Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
I am so nervous to write this review.
I know a lot of people don’t agree with negative reviews, but I have discussed and written many articles on why I write negative reviews. And so, here is one. The first one of 2019, where I’ll be talking about Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman, which was kindly sent to me by Rock The Boat News (I apologise to them in advance, but this is an honest review!).
If you’re new to my blog, then you might not know that I love Jay Kristoff’s writing. It’s hilarious, action-packed, and the world-building is so vivid. I haven’t read anything by Amie Kaufman before, so I can’t really comment. But what drew me in was Jay’s name. Plus, the ARC is pretty beautiful too.
I didn’t really read too much into what the book was about. It was pretty obvious it was about space, and that was great! I love space books!
But this book…did not sit well with me at all.
Let’s start with dialogue, which is the cringiest thing about this book. We’re introduced to each character in the ‘squad’, who has their own POV. Two of them are siblings, and it’s quickly established when we’re reading one POV and he says something along the lines of “My sister shows up.”
However, apparently that wasn’t enough. This character (the sister), then proceeds to call her brother anything BUT his name. Little brother. Bro. Bee-bro. Brother mine. Yes, you read that correctly; BROTHER MINE. It sounds like something Mycroft Holmes would call Sherlock or Loki would call Thor. What teenager calls their sibling ‘brother mine’? While ‘brother mine’ is saved for just the beginning, variations of ‘brother’ continue throughout the book, along with other characters indicating that he is in fact, her brother.
I got it. They’re related.
In fact, a lot of one-liners (that weren’t funny the first time) are repeated in the book, and make my toes curl every time I read them. I don’t want to quote the book too much, because the ARC is not final, but let’s just say there are some real hum-dingers that made me put the book down for a few seconds just to recover.
The characters themselves? I kind of hate them.
Ok, maybe not hate. But they are all stereotypes. They all conform to either boring, overdone, or mean clichés. The most infuriating ones were the ‘slutty girl’ and the ‘special girl’.
Scarlett is your very lazily written ‘seductress’ who uses her ‘feminine wiles’ to entice silly men and get herself out of trouble. Her role is the group’s ‘face’. She’s a negotiator, a peace keeper and a translator. She’s supposed to act as a representative for the group, but everything she does is related to her ‘assets’, her outward sexuality, what she wears. There’s nothing wrong with characters that aren’t modest, are comfortable in their sexuality, and love to flirt. But when a female character is just that?
One character mulls over his perception of Scarlett, thinking to himself “There’s something about her – under the bitchy and the sexy.” I’ve never physically shuddered so much by one line. Not only has she not done anything to warrant being called ‘bitchy’ (she’s actually the nicest character in the whole group), but even if she had, what an awfully cliché male-written line that is.
Our ‘special girl’ is Auri, the character on the cover of the final copy of the book. She’s our Deus Ex Machina. Without spoiling too much; whenever the group end up in a situation they can’t get out of, Auri uses her magical powers to get them out. Other characters automatically trust her, fall in love with her, and let her bypass rules, laws and put others in danger.
While I may have had problems with specific characters, there are other aspects of the book that I just didn’t enjoy.
There are two, intersecting love triangles. Again, without spoiling it, I don’t want to reveal who is included. But, it involves 4/7 of the group, with girls automatically hating girls, and a mate side plot. Someone took a heckin’ branch out of Sarah J Maas’ book and included a ‘you are fated to me’ romance plot. If you love that sort of thing, it may not bother you, but my eyes rolled so far back I nearly saw my brain.
There are also no canon LGBTQ characters.
I’m not going to mark it down for that; I’ve read a lot of books that don’t and I’ve still enjoyed them. It doesn’t ruin a book for me. However there is one character who is hinted at a being bisexual…through his unwanted advances, his pervy nature, and his enjoyment of hitting on everyone. Gotta love that ‘depraved bisexual’ trope, right? Oh, and there was a fake gay kiss scene that felt a bit like queer baiting. Just *slow clap*.
Smaller, perhaps more minor issues were that all aliens are just humans with blue/purple/green ‘leathery’ skin a la Star Trek in the sixties. There is no imagination there, and when you’ve read a Becky Chambers book, you’ll soon find books like Aurora Rising just aren’t thinking creatively enough about what other life forms would look/live/sound like.
I think, overall, I wanted this book to do so well. I actually really like the premise, and some parts gave off the vibe ‘Star Trek crew becomes the Firefly crew’. That sounds great! But this book just did not pull it off. Even the synopsis makes me cringe.
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates – the character in question is absolutely not a sociopath and throwing loaded words like that around isn’t a good look.
I’m not going to tell you to not read this book. I’m not going to say it’s ‘problematic’ or harmful, because it isn’t. It’s just, in my opinion, bad. Bad reviews are not there to tell you what you should and shouldn’t read, and I hope that, if you do read this book, you enjoy it way more than I did.
Publisher: One World Publications
Release Date: 7th May 2019
Rating: ☆☆ .5
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