No one writes better YA sci-fi than Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Kaufman wrote the thrilling “The Unearthed” duology with Meagan Spooner and Kristoff wrote the very unique and dystopian “The Lifelike Trilogy.”
They wowed fans with the first book in this trilogy, and in “Aurora Burning,” the sequel to “Aurora Rising,” Kaufman and Kristoff take the story to new heights. They also leave readers on a cliffhanger that’s higher and more deadly than most cliffhanger endings. So if you hate cliffhangers, you might want to wait for the third book to come out and read them one right after another. Although maybe it’s better to be like the characters in this futuristic adventure and jump right in.
There are many characters in this trilogy, and except for Aurora, the main character, they are all recent graduates from the Aurora Legion, where they trained to keep peace in the intergalactic world. Tyler is the captain of the group, and his sister Scarlett is their communications and etiquette expert. Kaliis is the most unpredictable member of the squad, being a warrior Syldrathi, whose purpose in life is fighting. In the first book, we learn that he feels that Aurora is his “one,” which on his planet means he would spend his life with her. Finian is a mechanical genius who was sick as a child and needs a special suit for mobility. Zila is cold and driven by logic; she appears to have no feelings, while Cat, their ace pilot, is in love with Tyler. She is also Scarlett’s best friend.
Aurora is the reason they are on the run from the GIA, the Global Intelligence Agency. They found out that there is an alien intelligence trying to control all living creatures in the universe, the Ra’haam, and another intelligence, the Eshvaren, who tried to defeat the Ra’haam eons previously. Aurora was on an interplanetary ship to a new colony when her ship was destroyed. Two hundred years later, Tyler found the ship and found Aurora on it. Her reason for existence is that she is a weapon against the Ra’haam.
Aurora and the group of characters in Tyler’s squad are on a mission to save the universe. Even if practically everyone is trying to stop them.
There are many elements that work well in this story. The nonstop action will keep the pages turning even late into the night. There is also the addition of a time-paradox mystery. How did someone know back when the squad members were children what they would need at certain points in the action during their adventures? We don’t solve that mystery in this book, but it will keep you guessing, and one item becomes part of the cliffhanger ending.
Characters change and grow in this middle book. The two authors not only manage to keep the action coming, they keep advancing the relationships between the characters and showing character change in those people, as well. It adds to the multidimensional appeal of the story. There’s action, there’s adventure, there’s some romance, there’s betrayal, and there’s mystery.
And then there’s the huge cliffhanger ending. We know that everyone can’t die, but we also know that some of the characters may die. One already has. Hang on to this book so that when the third book is out, you can reread the ending and then jump into the next chapter in this thrilling and wonderfully written series.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Knopf, the publisher, for review purposes.