I wouldn’t have started this book in January if it wasn’t for Rafaella @The Portuguese Bibliophile. Thank you, for suggesting to buddy read this book with you, and also thank you for going along with my crazy idea to start it immediately and read 100 pages per day to finish this book in less than a week!
This was my first ever time reading a book with someone else. I’ve never participated in book clubs before, I never did buddy reads. I guess I’ve done some read-a-thons, but most of them have prompts to follow, so everyone was reading different books for the same prompts. And I had so much fun! To be able to discuss the “spoilers” was a lot of fun (and also quite weird in the beginning, as my mind kept saying – those are spoilers! you aren’t supposed to say them out loud!). 😀
«Skyward» was a blast! Last year I read my first Brandon Sanderson book – «Steelheart», the first installment in the Reckoners trilogy (that I also finished last year, woop! woop!) and got a taste of what Brandon Sanderson writing is like. He is funny, he is sarcastic, he creates characters that you want to route for, and most importantly, his endings are the most explosive ones of all fantasy / sci-fi books I’ve ever read.
Going into «Skyward» I knew what to expect, and even then Brandon Sanderson managed to surprise me!
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.
Yet again, Brandon Sanderson created a whole new world full of mysteries – Detritus is a ruined planet where the Defiants landed (crashed?), and since then the human population, split into clans in accordance with different tasks their ancestors performed on the ship – be it the engineers, the scientists, etc., set their camps under the ground of Detritus, to avoid the constant attacks from Krell (mysterious aliens). There are going to be a lot of “mysterious” things in this book!
Spensa Nightshade is from Igneous, the clan closest to the surface. The people of Igneous provide the battleships for the DDF, and without them, it wouldn’t be possible to defend the Defiants from Krell attacks.
WHAT I LIKED:
1 – Detritus, Krell, Defiants and all the mysteries surrounding this world were one of the most engaging things in this book. I absolutely loved the vast world that Brandon Sanderson created, and I feel like Book 2 will shed more light on things – from the main questions of who the Krell actually are? why are they attacking Detritus? and what the h** happened to humankind?! to more specific questions about Spensa and her flight mates. I feel like this world has so much potential, and I’d love to see more stories set in this universe.
2 – Would it be bad to say that my two favorite characters were the two “non-humans”? Because I really loved M-bot and Doomslug! M-bot is an AI and reminded me a lot of AIDEN, but purely because I read «Illuminae» first, which means that any book I read from now on with a funny and at times sarcastic AI will always remind me of AIDEN.
Rafaela mentioned in our conversation that M-bot was better than AIDEN, and I couldn’t really see it until the beginning of book 2. I feel like M-bot is a very crucial character of this story, and from the gibberish nonsense that he sometimes says, I can see hidden deeper meanings to them, that also provide a better and more objective look on the story.
And well, Doomslug is the pet slug I never knew I wanted:
“Well?” I asked Doomslug the Destroyer. “Think it will work?” The little yeallow-and-blue cave slug perked up on the rock nearby. “Work?” she fluted.
3 – At first, I wasn’t convinced I’d like Spensa, but like all very annoying but funny and kind people, I eventually came to like her explosive personality. Spensa is definitely a handful! Especially at the beginning of the story. And while I understand what prompted that shell of hers, I also wanted to strangle her for the most part of the book.
Spensa’s father was killed during the Battle of Alta for his cowardice, and that left a permanent mark on all of the family members. Her mother was denied a job and had to make ends meet, people whispered and side-glanced, offering a cold shoulder to the family of the coward. As a result, Spensa had to grow a thick skin and learn how to fight back. Hence, her absolutely ridiculous speeches:
“We’ll fight so well, the Krell will raise lamentations to the sky like smoke above a pyre, crying in desperation at our advent!”
But at the same time, Spensa could be witty, smart and funny. Kind to those in need and reckless at the worst possible times. Her sense of justice, of right and wrong never failed to surprise me in the most positive way. And her monologues often made me giggle:
“All right, let’s be delicate about this. I could be delicate. I was incredibly delicate. Like, all the time.”
I really loved her friendship with Roger, and how Brandon Sanderson threw all of his focus into Spensa and the rest of the world, avoiding unnecessarily complicated romances and pettiness.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
These are minor complaints and they didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book in any way.
1 – The writing style seemed too simple, at first, but then I gradually got used to it. The first thing I noticed when I started reading the book was how short the sentences were. This wasn’t my first book by Brandon Sanderson. In fact, I haven’t read any of his Adult books yet, but I didn’t have this problem with the Reckoners trilogy.
It required me a couple of chapters to get used to it. I also started reading «Starsight», and currently halfway through it, and feel fine about the writing style there.
2 – The ending and the big reveal weren’t my favorite. Urgh… I said it. I was expecting this BIG BADA BOOM (a quick reference to the Fifth Element), and it was absolutely shocking and unexpecting as all Brandon Sanderson reveals tend to be, but… It felt too unbelievable. And I know! I know I shouldn’t question a reality created in a Sci-Fi book, but I couldn’t help myself!
However, the beginning of the second book explained a lot more things, and I began to actually enjoy it.
Once you read «Skyward» (and maybe «Starsight»), I would recommend to also read «Defending Elysium», a short story set in the same world. I read this after «Skyward» and before «Starsight», and a few comments I saw on GoodReads said that it was alright to read it before the second installment. It definitely has spoilers for «Skyward», so make sure to read it first!
This short story is available on Brandon Sanderson’s website!