So last week, my Top Ten Tuesday post was about books I loved but never reviewed. This prompted me to at least try to review some books I never reviewed before, in anticipation of new releases in the same series. So this time I’m reviewing both Skyward and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson!
I read Skyward well over a year ago, when I was stuck in a massive science-fiction kick. Starsight came out fairly soon after that, but I didn’t get to it until early this year. This series is supposedly going to consist of four books, and I’d love to review all of them!
By Brandon SandersonPublished 6 November 2018 by Gollancz
science fiction | young adult | space wars
My rating: ★★★★☆
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
So Skyward is basically Top Gun: Space Edition. What remains of society is so small, everyone is assigned a job. Of course, the most prestigious job there is, is pilot, like Spensa’s late father. Unfortunately, he turned traitor and effectively doomed Spensa and her family to live as outcasts.
Like with most Sanderson’s books, his world building takes place in first person POV. Most of what we know about Spensa and the planet she lives on is told through her perspective. The planet is entirely encased in a shield, that both protects them from the Krell, the mysterious aliens, but also keeps them trapped. I think Sanderson did an exceptional job building this world. It’s very different from other sci-fis I’ve read in the past. There are so many unknowns, like why are the humans at war with the Krell? How did they get to that planet? How will they even leave? The mystery aspect of this book made me not want to put it down.
I absolutely love the characters, too. Spensa is very confident. Her character arc is almost reverse of what we’re used to seeing in YA. Throughout the book, she realizes that her world is not so black and white as she thought. It makes her question herself, her family, and her future.
Then there’s M-bot, the spaceship she found. M-bot has some pretty nifty AI features. Aside from the fact that he talks, he seems to also be reluctant to fight the Krell with Spensa, as he’s absolutely convinced that’s not what he was made for. His sass is hilarious, and I loved every minute reading about him.
Lastly, I loved the interactions between all the characters. Some are infuriating, some are adorable, some you can’t help but feel for. Even though Spensa is very much the MC, all the other characters definitely have their own lives and personalities, and it shows in this book.
By Brandon SandersonPublished 26 November 2019 by Orion
science fiction | young adult | space wars
My rating: ★★★★.5☆
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing.
Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.
But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
At this point I’m going to assume you read Skyward, and so you now know that Spensa is no normal girl. Her people finally know what’s out there, and Spensa finally knows what happened to her father. If you think this blurb is vague, your’re right: it is. And it’s really so that no spoilers accidentally made it on there. In turn that makes it hard for me to keep this review spoiler free. Anyway, what I can say is that in Starsight, Spensa leaves her planet and infiltrates a society she never would’ve dreamed of existing. Thus, she learns many things about her world, what happened to her people, and why the Krell are so determined to keep the humans trapped on their planet.
Since Spensa is no longer on her home planet, the characters we know from Skyward hardly have any role in this book. What we get in return, though, is a glimpse into the life of the Krell, and other alien species. I love that this book took place completely elsewhere, because it made the world both richer and more grand. Plus, where Skyward was just about being space pilots, Starsight makes it clear that the lives of literally everyone in the universe it at stake. This change of direction makes Starsight a way more tense read the Skyward.
Like I said, I really can’t say anything constructive about this book without accidentally spoiling something, so this is where I’ll end the review. Just know that in book three, shit will get real.