Review of Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

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.

Starsight had a lot to live up to, I read Skyward as my last book of 2018 and it flew right in a snagged a spot for one of my top ten reads of the year. Whilst they are part of the same series, they are in fact very different types of stories and I’m finding it hard to draw comparisons. Where Skyward had a focus and a goal; Spensa wanted to be taken seriously as a pilot, Starsight felt a little lost at times. That isn’t to say that made it a bad book, indeed this is 4 star read for me, but I think it was just so different from Skyward that it threw me a little to start.

Spensa finds herself quickly in a new and strange situation and equally a new cast of characters, the blurb feels deliberately vague and I’ll try and keep this as vague as I can. Spensa is faced with an opportunity to learn more about what she is facing and finds herself on a very different side of the coin on the Space Station Starsight. As before, there are some wonderful illustrations within the book and I really liked the depiction of Starsight at the start of the story as it really helped me to visualise it the way that the author intended. Spensa finds herself in the middle of all sorts of intrigue and private politics which need to be carefully traversed whilst carrying out her own covert plans.  Through this we get to see a new side to Spensa, one where her recklessness must take a back seat and it’s clear she’s out of her depth when it comes to diplomatic relations, which are only heightened by her paranoia. Her childlike wonder though at being shown a world outside is well done, there is also a lot of thought put into gender and acceptance of practices and ideals that are at odds with what she has grown up to believe on such a sheltered planet. The Interludes present a nice break away from Spensa’s narrative and it allows a glimpse of what is happening back on Detritus and it gives a bit more depth to Jorgen. I feel like his moments are really paving the way for a dual POV in the next book, his development certainly takes an interesting turn, and honestly we all need a Gran Gran in our lives, even if she is feeling more and more like Yoda.

When I started reading, I have to admit I did struggle to feel the same level of excitement with this book. Skyward had me turning the pages non stop, but I found Starsight easy to put down. I was hoping for more Starship Troopers style shenanigans more of the great banter, but at times the story became repetitive with Spensa’s internal monologue and endless practice runs The types of personalities within her new found flight also felt disjointed with little in the way of squad goals. It didn’t feel like the adventure that I had signed up for and I don’t think Spensa was really able to pull off so much of the story on her own. I do love a rag tag squad but there was too much mistrust this time to make them cohesive and it would have benefited from being more of an ensemble piece.

By the last 100 pages or so though I felt like I was back on familiar territory, back with the epic space battles, the frantic pace and the level of excitement and trepidation I had been hoping for all along. It felt like Spensa finally had to grow up and deal with consequences rather than just fighting through them. I realise that I have made the middle of the book sound terrible and that’s not the case, there is a lot to enjoy and there are certainly characters that I grew to love and it was great to move away from the Star Trek trope of all aliens being vaguely humanoid in appearance. Starsight itself is wonderfully created and it’s inhabitants are vibrant and diverse which makes Spensa’s task all the harder.

This was an enjoyable but very different continuation of the series which still pulled me in enough to carry on with the series!

4*

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