Whilst I have the time to catch up on some outstanding book reviews, I’m making the most of the situation and sharing some of my favourites. Today, I share my thoughts on the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s YA sci-fi series, Skyward.
I have a lot of great things to say about this book! At the time of publishing this review, I’ve read three out of the four books currently on the market. I’ll be looking to pick up the next in the series, Defiant, very soon!
Skyward – Brandon Sanderson
Audience: Young Adult
Publication Date: 06 Nov 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.
Skyward has an interesting plot that sucks you in from the synopsis. In truth though, there is far more to explore underneath the surface.
The narrative in which we explore through Spensa’s viewpoint is far more complex than meets the eye. The world history, Spensa’s upbringing and the discovery of a mysterious ship only start us off on this detailed, action-packed narrative. Although we pick up events from Spensa’s discovery onwards, in reality the set up of what happens in this book begins far earlier, and we unravel this history throughout the present day narrative.
As a military sci-fi, fans of combat will have plenty to enjoy in this book. We graduate alongside Spensa through training into live fighting. The drama and suspense keeps us on our toes as we never quite trust that the characters we grow to love throughout the book are safe. They’re not…
Science fiction fans will not be disappointed with the rich descriptions and detail in Skyward. Both in terms of the physical setting and the political environment Spensa grows up in, there is plenty to explore.
Skyward excels in its ability to stand out in the science fiction genre without too much techno-babble and jargon. As a book aimed at young readers, it’s especially important that Sanderson got this right… and indeed he did! I enjoy science fiction, although I wouldn’t say I have the brains for too much techy speak. I was able to follow everything with ease.
What makes this book extra special is that over time, we come to realise that the world and plot introduced throughout the first 400-450 pages is just a small speck in the galaxy. Skyward paves the way for the epic series it is, and sets the scene for the remaining books excellently!
The book is predominantly told from the perspective of a teenager who has grown up in the shadow of her father. His name is tarred for turning against his fleet in the midst of battle. Many try to discount Spensa and prevent her from training to fly out of fear that she will do the same thing as her father.
And in fairness, Spensa is a loose cannon. She is impulsive and independent, which are not traits conducive to an environment where teamwork is essential. Spensa has a lot to learn over the course of the book, about herself, but also about the perceptions that have tarnished her name throughout her childhood.
Whilst the book does well in sharing a detailed plot with rich descriptions, character development is also very prevalent in this narrative. I would say the book has a reasonable 50-50 split of both of these elements. Whether you prefer an action driven narrative or a character driven narrative, there is ample of each.
With a young adult audience in mind, the narrative needs to be easy to read and approachable for a younger audience. Brendan Sanderson does this very well. This makes both the book and genre approachable to new or less developed readers and would serve as a great introduction to the genre.
At over 500 pages, there is plenty of storyline here to sink our teeth into. It has its fair share of twists and unexpected events. These are entwined into the narrative seamlessly and are shocking but not so complex but they cannot be understood either.
If you are looking for a new sci-fi series to start reading without complex jargon, and with a strong female protagonist, Skyward is one I would highly recommend. As of this post, I have gone on to read further two books in the series, with the fourth book recently out and making it to my reading list soon!
Brandon Sanderson is an author I will go back to time and again regardless of genre. If you are a fan of his fantasy books, don’t let the change of genre put you off giving this a try. He is a fantastic writer and being able to lend himself to different storylines, and indeed genre.
Have you read the Skyward or any other books by Brandon Sanderson that you would love to recommend to my readers?