Hello humans! it’s time for my spot on the Skyward Blog tour! There are some amazing other bloggers on this tour so I urge you all to go and check out each post!
Small confession to make – I’ve never read any Brandon Sanderson before. I know. Shameful. I don’t know whether it was a timing thing, or a covers thing or something else entirely, but I never thought they would be books that would interest me. But since I’m now friends with some amazing humans who love his books I thought it was about time I followed their advice and read something he had written. Maybe I was making a mistake by choosing a science fiction novel written by someone so well known for fantasy, but who said reading was about making good decisions?
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. My first foray into the world of Sanderson. And?
I freaking loved it.
I mean this book pretty much hit every note for me, unlikely female heroines struggling against their fate, competition between students, training montages, talking spaceships and so much more. Once I was around three chapters in I was already telling my spouse that they are absolutely going to love it (talking spaceships are their jam). Conceptually this book is just fantastic (please read that in the voice of the ninth doctor so we keep this sci-fi feel going).
Spensa, what a character. I mean. I know I read a lot of books where heroines have to struggle against the odds to get what they want, but what I adored about Spensa is that she doesn’t let it turn her into a miserable character, nor does it feel like a quest for revenge (though I suppose in part it is) because she’s caught up in the dream of flying. It’s like when you talk to someone about something they’re passionate about (you get it a lot when people are mid-thesis) and they just light up from within, that’s how Spensa feels as a character.
I’ve mentioned the concept but I think it’s worth delving deeper into the setting because it captured my imagination. A couple of years ago I started work on the beginnings of an idea for a subterranean world and I don’t think I can write it now because this was so much better than I could have written it. Sanderson manages to write the cave systems and the world that humans have managed to make out of the scraps that they salvage feel incredibly rich and detailed. To be honest, that’s even more of a feat considering that a lot of the action takes place in quite distinct places, this isn’t exactly an explore-y book. But you still get the impression that you’re reading a hugely detailed world and that always impresses me.
Relationships between characters were particularly of interest to me since this is obviously setting up for more books, you want to know who you like and dislike (so that your mind can be changed and your heart broken – you know how it is) quite early on. I thought that the mix of people that Spensa trains with (her flight) was very interesting, none of them felt too predictable or tropey (well, maybe one, but I’m thinking they’ll be tricksy in later books) and I liked the way they interacted and developed throughout the book.
I would not be surprised if some of the inspiration for this came from Battlestar Galactica which I’m very slowly watching my way through. Some of the situations these characters end up in and the ethical questions posed regarding things like the sanctity of life vs reputation or resources or similar really reminded me of the TV series. Perhaps this is just a sci-fi thing and I need to read more? I don’t know they felt very alike to me and that is a strong compliment.
Broadly speaking, I had a great time reading this. It felt like just the right blend of fun adventure YA and ethical philosophical science fiction (though that could be because I’d just finished Rejoice so anything lighter than that would be a relief). This is a book I’d gladly recommend to a number of friends – including you!
My rating: 5/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Which Sanderson book should I read next? Let me know in the comments below!