Hellooo lovelies! Happy friggin’ hump day. I say that sarcastically, to be honest. Life’s been beyond hectic and I have work to thank for that. Alas it means I’m a big ol’ ball of stress most of the time, but at least this time I managed to get some reading done!
I was beyond fortunate enough to have gotten my hands on an e-ARC of one of my, if not my most, anticipated releases of 2019. Honestly, you should have seen my face when I got the email from the contact from Penguin Random House, I was shocked. I was actually kind of hesitant to start reading it immediately considering how bad of a reading month I had last month, but it was the best decision I could’ve made. But I’ll get into more detail about that in the review!
The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…
A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering
And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.
They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.
First and foremost, let me start off by saying that, originally, I didn’t like the cover. I thought the art was beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t understand why we had to have another face on the cover. I’d originally thought that the cover would be more like the Illuminae trilogy, honestly, because I found those to be very fun to read through and decipher. Then…then I read it and I actually flip flopped on my original feeling because after I read the story and met the characters, it kind of felt right to have this mysterious girl out of time (Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley) on the cover. I still kind of wish that it included the other members of the cast, but I digress.
Speaking of cast, this novel follows A TON of characters. Not only do we follow Aurora, but we follow Tyler, his sister Scarlet, his best friend and pilot Cat, a snarky tech named Fin, a sociopath named scientist/medic Zila, and a hot space elf named Kal as they are basically thrown together and have to deal with the after effects of Aurora coming out of cryostasis. I’ve decided Scarlet and Cat are basically my spirit animals because their sass and snark just resonate with me. Honestly though all of these characters bring MAJOR snark and humor to the overall story, which gave me major Breakfast Club vibes while I was reading. I don’t remember if someone said it (they probably did) but honestly this book is basically The Breakfast Club meets Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol. 1, not 2.). The only complaint, and I can’t even call it that because more than likely we’ll see more of her in the second book, is that there honestly wasn’t enough Zila in this novel. My poor little sociopathic baby needs some love. And I would have liked to get a little more backstory for each of the other crew members, not just Scarlet, Ty, Aurora, and Cat, but like I said, there’s always book two!
I don’t know if ya’ll have noticed, but I’m a bit of a sucker for world building. Amie and Jay in particular are two authors who go into such minute detail in regard to world building that it makes my inner nerd just gush (I swear I was a cartographer in a past life). The world they created in this novel is expansive without feeling overwhelming. Never once did I think “oh there is too much going on” or that I didn’t understand some aspect of the world. They make the world building fit seamlessly into the story and it doesn’t feel like an info-dump when we meet a new species of alien or learn about a new planet or something.
You may also have noticed that I’m a stickler for pacing. Usually one of my biggest peeves is that there were things that made the story feel slow, or scenes that could’ve been taken out because they didn’t really add much to the overall story. With this novel I didn’t feel that way at all. I felt that all the scenes were deliberate. There was enough action that, at times, it was so hard for me to put this book down and that began at the very start.
Overall, I have no complaints about this novel. Jay and Amie do such a good job making sure that we get to know each character even though it is such a large cast of characters. They do not make the world building feel like one big info dump, and honestly the pacing of this novel was (in my opinion) perfection. I’d definitely recommend you guys check it out if you’re interested in a new sci-fi read, if you’ve read the Illuminae files (IT IS NOT A SPIN OFF), and if you’re a fan of a sassy cast and awesome world-building!