Hello everybody, today I will be discussing about Aurora Burning, the second book in the Aurora Cycle trilogy written by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman. Before going further, do note that this is a FULL SPOILER review.
This spoiler discussion is broken down into five sections…
If there is anything specific you want to read about first, you can always scroll down to the section that interests you the most. The section list is as follows:
Section 1: Characters – Where I discuss each character’s story arc and character development
Section 2: Relationships and character interactions – Where I talk about the relationships between the characters, including romantic relationships (Yes, I mean Kal and Auri… But not just them! *wink, wink*)
Section 3: Plot and pacing – Where I talk about the story’s progress and issues to do with the plot and the pacing of the book
Section 4: Plot twists and big reveals – Basically spoilers. Spoilers everywhere.
Section 5: The ending – Where I share my final thoughts about how the book ends.
Alright, let’s get started. We have a loooot to cover!
Section 1: Characters
Auri – I’ll be honest, I was a bit frustrated with Auri in this book. Everybody is putting their lives on the line for her, Cat even died during their last mission, and instead of putting her full focus on training to learn how to control her abilities, she basically spends the first part of the book either whining on not knowing how to use her powers or fantasizing about Kal when he actually tries to get her to train. During their training sessions, all she can focus on is how gorgeous he is… Like, really? And then, in the second part of the book, after she actually gets proper training after meeting with the Eshvaren, her personality just kind of disappears. From the moment the Eshvaren appears to her and begin to train her, you can tell that there is something a little odd going on with them and that their motivations might not be all that heroic. Kal even warns her about this. But Auri doesn’t question anything. She readily accepts everything she is told. Her opinions, her thoughts… It all goes out of the window. It all felt a little cultish and brainwashy to be honest. And while I’m glad that she finally gets full control over her powers, personality-wise, Auri really took a step back for me.
Tyler and Scarlett – I loved both of them in this book. At some point during the book, Tyler is separated from the crew and it’s up to Scarlett to lead the team. She really steps up and does a great job leading the squad. I also love how super caring she is to the whole crew. As for Tyler, after he is captured by their enemies, he really shines through as the brilliant strategist we know him to be, creating a tentative alliance of sorts with Saedii, a newly introduced antagonist (more on her later), and just being a general badass.
Kal – In this book, Kal shows more of his vulnerable side and opens up a lot more to everyone. His character arc is probably one of the best ones in this book as we really get to explore a lot more of his personality, as well as his past and backstory.
Zila – We finally learn a lot more about her, including how she lost her family and how she became the way she is. I also love how she learns to slowly embrace her emotions throughout the book, making tentatives attempts at jokes and interacting more with the squad. I hope we get to see a lot more about her in the next book.
Finnian – Sadly, while he was as adorable as ever, I feel like he was barely there in this book. He never really gets much to do, which he actually acknowledges himself towards the end of the book. I really hope his character contributes more to the story in the next book.
Saedii – She is Kal’s sister, one of the leaders of the Unbroken and one of the book’s main antagonists. I actually really enjoyed her character. She is badass, kinda evil, and her character is very well fleshed out. I look forward to seeing more of her in book 3.
Section 2: Relationships and character interactions
Scarlet and Finn – While I love their interactions, I really don’t feel any genuine romantic chemistry between them (and so despite them getting a near kiss towards the end of the book when they think they are about to die). While Finn’s crush on Scarlett is really sweet and genuine, his feelings honestly feel very one-sided to me. For me, these two work best as good friends rather than romantic partners.
Auri and Kal – I love that their relationship finally evolves and that they officially start dating (and sleeping together), but man do they have some serious communication issues to work through. And then something happens towards the end of the book that felt completely uncharacteristic for them. Auri and the squad find out that Kal is the Starslayer’s son and everyone feels oh so betrayed, basically lashing out at Kal for it, as if he somehow chose to be the son of a psycho mass murdering terrorist (more on that under ‘Squad’). But what annoyed me the most about this scene is that Auri completely refuses to let Kal explain why he kept this information from everyone, and essentially dumps him in the coldest way possible. And that after an entire book of them basically proclaiming their undying love to each other. You would think that out of respect for what they had Auri would have at least accepted to hear Kal out. Nope.
Tyler and Saedii – After they get captured by common enemies, they basically grudgingly decide to team up to escape. I absolutely loved all of their scenes together. From their fights to their not so subtle flirting, everything about their scenes was just perfect. I kind of get the feeling that there is the potential for a future romance between these two, and I honestly wouldn’t mind if that’s how their dynamic evolves in book 3 (because yes, I do believe that Tyler makes it at the end of this book, probably due to being saved at the last minute by Saedii).
