the way she is, cold-hearted, and unable to converse with those around her. I won’t share it, but just know it is tragic. Even more so since she ever-so-slowly starts to grow, but it partially gets knocked down after some key situations happen. I loved reading her perspective most of all because it is so well written. I believed every moment of her scenes. Sometimes when authors try to make cold characters, they appear mean or dramatic. Zila is neither, she is just her true self and the scope of her world is fascinating.
Catherine Brannock (The Hotshot):
Cat or Zero is one of my least favorite characters in this series, but it does not mean I outright disliked her. I just felt like she didn’t bring enough to the table when compared to the other characters. Her outlook on situations was often flawed because she lets her feelings and emotions control her actions. However, at the same time, this is what I like most about her as well. She is realistically written. There are many times when my emotions caused me to do or say things I would later regret. This is Cat, in a nutshell, she is quick to anger and will let you know just how she is feeling. She was best friends with Ty and Scar before their group was created, therefore she is often closest to them than the others. It took something awful happening to her for me to realize just how much I love her as a character. Even if she irks my very soul at times, this just proves how well the authors are at evoking emotions.
The plot tells the story of this unusual squad working on an unexpected mission to save their home from an evil that only they know of. This often means that they have to go against their own people to save those same people. It blurs the lines of trust and defiance, to see just how far they will go to save the world. This plot was unlike any I have ever read. That’s a lie. It is like many I have read but never done this uniquely. I enjoyed every moment of this book, and the authors did not let one page go to waste. Each page did it’s best to move the plot along in some way or another, introducing new characters and various scenes that will bring out every emotion from sadness to happiness. The introduction of side characters and the roles they played within the book were well done. I never felt like they were trying to jam a bunch of information in my head at once. A lot of the information about the new characters were organically shared throughout the story. This is why I ended up loving many of the new characters despite being introduced to them halfway through or at the end of the books. Due to all of this, the plot never got old or boring. The action slows down in some areas, but the writing is still well enough done that it carries you into the next scene. Both Jay and Ami did a fantastic job on this series, I could see myself reading it more than once.
I came into this series expecting to hate it, and I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome of both books. Usually, when books are so hyped up, they aren’t that interesting to me. As I mentioned before, I can’t do books with too many voices that sound the same and or are all wonky on the story timeline. So I am pleased the writing was more cohesive in these books. Which brings me to the topic of how each character was unique. No one character had the same personality, belief, or opinion. Even the way they spoke was unique to that character as a whole, some had accents and some had a different dialect. I loved that I could picture their different voices in my head. Aurora is soft but determined. Kal is cautious and calculated. Cat is brass and blunt. I could go on. Each is so unique that it would be hard to forget what perspective you are reading. Kudos to the authors! The other thing I loved most was their representation of the LGBTQ group. I mentioned before that things in this book happen very organically, their gay characters are no exception. There is no big scene to show that a character is gay or no overly obvious actions that come off as over the top. Their gay characters are just gay without any fanfare, it’s just a part of who they are. Nothing more and nothing less. I love that because it normalizes this community rather than making it seem like something so out of the ordinary. As a bisexual woman, it was so good to see me represented in this book that I loved so much. Last, but not least, is the lore of the series. You can tell the authors took their time because there is so much lore that the characters come across which makes me believe in the world they have built. When the characters are learning things about their world at the same time as us, it lets us know that we have only scratched the surface. Things that even the characters don’t know. It makes me excited to learn more and figure out what the hell is going on.
In closing, the characters were well developed, the world was large and believable, and the plot was fast-paced and entertaining. This deserved every single one of the five stars that I gave both books!