“The warrior’s way was not to run from failure, but up to it and do better.”Skyward, Brandon Sanderson
This is my introduction to Brandon Sanderson’s non-Cosmere and young adult books, and I was so glad that this book did not disappoint and that it had all the expectations I had from his other works. It’s been a while since I last read a book that kept me up well into the night and early morning just so I could get some answers.
Skyward is a very fast-paced and intense space opera science fiction book that would definitely be palatable to avid sci-fi readers or beginners. I haven’t read a ton of sci-fi lately so my grasp on some concepts have been a bit slow, but Sanderson knows how to write great stuff without being overwhelming and confusing. The plot and story progression were totally formulaic for Sanderson wherein it starts slow but quickly builds up and gets more intricate. There was never a dull moment because everything was so action-packed and tense from their flight school training to the actual battles themselves. Even the tender moments still packed a punch in the story. I also really liked how the world itself was very easy to grasp and straightforward. It really helped that the book has a detailed map and art inserts in the pages, which made everything even easier to understand and imagine.
One of the things I absolutely love about Sanderson is that he does amazing character work and their dynamics, especially in his most recent entries (*coughs* The Stormlight Archives and Mistborn Era 2 *coughs*). Everyone just had so much personality and depth to them that you cannot not love and root for them from the very start. While I don’t normally like the perpetually angry and aggressive character in my stories, as Spensa was definitely this character, but she had been given another totally different side of her that made her actions more sensible and understanding. I enjoyed her over-the-top personality, but it was her softer and vulnerable side that made me adore her. The other characters were just as lovable and hilarious, and I can’t wait to see more of them in the next books. But all these characters interacting and forming relationships and bonds with one another was truly the most exceptional thing.
But what really stole the show for me was a Flounder-looking slug that mimics people’s voices and appears out of nowhere and an AI who expertly does sarcasm, constantly questions humans, and loves mushrooms. What is it with Sanderson and him making me love his non-human creatures in most of his books?!
While Starsight didn’t have the same intense impact factor that Skyward did for me, I still pretty much enjoyed my time reading it, and those final two parts of the book got me screaming into the void because of all the unexpected twists and turns that were being dropped left and right.
Typical of any Sanderson book, this one had a slow start, especially after the events that happened in the first book. However, the slow pacing was needed in order to provide the worldbuilding, because this was now the book wherein the world is expanded even further, and new characters, locations, and concepts, so readers are introduced to the grander scheme of things in this universe. Basically almost half of the book was set aside for worldbuilding, and if there is Brandon Sanderson great at, it’s providing a very clear-cut and complex world for his stories. The plot and story-telling in this book are also very on point, but I did note that it was a bit slower this time, and the Sanderlanche towards the end just really made up for it.
This is the book wherein I began to appreciate Spensa even more. I always enjoyed her over-the-top warrior personality, but I love that this was where she was starting to question everything – that not everything is black and white as she always thought it would be. While I liked the new characters introduced here – especially her new flight crewmates – and I liked seeing their dynamics altogether, they didn’t exactly hold the candle to me compared to the Skyward Flight fleet. I just really missed those ragtag group a lot, and I’m really hoping we would get to see more of them in the next book. But as usual, stealing the show for me was MBot who has been having a constant existential crises, and of course Doomslug who literally blew my mind because I didn’t expect that this little slug would get an even bigger role than what I expected.
I’m just so glad I only have to wait until November this year, because I don’t know how I would wait for too long after that big cliffhanger at the end.
About The Author
The only author to make the short list for the David Gemmell Legend Award six times in four years, Brandon won that award in 2011 for The Way of Kings. The Emperor’s Soul won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novella. He has appeared on the New York Times Best-Seller List multiple times, with five novels hitting the #1 spot.
Currently living in Utah with his wife and children, Brandon teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.