Length: 513 pages
Release date: 6 November 2018
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.
Remember that if the enemy manages to get a lifebuster bomb into range, they can not only destroy this base, but everyone below, and everything we love. You are the line between civilisation and madness.
I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to Brandon Sanderson. It was long past time I read something by this one of speculative fiction’s most prolific contemporary authors, and Skyward didn’t ease me in so much as throw me into the deep end and make me love it. This is a fresh take on YA not focused on romance, empowerment or sending a message, but a fine-tuned coming of age story against a backdrop of sci-fi badassery.
It’s so cheesy but so good. Sanderson’s knack for worldbuilding is second to none. He pulls a grim and complete vision of humanity’s future from seemingly nothing. His range of starfighter models and manoeuvres paints a colourful, thrilling picture, supplemented by gorgeous drawings. The aerial battles are incredible. Each one feels fresh and realistic, choreographed to perfection. Only expected, when you consider that the author is acclaimed for writing innovative magic systems in his more popular fantasy work.
Skyward draws you into the mystery, the revelations, into learning what it’s all about, while remaining a steadfastly character-driven story. Spensa’s a bit much to begin with–you’ll know what I mean when you see it–but I never doubted she would undergo the great, expected hero’s journey. Sure, it’s the predictable modern monomyth, but what if it is? It’s done just as the monomyth should be.
In classic Brandon Sanderson fashion, this is a wholesome girl and her starfighter story. The style is suitable for a wide age range from Middle Grade to adult, and I believe there’s something for everyone to enjoy. But just because the author uses clean language doesn’t preclude tough moments. Sanderson’s not playing around: These kids are fighting a deadly war, and he doesn’t hesitate to remind you of it.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that, thanks to Brandon Sanderson’s mind-boggling writing pace, Starsight will be with us in less than a year. Bring it on.
Long sidenote, who else is shipping Spensa and Jorgen? It’s so obvious, I’m worried that it actually won’t happen, and he’ll be killed off in the opening pages of the next book to let us know not to get too comfortable. I wouldn’t put it past Sanderson. If Skyward is anything to go by, the man has a way with twists.
*Thanks to Orion Publishing Group and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book! All opinions represented remain my own.*