Brandon Sanderson shoots for the stars in Skyward, the first entry of his sci-fi adventure, and absolutely aces the takeoff.
Is there anything better than a new book release from your favourite author?
Ok, I have to admit though. I am not a huge fan of sci-fi books, and as such avoid them where possible. I will however make exceptions for my favourite authors, and Brandon Sanderson is right at the pinnacle of that list. Still, I had my doubts, this being a space opera.
*gives doubting self a reproving glare in the mirror
This is Brandon Sanderson guys – there is no need to doubt. A few frantic reading sessions later I can excitedly confirm, the master of fantasy, Brandon Sanderson, has brought his particular brand of AWESOMENESS to the sci-fi genre as well.
Spensa (callsign: Spin) dreams of being a starfighter pilot for the Defiant Defense Force. The DDF’s main objective: To defend the planet Detritus from the Krell, aliens determined to destroy humankind. She has studied for years to make her dream come true and knows every possible answer that she may need to pass the flight school test that ensures admittance to the pilot training program. If fate had dealt her a different hand, she would not even have to write the test, but would receive automatic acceptance into the school on grounds of being the daughter of one of the heroes of the Battle of Alta. Her father (callsign: Chaser) was one of, if not the DDF’s best pilot , when the famous fight took place. During the battle however, he inexplicably lost his nerve and tried to flee the fight to save his own hide and was consequently shot down by his own team to discourage any other pilot from following his example.
His branding as a coward, and the stigma allotted to his family by association ensured a tough upbringing for Spensa, making her goal of becoming a pilot akin to the punishment of Sisyphus. The deck is stacked against her – there are few who have any respect for the daughter of a craven, and many who do not want her to succeed. She is obstinately determined though to fulfill her destiny – she will pass the flight school test and become one of the best pilots in the fleet, thereby restoring her family name. And then in the middle of her mission to succeed she makes a monumental discovery that could change her life completely, but also change the course for the entire war effort for good…a starship of unknown design with an AI built-in.
As is the norm with this author, the story is very well written. This might be labeled as YA, but I found my enjoyment at the same level as any of his other works and would ignore the label entirely. Some of my favourite narrative devices are present, in a prologue that skips a number of years forward at the first chapter and a lost history where no-one really knows much about what happened in the past. Pacing is brisk and the Sanderson avalanche is present, although not at a Stormlight Archive intensity in my opinion. It does not take anything away from the gripping ending though and should not dissuade anyone from reading this either. World-building is wonderful once again. Sanderson is just… a genius. Characterization is complex and fun, I loved the protagonist, the growth she exhibits throughout and had an easy time enjoying reading about every major and minor character in Skyward. Especially MBot 🙂
“…human beings need someone friendly to listen to them when they’re grieving. So feel free to talk to me. I will be friendly. You have nice shoes.”
“Is that the only thing you notice about people?”
“I’ve always wanted shoes. They’re the sole piece of clothing that makes any sense, assuming ideal environmental conditions. They don’t play into your strange and nonsensical taboos about not letting anyone see your—”
“Is this really the only thing you can think of to comfort someone who is grieving?”
“It was number one on my list.” Great.
“The list has seven million entries. Do you want to hear number two?”
“Is it silence?”
“That didn’t even make the list.”
“Move it to number two.”
“All right, I . . . Oh.”
As for the magic-system… it’s actually non-existent this time. Whaaaaatttt???, I know, I know, but taking its place are all sorts of fascinating rules governing starfighter movement and fighting and as expected Sanderson brings these to life with vivid imagery easily relayed. Lastly, as with many other Sanderson books, this one also features important themes, touching on fulfillment, self-realization and identity.
Yup, it’s a Sanderson book through and through, which should make every fan rejoice.
This one did. Repeatedly.
Reviewed by Eon
Skyward will be released on November 6th 2018. I loved both the UK cover and US cover for this book, so a shout out to the immensely talented Sam Green and Charlie Bowater for your amazing artwork.
I was lucky enough to be provided an ARC from the publisher, Gollancz, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity.