Spoiler free summary: In Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson, Spensa is trapped in the Nowhere, which, as it turns out, is somewhere. It’s a strange place composed of various fragments from various planets. Spensa must travel a path that will help her unlock her powers, but each step forward brings her closer to the Delvers she’s trying to defeat.
Character: Spensa and M-Bot have always been a cute duo. This book takes their relationship with readers to a new level. There is one particular scene in this book that down-right forced a tear (just one mind you) from my eye. It’s one of those horrific moments where you realize what’s about to happen, but you’re helpless to do anything about it. We meet other characters who are equally charming. These characters are why the series is so strong, but it’s not what make the book special.
Exposition: For a third book in a series, this book doesn’t have the inordinate amount of exposition one would expect. Given how much I read in that universe before this book came out (see my previous reviews on Sunreach and ReDawn), I think I just kind of mentally skimmed over it. Given the worldbuilding, there is a lot of dialogue-based exposition, but it’s spaced out in a manner that keeps the pace moving.
Worldbuilding: This is what sets this book above others. This book reveals not just a more expansive universe, but also a historical aspect that’s really intriguing. For me, just this worldbuilding wouldn’t have been enough. To be blunt, the plot line is essentially a travelogue through the history of this universe. So while interesting, it’s not compelling to me. However, this connected with compelling characters (and a few other bits of mystery) really flesh out what would otherwise have been a flat (if still enjoyable) read.
Dialogue: Sanderson reminds me of Koontz in how his dialogue can seem witty and fun. It’s a style I try to emulate. This only happens when the characters are well established. Spensa’s relationship with M-Bot remind me a lot of Buffy’s relationship with Xander. I’m not really sure why, but it does. There’s a element of innocence mixed with admiration (though not romantic in this case) that I find lovely. The playfulness is charming, too. That tear moment I mentioned above, that was in dialogue. It all came together well. Yes, the inevitable “teacher” shows up, and that individual has to give all the expositional data on how the Nowhere works, but it’s still presented in a charming fashion.
Description: While I was happy with the description in the story, I think, perhaps, hard scifi fans might be disappointed. It’s a balance I don’t worry over too much, but it exists. I saw what I needed to see. Sanderson unlocked my imagination and let it do the rest. I feel like scifi fans want more. They want to see what the author sees, where as I just want to see enough to let my mind do the rest of the work. I’ll probably blog about that in the future. Regardless, I was happy.
Overall: This book is equally underrated as Redawn is. I’m honestly hard pressed to put one above the other, but I’d give this book a slight edge. This series is better than the average YA book series out there. It’s fresher than the Divergents and Hunger Games, and also less dark even though it’s still dystopian and still has some deep content to consider. Frankly, I still think this series should get some Hugo consideration.
Thanks for reading,