Aurora Burning made me feel a little burned.
Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff picks up where the first book in the Aurora Cycle left off. After uncovering the secrets of what’s really going on behind the GIA and being labeled intergalactic terrorists, the crew is racing against time, and Kal’s Syldrathi family who show up and want him back, no matter the cost.
When I read Aurora Rising, I was completely invested. Although Aurora Rising contained many similarities to other space books or movies, I really loved the characters and wanted more of their stories. While Aurora Burning started off strong for me, it started to fizzle out about halfway through and the problems. Many of the problems that other readers indicated that they had with the first story started to appear again, and this time, I found it not as easy to ignore them.
A lot happens in the first book and I enjoyed that the book gave a short recap of the events of the first novel in a fun way (a report by Magellan with colorful commentary). Like with Aurora Rising, I found the beginning the beginning to be interesting, especially as readers receive background on characters who aren’t as open, like Zila and Kal. In the first book, readers primarily look at the Aurora Legion, but in this book, we get to explore other groups in space and the complicated relationships that still exist even after a peace treaty was established. All of this information occurs within high-action situations or presented in a fun way (like Magellan’s report), so I didn’t feel like information was being dumped on me. However, at around the 50% mark, the story became more repetitive, and as a result, not as motivating or interesting to read.
In Aurora Burning, we are introduced to a few new characters, namely many people part of the Unbroken, the Syldrathi army who decimated its own people. However, these characters either weren’t well fleshed-out or echoed other characters that we’ve seen before in this series. In many reviews for the first book, many readers felt that many of the core characters too closely resembled each other and this remains true for other characters added to the novel. Saedii, Kal’s sister, is basically a blood-thirsty version of Cat. The Starslayer literally has a villain monologue where he practically spells out his ideology for readers. Maybe this characters will be fleshed out in the next book, similarly to how Zila and Kal’s story were expanded in this book. However, it does become frustrating when characters repeat the same lines over and over to reinforce their very one-dimensional personalities, which is particularly true of Saedii’s characters.
Another gripe that many readers had in the first book of this series is that scenes were too drawn out or very repetitive. This problem persists in Aurora Burning. I felt like some of the situations and conversations were repeated over and over again, just using slightly different words. By repeating this same scenes over and over again (especially the part where Aurora explores her powers), it made me extremely bored because it felt like the story line wasn’t progressing at all. Once I got to the halfway point, I had to put this book down for awhile (around two weeks) before I picked it up again because I just couldn’t get into the second half of this story.
There is another issue that I have complicated feelings towards in this book. One one hand, I appreciate how Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff do what is best for the story, even though it won’t appease readers. They will eliminate characters that maybe their audience loves, but it makes sense for where it occurs in the story. Characters that you may want to be in a romantic relationship won’t end up in that relationship because that’s not always realistic. At the same time, I think you need to give your audience something to root for in the story. For me personally, there wasn’t much for me to root for in this story. The good moments in this story were so few and far between that nothing was ever quite satisfying for me to read.
The final aspect of this book that irritated me was the ending. This book ends on a major cliff-hanger. Yes, this book is a part of a series and readers can expect another book. At the same time, Aurora Burning is its own book in the series and should have its own distinct beginning, middle, and end within the series. Like I mentioned earlier, the best way to describe this was simply unsatisfying.
Overall, this book was an average read for me. I really enjoyed the first half, but really struggled with the second half of this book. Although I do intend to continue this series, my expectations going into the next book will not be as high as my expectations for this one. I give Aurora Burning three stars.
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