“You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.”
Skyward is the start of a brand-new YA Sci-Fi series by Brandon Sanderson. You all know that I love Brandon Sanderson’s work, especially The Stormlight Archive and Mistborn, and I knew I couldn’t let this new release pass me by without immediately reading. And, friends, this was nothing short of a treat.
This book follows a young girl named Spensa, who wants nothing more than to follow in her father’s footsteps of being a space pilot and defending her home planet from an alien race called the Krell, who are relentless in their attacking. Unfortunately, her father did something unforgivable and the rest of her community truly will never forget.
“People need stories, child. They bring us hope, and that hope is real.”
Spensa lives in future version of our galaxy, on a planet named Detritus. But most of the inhabitants live underground, while only a few cities are above. And in this society people’s job positions are supposed to be based off their test scores that will influence them into learning their strengths, but we soon find out that pilots are mostly found based on their family lineage.
Brandon Sanderson really talks about privilege and how outside forces can really impact a person’s life, while a last name can completely make someone’s future. Spensa learns this very quickly, but she is still determined to not only go to flight school, but to graduate at the top of her class, regardless of the people who are willing to do anything to stop her.
And Spensa has to go through some really horrible stuff. No spoilers, but even her family is forced to live off of rats, while never being able to see the sky, but living in fear of a lifetime war that never ceases. But Spensa’s determination is awe-inspiring, but she soon realizes that flight school is completely ruthless and very deadly.
“It turns out that strange little girls grow up to be strange young women.”
Yet, one of the best characters I’ve read all year is easily Spensa. She not only makes you feel immense empathy because of her situation, but just because she’s a little girl that has only known war. She’s passionate, she’s caring, she’s so very dedicated. And she’s hilariously funny. This book made me laugh out loud so many times. But mostly, I was rooting for her from the first to the last page. And she really showcases that everyone has a choice, regardless of the things that life has forced upon them, and regardless of the mistakes of their parents. She was such a wonderful character, and a shining light in 2018’s protagonists.
And I loved the constant discussion of what makes a coward and what makes a hero. And about all those grey areas in between those things. And how a different view can really turn those two titles upside down completely. Spensa also meets many new colleagues, some of which who are also chasing the same dream as her, and some who have had it forced upon them. And dare I say, there is a start of an enemies to lovers relationship in this book? Lord, help me. I am already invested!
But my heart truly belongs to M-Bot, the AI-driven ship that Spensa finds. A lot of people have compared this book to How To Train Your Dragon and that is so damn accurate, but I actually think I loved M-Bot even more than Toothless. (And that is quite the recommendation, friends!) I also think I just have a soft spot in my heart for sentient ships, if I’m being completely honest. But I have no doubts that if you pick up this book that you will fall in love with M-Bot, too.
Okay, so even though I loved this reading experience so much, and I truly think Brandon Sanderson comes up with the best worlds in SFF, two things bothered me about this book. One is a character death, and I won’t go into spoilers, but if you know me at all, you’ll know why this upset me. And Brandon should have done better. Secondly, the ending was a masterpiece. Yeah, you read that right. The ending was magnificent, but it truly overshadowed the rest of the book and made it feel like the 500 pages I just read were some precursor to the actual story that will begin in book two.
“Claim the stars, Spensa.”
Overall, I did adore this book. It was just what I needed. I actually was feeling really slumpy before I picked this up, and not only did it rectify that, but it reminded me why I love books and stories and fictional worlds so much. I know Brandon Sanderson isn’t for everyone, but he truly is a master at his craft and every book and series he touches turns to gold. And his world-building is honestly on a tier above all else in the genre. And, again, I cannot wait for book two. And I cannot wait to learn everything about a certain blue and orange slug.
Content and trigger warnings for bullying, loss of a loved one, battle scenes, and war themes.