September 27, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

This Is Gonna Hurt… Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle Book #2) by Jay Kristoff and Aime Kaufman Releases May 5th

Aurora Burning (Aurora Cycle #2) by Aime Kaufman and Jay Kristoff releases the 312 Squad on May 5th, meshing themes of grief, PTSD, and generational effects of war, with intergalactic hi-jinx we've come to expect.

Aurora Rising and Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Aime Kaufman

Per normal- There are spoilers for Aurora Rising but NOT for Aurora Burning. If you would like to take a gander at my review of Aurora Rising, it is linked to the right. The summary for Aurora Burning, can be found in the Spring/Summer Fling 2020 post, also linked in the first sentence. Also, a quick disclaimer. I literally started reading Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle Book #2) mere hours after finishing Jay Kristoff’s NeverNight Chronicles. Probably not my brightest move ever. While I don’t think it mattered as much as I thought it would, maybe keep it in the back of your head.

I did pick up on the use of cigarillos quite a bit and couldn’t help but wonder if that was intentional?


Aurora Rising

Reviewed of my own accord, purchased on my own and there will be spoilers of only Aurora Rising.


Phew… there are a few and they fall into a couple of categories.

  1. Untouchables- Impossible to mention or discuss because of spoilers.
  2. Semi-touchable because I can make up whack-ado examples to get the point across. The theme itself reveals much ado about nothing.
  3. Touch me! Get your head out of the gutter. They are straight out of the events of Aurora Rising. Since I said that there would be spoilers for Aurora Rising, we can discuss these because that is where they are rooted.

Let’s start with the latter.


Squad 312 is reeling from the loss of Cat at the end of Aurora Rising. Kristoff and Kaufman play this out well in multiple ways. First, it isn’t a quick fix. The squad doesn’t just have a pep talk or metaphorical funeral at the beginning of Aurora Burning and then we don’t hear about Cat again. It is a resurfacing issue for each character, in different ways throughout the story.

This is realistic because this is how PTSD works. Grief and trauma are processed by different people, in different ways. Similarly, it is triggered in different people, in different ways. The writing for each character is unique and nuanced throughout the story as they process the end of Aurora Rising.

Cat is also not the only source of PTSD for these characters. There are other backstory’s presented in Aurora Burning. Through these backstories we gain a greater understanding of their personalities. It is both enlightening and heartbreaking. That trauma and the PTSD that lingers with them from those times continues to shape them. For one that has somewhat broken free, a moment that triggers that trauma back to the surface, erases the progress made in an instant. PTSD is that strong, the gripping and painful.

Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story?

Let’s say you are allergic to cats. God your life sucks. Sorry I’m off track. Anyhow, you go on a date with someone and you really like them. You are dating them casually and they want to make you dinner… cue “this is getting serious and awesome.” So, you go over there and woah… they have three cats. It isn’t even that you don’t like cats. You are just really allergic.

But you aren’t going to ruin this. You quickly make-up an excuse that you think you illegal parked, run to the drug store and pop a couple of Allegra and pray. You don’t feel great, at all but you can hide it. It is SO worth it because other than the cats, everything goes PERFECTLY. So, you push it off. Then they find out from a mutual friend about the cats.

And then what happens?

My Chemical Romance

They wanted to know RIGHT AWAY. You just thought it should have waited until you were sure things were serious because what if it fell apart? You were scared to say. Then what is the point anyway, right? Well they definitely don’t see it that way. You are completely willing to try and figure this out and want to figure this out but nope- uh uh. Not happening. As they see it? YOU LIED. That’s it. Done.

You try to make them see reason. If you had said something, the second you saw those cats? Would they have ever seen you again? Even given it a chance. They don’t want to hear it. So that’s it.

This not how it goes down in the book, at all. I don’t just mean the cats, duh. IT IS NOT A RELATIONSHIP THING AT ALL. It is just a matter of, if something is personal to you, it is your life, your story? Who gets to say when, if ever, you are ready to talk about it? And do others have a right to be angry or should they be understanding? It is complex, painful, grueling and ugly.

Consequences of War

I can’t say a lot about this because of spoilers.

However, I have lived through the multi-generational trauma caused by the Vietnam War. I know the numerous layers of emotional, physical, economical and sheer devastation it caused like a set of dominoes still crashing down some sixty years later… and it hasn’t stopped. I know this from watching the next generation growing up under those my age, severely damaged by vets like my dad.

The overarching message that comes through (to me) in Aurora Burning is, what I just stated. I can’t say anymore that without possibly giving away something that I shouldn’t. I might be the only one who sees it because of the lens that I read through.

Aurora Burning Review

Thank you to Knopf Books and Edelweiss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

312 HI-JINX!

Sorry if I scared you by front loading all the heavy stuff, but I do think those are the strongest components of the book.

That doesn’t mean that all the things you LOVED about Aurora Rising got thrown out the window. It is not easy to take such heavy, essential themes and wrap them up in fun, lovable characters that are running from a galaxy trying to kill them all while dealing with loss. Yet, still keep the action rollicking, the dialogue quippy, and the tone mostly campy.

Yet, here we are. Kaufman and Kristoff handle it swiftly. It isn’t out of place or ever done in a way that belittles the depth of what is happening. We all have our own way of getting through. Fin’s soul is sarcasm. We expect him to be sarcastic and joke, even at the depths of despair. I know how dark and twisted my humor is and that is definitely how I’ve gotten through life. Does everyone get it? No. But it is definitely true for many people.

They strike a great balance between the two and in interweaving these huge, headier themes within the plucky attitude of the 312. A new character or two counterbalances this, but I don’t want to say anything about that, now.

Aurora and Kal

Ick. This isn’t my trigger or romance dislike. I’m going to sum this up in a couple of sentences. The second Kal basically talked about whether or not he actually loved Aurora or it was just his instinct to mate? NO NO NO NO NO. This was no longer even a relationship to trigger me. This was predatory and I was grossed out. NO. Just. NO. The whole… I won’t describe anymore of how it was written because you can find out for yourself… but I just… no. It was not right. It felt like something that would get him put in To Catch A Predator, not a YA novel.

That Ending

Just. Fuck. Fuckity Fuck Fuck Fuck. They did their jobs, ok. Hell, they did their jobs, and about a half-dozen other author’s job, ok? I mean seriously. Just go take a few days off from writing cliffhangers. Because. Now we are all gonna just sit here and stare at each other and be like…



West Wing



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