"Ty is a natural leader and a brilliant tactician, but according to his sister, he "wouldn't know fun if it invaded his planet."
Bear with me, this is going to be an unusually personal review.
Binge reading isn't something I do a lot of. Sure, I might push myself through a book in a day, but largely that's to meet a deadline. I'm good about staying on schedule, fitting personal reads in where I have time.. patiently waiting to get to that title I owe no obligation to, but simply.. even sometimes desperately.. want to read.
Hear me out though. Look at that face. Those eyes. Even the wound. I've been seeing it everywhere for months as the buzz for 'Aurora Burning' by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff continued to build to a fever pitch. But, I digress.
Initially, I didn't think I was interested. I read the synopsis, which came across as pretty tongue-in-cheek. I felt like it was a group I didn't really care to learn about and some kind of space drama I wasn't really intrigued by at all, which isn't to say I don't like sci-fi or fantasy hybrids. I do actually, quite a lot.
Of course, I'm on Twitter and I browse my notifications from various book industry members.. and so, I've followed Kristoff for ages. Not because I'd ever read anything he was involved in, but rather.. because I liked the way he spoke to people. To his fans. How he spoke for people. For friends and people he felt deserved more respect. Though again, I really only saw glimpses here and there and regretfully, hadn't paid as much attention as I now know I should have.
Last week I even caught him on an Instagram Q&A, discovering he's incredibly charming, pretty brilliant himself, and even funnier on video than in text. I haven't gotten to know much about Kaufman yet, but they write so seamlessly together, I'm eager to learn.
In my defense, the last several years have been very rough ones for me. I drifted away from doing almost all the things I loved, even reading. I missed the moments where many of my now favorite writers were emerging on the scene. I picked up 'Nevernight' as a cover-buy not long after it came out, it just drew me in visually and it sounded amazing. Yet, still to this day I haven't read it. I will though. As my schedule evens out, I intend to be reading a lot more from both Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman.
"The Pull is more than words.
Love is a drop in the ocean of what I feel for her.
Love is a single sun in a heaven full of stars."
A few weeks ago, with Kal's face haunting my thoughts as I tried to do other things, I finally gave in. I took the first step. I went to Amazon, clicked that little 'Look Inside' option, and read the available pages from Aurora Rising. Immediately, I was hooked. I fell for Kal from the moment he appeared in the hall. I fell for Cat's smart mouth and aggressively physical nature, both of which were things I could relate to. I fell for pretty boy Tyler with his savior syndrome.. and the aloof intellects of Fin and Zila.. even the sarcastic twin sister. My heart went out to Auri.
Just a few pages of story from these authors and I was utterly lost. It wasn't the Hadfield that was adrift. It was me. I didn't get to finish that book, as obligations were in the way, but I will.. and soon. Still.. desperately I bought both of the Aurora Cycle novels.. and tried to be patient. I tried to focus on my tasks at hand, as I always do. To keep my head down and work diligently, to earn the time to read what I genuinely wanted to read.
Yeah.. that lasted exactly three days. It's a good thing I wasn't the one being interrogated.. because I am weak. Three days of working my deadlines before I tossed everything to the opposite end of my desk and began to read 'Aurora Burning.'
Here I am though. Adrift again. I feel raw. All of my insides are on my outside. At least the nerves.. and they're all screaming.. because they didn't just want to put us through the proverbial ringer, they wanted to leave us there at the end. Which is, exactly what they did. They left us hanging there.. wounded and hoping for relief.. with no real certainty we'll get it. Not after what happened in the past.
The book is brilliant. It's bloody, it's beautiful, it's sweet, and it's brutal. Sometimes, all at once.
"I know my friends, and they are few. But those few I have, I would die for."
Though I hadn't finished the first book, it was easy to pick up the second. Kaufman and Kristoff sprinkled in just enough necessary information in from its predecessor that I was able to hit the ground running. The major plot points were reminisced in a cohesive way with the current story, so that it flowed naturally.
I read this one straight through. When I couldn't keep my eyes open, I took power naps.. but I kept going. Why? Because I couldn't.. or.. wouldn't put it down. Squad 312 couldn't just walk away for awhile. How could I?
An ancient evil has been waiting, biding it's time. That's the gist of the theme. No one really knows about it but the 312 and they're not in the best position to be stopping it with everyone after them, even their own. That doesn't stop them from trying though. They don't know the meaning of the word 'quit.' And honestly, that's part of what I love about them so much. The team just has so much heart.
Auri is the only hope they have of defeating the evil that is waiting for its chance to consume everything.. and Squal 312 is her only hope of surviving to get that far. If she can't learn to master her powers, the galaxy is done. Over.
There are scenes I will never forget. Some tragic, some funny. (Oh.. that mesh top, bondage pants, and glaring Syldrathi. Amirite?)
"The practice fell out of vogue in the twenty-second century, after Terrans discovered in the twentieth that it killed you!"
"It took them two hundred years to stop doing it?"
"Isn't that insane?" "Honestly, doesn't that sound like a species that would benefit from some kind of benevolent machine overlord?"
Kaufman and Kristoff did a beautiful job of managing the pace, letting that crescendo swell as things grew more intense. The dialogue IS a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in a way that makes sense. The banter of a team that has grown so close, they're really all like siblings. They know each other's likes and dislikes, their quirks, and sometimes they say or do things just to irritate each other.
Late in the story, there's a moment for me that was more devastating than the others. A moment I felt everyone was sort of overreacting, and ignoring what they knew deep down, for an ideal. As if, everything that had come before no longer counted. And in the suffering of that moment and those to follow, I was crushed under the weight of this story.
I loved that though. These two authors can break my heart and soul to pieces again any day. And, if this book is any indication.. they probably will. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.. and "thank the Maker".. there WILL be a book three.