The Squad – Hmmmm…. So here’s the thing. We are repeatedly reminded of how strong their bond is and how they are basically like family to each other. However… We never actually get to see that for ourselves. Exchanging banter during action scenes is not enough to establish how strong their bond is. Also, although we as readers get to find out about the backstories of each character (Kal’s violent training with his father, Zila having witnessed her family’s murder as a child, etc…), the characters themselves don’t actually open up to each other about these things. I get that everyone’s is entitled to their painful secrets. But it is by learning to open up to each other that friends, or family as they refer to each other, get closer and build stronger bonds. We are repeatedly told to believe in the strength of their bond when in reality, most of them still barely know anything about each other. And it doesn’t help that when the squad finds out the truth about Kal’s dad, they immediately turn on him and start yelling at him and blaming him for his father’s crimes, before promptly kicking him out of the squad and dumping his ass on some remote planet. I mean, I understand that Tyler and Scarlett would feel incredibly hurt and betrayed. Their dad did die because of Kal’s father. But everyone else’s reactions? It all felt incredibly out of character. So much for those strong bonds >_>
Section 3: Plot and pacing
The pacing was quite slow compared to book 1 and it took me a while to get into the story. And although we do get a lot of new information about the Eshvaren, the Starslayer, Tyler and Scarlett’s father and the individual characters’ backstories, the plot moved quite slowly.
In this book, Auri and the squad find a crystal of sorts that allow Auri to access a sort of spiritual plane of existence called the Echo, where she meets the Eshvaren and finally properly begins her training. Time moves differently there, allowing her to spend months there training while in reality only a few hours pass. While I understand the need for those scenes and while I was glad that this provided an opportunity for Auri to get a power boost in a way that felt credible and organic, I wasn’t a huge fan of these scenes and found them pretty boring to be honest. Right from the start, I also thought that the Eshvaren’s motives seemed very questionable, which is something that Kal also comments on several times. And yet, as I was saying earlier, Auri just refuses to listen to Kal’s warnings and just blindly embraces everything the Eshvaren teach her. Again, like I said earlier, Auri’s behaviour soon becomes weirdly cultish. The Eshvaren just felt really creepy to me. Also Auri starting to refer to the Eshvaren as Esh? Just weird.
Section 4: Plot twists and big reveals
Tyler and Scarlett’s mother was a Syldrathi – This was the one big reveal that I honestly did not see coming. Everything else though… *Sigh* We’ll get to those. After they are locked up together, Tyler realizes that he and Saedii are able to communicate telepathically. She says that it’s because he is part Waywalker Syldrathi (like her and Kal, who also had a Walwalker mother), going on to reveal that his mother was a Waywalker Syldrathi. This explains why his father fought so hard to end the war between their worlds. Not gonna lie, I thought this was a pretty cool reveal. I thought that Tyler’s newfound telepathy was a cool addition to his character. We are also told that being part Waywalker is one of the reasons why Scarlett is so good at reading people as a Face. I hope that we will see the Jones twins explore their Waywalker abilities further in book 3.
The Starslayer is Kal’s (and Saedii’s) father – Honestly, I had an inkling that Kal’s father would turn out to be the Starslayer and I was so disappointed when we find out that this is actually the case. I mean, this is like the oldest cliche in the book. That being said, I did enjoy learning out more about Kal’s past and exploring his (very) complicated relationship with his father. What I did not enjoy though was the super out of character reactions of his squad mates when they find out the truth about that. I understand that they would feel angry and betrayed. But to go as far as not allowing him to explain himself and just kicking him out of the squad??? No. I. AM. NOT. OVER. IT. Especially since Kal does try to explain that he was scared to tell them the truth because he was afraid it would lead to him losing everything and everyone he cared about. He tries to explain that becoming part of the squad was the first time in a long time that he felt like he was part of a family, and that he actually truly belonged somewhere. And he says that he didn’t say anything because he was afraid he would lose that. WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS.
The Starslayer’s mysterious world destroying weapon is the same weapon that the Eshvaren told Auri to find – I honestly cannot believe how no one in the squad figured this out earlier. This is like the most predictable plot twist in the entire book. In book 1, we are told that the Starslayer used a ‘mysterious’ weapon to destroy the entire planet of the Syldrathi. Later in the book, Auri finds out that the Eshvaren have left behind a ‘mysterious’ weapon that she needs to retrieve to save the universe. How did no one on the squad figure out that the Starslayer’s weapon and the Eshvaren’s weapon was the exact same thing?? This was so bloody obvious.
Section 5: The ending
The ending was actually very action packed, which I really enjoyed. We basically find ourselves in the middle of an epic space battle between the Allied Terran forces, the Unbroken and the GIA, during which the squad is trying to stop the Starslayer from annihilating Terra with the Eshwaren weapon. Eventually, things take a turn for the worse and the book ends with our characters out of options and getting ready to face their deaths. I enjoyed the near kiss scene between Finn and Scarlett (I still see them as only friends though) and I liked that Zila actually told her friends that she was glad to have been part of their squad.
That being said…
There is a difference between ending a book on a cliffhanger, and ending a book mid-chapter. And this is exactly what happened. The book doesn’t actually end. It just stops mid-scene. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly shocked or annoyed by it because although we clearly are supposed to be scared for the fates of the characters, it’s obvious that they are going to figure a way out of their seemingly impending doom. I mean, we already know that there is going to be a third book.
My final thoughts
Sadly, Aurora Burning was rather disappointing for me. I didn’t hate it or anything but I had a lot of issues with the book and overall, I found it rather underwhelming and predictable. Hopefully though, the next book will address some of those issues and bring us all the amazingness that made Aurora Rising such a fun ride. I gave Aurora Rising a rating of 4 stars on Goodreads and for Aurora Burning, I’m sadly going to go with a 2 stars rating.
Share your thoughts with me!
Have you read Aurora Burning? What did you think of it? Feel free to comment down below and share your thoughts with me 😀