Published: May 7, 2019
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Read as: US hardcover
Average Goodreads rating: 4.32
My rating: 3.5
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.
But to reject my darker side only strengthens it. To lock it in a cage, to deny it is part of me…I cannot stop being what I am. Instead, I must muster the rage to master it.
We’ve all seen this book plastered all over the place recently, yes? Kristoff and Kaufman have both become well known entities in the SFF world and their newest endeavor not only has a good plot premise but was low key blessed by the cover gods. How often do we see purple book covers? Not often, but this one is really eye catching.
That being said, I have had my ups and downs with Kristoff books so I went into this one with few expectations. I always enjoy the premise of his books but the writing sometimes just doesn’t click with me. This time I am happy to say that the writing was not one of my issues.
- I enjoyed the cast of characters. Sometimes when you read a young adult book you get the sense that the characters aren’t behaving as young adults would. This crew certainly did. They made good decisions for the most part but many of them were impulsive and hormones certainly played their part.
- The pacing was pretty much spot on. At no point did I feel like the story was at a lull. I know I sometimes read books where the story just drags for ages with nothing interesting or new happening and it is difficult to keep my attention on it. That was not the case here. There was almost constantly action and adventure and that is certainly something I enjoy.
- Our Big Bad in this book is nowhere near what I thought it was going to be and that really had me excited. And Big Bad’s army? GASP! They have a definite creepy factor and I love it.
- At the beginning, the group trying to save this girl out of time (Aurora)…well, I was just not on board with their reasons for saving her. It felt very forced. As the story progressed, Squad 312 started to feel more organic and believable as far as helping Aurora but when they first do it? Just felt like a convenient plot point to force the story to progress in the direction the authors wanted it to.
- The book is written in alternating perspectives which can sometimes be a lot of fun, but not in this case. Only one perspective, Kal’s, was easily recognizable. For the others I had to keep flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to see who was narrating that section because it was not at all obvious. This was even more irritating for Cat’s chapters because she is painted as this feisty, clever woman but her perspective didn’t convey that very well.
Overall this was a good SFF book and I enjoyed it enough to want to read more of the series. The story ends on quite an emotional punch to the face and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Squad 312 gets up to in the next book.