Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — book review

Untitled drawing.jpg

I more or less inhaled this book.

“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.”

This is easily my favourite book by Brandon Sanderson. A few years ago I read and was deeply impressed by his epic-fantasy novel Elantris…so I can sort of understand why some die-hard Sanderson fans might not find Skyward to be as intricate or as profound as his adult fiction.
Personally, however, I found Skyward to be a pure blast.

Within the first few chapters I fell unabashedly in love with this novel. This is undoubtedly thanks to Spensa Nightshade, also known as Spin. Her first-person narration is completely unreserved and utterly entertaining.
Growing up as the daughter of “the coward”, Spensa is desperate to prove herself. The planet in which she was born and raised is constantly under attack from the Krell. To survive humans have built communities underground. Pilots, who are considered to be the elite of this new society, train and live on a base on the ground surface of this planet where they try to defend themselves, and the rest of humanity, from the Krell’s attacks.

To become a pilot is no small feat. Many are killed or leave before their training is complete.
Spensa however is keen to fly and kill some Krell. Her reputation however makes her a persona non grata at the base so not only she has to catch up to the teammates who were raised by pilots, and have been training since they were born, but as the daughter of “the coward” she also has to put up with many other disadvantages. Time and again she struggles between wanting to prove to others and to herself that she is no coward and surviving. In a community which glorifies self-sacrifice and violence it isn’t easy to reconcile oneself with notions of courageousness and cowardice.

Spensa was an extremely likeable character. Her propensity for dramatic and grisly declarations (such as: “When you are broken and mourning your fall from grace, I will consume your shadow in my own, and laugh at your misery”) might make her seem somewhat ridiculous but we soon realise that being constantly seen and treated in the light of her father’s actions has made her this way.
She was funny, brave, and surprisingly vulnerable. Sanderson does a great job with her character arc. Spensa soon realises that to be a pilot is not all about being brave.
The dynamics she has with the rest of her team are compelling and entertaining as I found all of the characters to be just as nuanced as Spensa. Sanderson reveals some of the fears and desires that have shaped or are shaping who they are and what they want. There are no good or bad people and being a hero is not all that’s cracked up to be. Some characters retain a sense of mystery, which makes them all the more intriguing.

The action is more or less non-stop. It vaguely reminded of certain mecha anime (except we have ships instead of giant robots). The fight scenes, which were intense and adrenaline-fuelled, kept me on the edge of my seat.
The world-building and society imagined by Sanderson are interesting and richly detailed. He keeps quite a few card close to his chest, so that readers, alongside Spensa, are always left wanting to know more about the Krell and the circumstances that landed a human ship on this planet.

Perhaps my favourite thing about this book was the relationship Spensa has with a certain M-Bot. Their conversations were a pure delight to read. I was also pleasantly surprised by the sort of friendship she forms with a certain Jerkface.

The only thing I would have liked to have been different is a certain revelation towards the end. Part of me wishes it could have been more showing and less telling. Still, that was a very minor thing in an otherwise faultless novel.

Final verdict:
I loved this novel and I have already bought a copy of Starsight as I can’t wait to be reunited with Spensa&co !

My rating: ★★★★✰ 4.5 stars (rounded up)

Read more reviews on my blog / / / View all my reviews on Goodreads

Blood Echo: Book Review


Blood Echo
by Christopher Rice

★★✰✰✰ 2 stars

I really enjoyed Bone Music, its action oriented plot made for thrilling read. Both Charlotte and Luke showed some actual character growth, and I came to like them both.
Sadly, Blood Echo is merely an echo of its predecessor. The beginning of this novel was promising enough, but it turns out that Charlotte’s hunt for a ‘serial killer’ was merely an appetiser and not the full course meal. The action-packed start leads to a long-winded back and forth between various characters.
This book consists in characters bickering and/or arguing with one another about the most inane things. I get that ‘tension run high’ when you are leading, or part of, a secret operation that could revolutionise the world as we know it but why waste precious time rehearsing the same arguments?! Cole, Charlotte, and Luke (as well as a lot of the side characters) will have these stupid ‘power struggles’ where one character feels the need to assert his or her authority over another character. There will be character A who says something along the lines of “you don’t want to mess with me” and character B will give a stupid reply like “is that a threat?
I wouldn’t have minded as much if these arguments made 1) sense 2) advanced the plot 3) revealed something about a character. But they don’t! They just came across as ‘pissing contests’ and they make up the MAJORITY of this forking narrative. What happened to the actual story?Is there a story? N-O! We just have characters questioning each other about every other sentence they say making each ‘conversation’ almost never-ending, they almost seem to parrot one another.
I grew tired of how stupid the characters were and Cole, who happens to have a bigger role in this book, was such a disappointment. I was hoping that his having the ‘limelight’ would show what sort of personality/history/character he has but no such luck. Towards the end he recounts a traumatic event in such a ‘I’m such a hard-core guy now‘ way that made what could have been a potentially emotional/distressing scene as flat as a pancake.
Charlotte and Luke seem to regress, becoming more immature by the sentence.

Overall, not only was this was a huge let down but it also made me dislike the characters and world I’d previously loved in Bone Music.

Read more reviews on my blog

View all my reviews