Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
Brandon Sanderson is one of my absolute favorite authors. His writing, characters, and magic systems are second to none. You’d be hard pressed finding another author who can churn out as many high quality novels as he does. Skyward is no exception. Though Skyward is a young adult novel and is not set in the Cosmere, Skyward has a lot of offer long time fans and new fans alike.
The main character, Spensa, is a young woman trying to find her place in a society where everyone has a part to play. Spensa has already been assigned her role and it’s not something she wants for herself. Living in the shadow of her father’s transgression, Spensa is energetic, brash, and an idealist. Spensa shows her young age throughout the novel with her actions and thought process. Her defiance makes her a joy to read, but also made me wish she had more tact at times. She’s by no means a perfect protagonist, but who wants that anyway?
Skyward is a lot of fun. Readers get to tag a long as Spensa learns to become a pilot and discovers the truth about her father, herself, and the planet she lives on. In true Sanderson fashion, he pulls the rug from underneath readers in a wholly and completely unexpected fashion. You think you know where the story is going, but you have no idea what Sanderson has in store for you.
The only criticism I have of the novel is that almost all the characters aren’t as fleshed out as Spensa. This is partly due to the actual plot and the way Sanderson set up Spensa’s education. I both enjoyed and wished for more time with both aspects of Spensa’s life: her time in pilot school and her time repairing the ship.
All I’ll say about her adventure repairing the ship is that it’s some of the best moments in the book. These moments are interesting in terms of their world building, hilarious comedic beats that lessen the darkness that slowly creeps in with each passing chapter, and lay important groundwork for where the story is going in the sequel, Starsight. I cannot wait to see the insanity that will be Starsight!
Overall, Skyward is one of the best books I’ve read in 2018 and would not hesitate recommending it to anyone. It’s full of action, intrigue, and features a spitfire main character.