Skyward is the first story in the Skyward saga by Brandon Sanderson. Spoiler Free Summary: Spensa has wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a pilot since she was a child. Unfortunately, her father is the world’s most famous traitor. He turned on his wing during an alien attack. These creatures have oppressed her planet for years, and the pilots are the ones who protect her world’s way of life. When everyone else seems to be against her even training to be a pilot, her father’s old wing mate gives her the chance she’s always wanted. However, the truth of her father’s death and the key to the aliens attacking her might prove she never should take a cockpit.
Character: Unlike Rithmatist or Steelheart (which are other YA books by Sanderson), I had to sort of turn off the adult in my brain. If I do that, Spensa is a wonderful character. Honestly, she’s just young. She’s a well-written and designed character, and she’s perfect for YA, but her thoughts and motives are a little less mature than Sanderson’s usual work. It’s still better than most YA I’ve read, but it’s probably more suited for younger readers. She’s quirky. She has a personality trait I personally find endearing. It reminds me of Sir Didymus from Labyrinth.
Exposition: Despite the first-person narrative, this story didn’t drag down too much. Sure, there was the inevitable “conversation” that established world history. There’s a backstory that might slow things down in there, but this story was a much-needed, highly-anticipated quick-read for yours truly. It moves at a perfect pace that made it hard to put down.
Worldbuilding: This has all the usual hallmarks of a great Sanderson saga. As the plot unfolds, we learn more and more about the people on the planet (and then the aliens above). Most of this story builds on the history and culture of the humans, but I hope the rest of the series expands on this universe. The book sort of feels like Top Gun meets How to Train Your Dragon.
Dialogue: As is usual in any Sanderson novel, the quick-witted, snappy dialogue helps move the plot along. It constantly impresses me the number of different personality quirks Sanderson can emphasize just in how he writes their dialogue. This books is something I’d recommend for anyone struggling to make a character sound distinct.
Description: I felt like this story had less description that usual. I’m not normally one to harp on this subject, but I would have appreciated a bit more from Sanderson on this, especially in distinguishing the lower levels of the planet from the surface. If I have a knock on this story, it’s here.
Overall: I’d say this is my favorite book of the year so far. I’ll also admit this year has been a bit tough regarding my reading. This book is good, and I did enjoy it, but I don’t know how it would hold up against any of my top three from last year. I say that to give some context. I’d say very good, but not great. It’s absolutely a fun read. It still has Sanderson’s usual charm, but it ended on a high note that has me hopeful for the series overall.
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