If you’re looking to be entranced, Skyward by Brandon Sanderson is an exciting read. With a couple of very minor exceptions, this story had me flying into a make-believe world that I didn’t want to come back from.
Spensa, a seventeen-year-old girl, wants to be a pilot who fights against the mysterious race called the Krell. She struggles against the reputation of her father, who was said to have died while fleeing the battlefield. The story begins with her attempt to get into flight school and continues with the tremendous hurdles that Admiral Ironsides puts in her path. Amid Spensa’s journey are attacks from the Krell, a miraculous find of an AI, and the unraveling mystery of the Krell and father’s death.
The story started out as a tad slow but still engaging. When the action kicked in, it was awesome. Put the dogfights in a sky full of ancient space debris, and you have an obstacle course of fantastic action. My next favorite thing after the setting is the believable goals, motivations, and conflicts that Spensa faced. It’s not just Ironsides that she contends with. It’s the full pilots, her peers, and her own struggle with the meaning of the word coward. Her mother says, “…a coward is a person who cares more about what people say than about what is right.” But most of society believes it is better to die gloriously in battle than to eject from the cockpit.
One of the things I had a hard time swallowing was Spensa’s character in the first third of the story. She was supposed to be seventeen but acted more like a pre-teen. I realize teenagers can be rather immature, but Spensa was someone even my own seventeen-year-old daughter would find childish.
The other thing that I couldn’t quite believe was the reappearance of an AI named M-Bot. His first appearance in this setting was plausible, but his second appearance came very near to being a dues ex machina. It wasn’t quite so out of place that it put me off from finishing the story though.
Overall, Skyward is a wonderful adventure. If you love the idea of being a pilot and you are excited by exotic sci-fi worlds, then join Spensa on her journey to claim the stars.