Skyward is out right now, on ebook platforms and physical editions!
Skyward is the first of a quadrilogy of books by Brandon Sanderson. This Top Gun/How To Train Your Dragon mashup is a YA sci-fi story that tells the story of Spensa, the daughter of a coward, and her battle against both the alien Krell and the very Defense Force she is trying to fight for.
Until Brandon Sanderson, I was mostly a sci-fi guy, with Brandon being my first foray into fantasy. As such, I was very excited for my first ever Brandon sci-fi (I haven’t read much outside of the Cosmere). Brandon has said before that he doesn’t see much difference in the way he writes his fantasy and his sci-fi, and I have to agree, Skyward is a Brandon Sanderson novel through and through.
I really enjoyed Skyward. I really, really enjoyed it. It’s extremely well paced, there was only ever one moment I felt we were about to get to a boring part but luckily something exciting happened and the book moved onward as brilliantly as before.
The characters of this book are all distinct and easy to like. Spensa is definitely a highlight for me. I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say I think Spensa feels like one of Brandon’s most well fleshed out characters with one of the best arcs out of any of his books previous. If you’ve read the preview chapters, you probably think I’m insane for thinking this but I truly feel this way. The gulf between who Spensa believes she is and who she actually is is massive and the character growth she goes through during the book is amazing. Her struggles to fit in as a teenager is something everyone can identify with and provide a great framework for the rest of the plot. The person Spensa ends the book as is a very very different character to the one she starts out as and I love it.
I found Spensa’s wingmates started a little hard to distinguish to begin with but each one gets enough time to shine eventually--Kimmalyn being a personal favourite of mine. You get a good sense of them, and when they are put through pain, you feel it.
The combat sections throughout the book were fantastic too. Not just because they are written in Brandons cinematic style that make them easy to follow and exciting, but Brandon also does a fantastic job of instilling every combat sequence with a sense of dread. Every time Skyward flight takes to the air, you’ll find yourself filled with a creeping sense of anxiety.
Really, if anything, Skyward is one of the most emotive books Brandon has written. Nearly every other chapter hits you with an emotional impact. There are big character moments and plot reveals, and the book never lets up the pace.
Unfortunately, it’s those plot revelations that I think this book is at its weakest. Skyward starts off by setting up several major mysteries to be answered throughout the book and I unfortunately felt that they didn’t always pay off as well as they could. This may just be because of my incredibly high expectations on Brandon’s worldbuilding but I felt some answers were kind of unsatisfying.
In the end, I came away from Skyward excited for the rest of the series. Not because of the world, but for the characters. The ending makes the book stand on its own, but leaves the series incredibly open for where it could go, and you'd have to be a psychic to try and predict where this series is going. Enjoy your time with Skyward flight, it might not last as long as you first think.