Review of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

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. 

In a nutshell I would describe Skyward as Starship Troopers meets the new Battlestar – two things that I absolutely love!

Character wise it’s a strong set up, although I again find myself a little frustrated at the “class by numbers” approach that seems to have not changed since the era of Breakfast Club – we have the Jock, the ditz, the know it all, and the outsider in the mix – although thankfully the intense nature of learning leaves little time for them to fall fully into established tropes. M-Bot is outstanding though and again, whilst there is little unique about a snarky, sassy and pedantic onboard computer, it’s a characterisation that I adore, I laughed so much reading M-Bot and Spensa’s interactions and the mutual snark of their to and fro’s.

The world building is a little sparse but actually the story doesn’t suffer much from it – which for those who know my reviews will find puzzling as I’m a world building kinda gal. The map is helpful, but I think because of the condensed area in which the majority of the book takes place, less is more works well. The ships themselves are helpfully realised in little artistic flourishes throughout the book and that, combined with the cadet status of Skyward Flight, means that I was never just thrown into something and left struggling to understand, by learning the ships in tandem with the characters it made for a much more satisfying read, as when the battles start the quick fire technical prose make compete sense.

I loved the interludes as well and they presented a great way of changing POV in book dominated by the first person view of Spensa – it also brought a way of leaving helpful nuggets of information that the reader would otherwise have not been able to glean. They give a small breather as the space battles are nothing short of epic. it’s a real skill to get a reader to actual feel what is going on but I was able to visualise every aspect with such clarity – the time and effort taken to guide the reader through the finer points in an engaging way paid off in abundance.  and by the closing stages of the book I found I had grown so attached the the characters and the situation that I got quite emotional as things built to a crescendo.

Skyward is a fantastic read and in all honesty I think all fans of sci-fi would love this book, yes it’s YA but but for the most part it doesn’t feel like it and if you loved the new Battlestar you will find a ton to love in this, especially with the mythology of the closing stages. 500 pages went in a flash for me, it was that good!

Unsurprisingly Skyward gets 5*

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