Review: ‘Skyward’ by Brandon Sanderson

I’m a bit late to the Brandon Sanderson party (OK, very late), but have heard so many glowing reports of his work that when this one came up on Netgalley, I leapt at the chance.

At its core, some aspects of the novel’s plot are a sort of mashup between Orson Scott Card’s ‘Ender’s Game’ (an awesome book – more on that soon) and Anne McCaffery’s ‘White Dragon’ (also awesome) – only this time, the dragon is a starship. Pretty simple, perhaps – but Sanderson handles the process with a reassuring confidence and skill.

Don’t think that this book is hackneyed in any way, however; there are some lovely touches of originality that are sure to pleasantly surprise. It’s also not too ‘hard’ SF, which I know can put off some readers; there is obviously talk of tech and flight manoeuvres, but nothing too daunting – even for the YA audience that the book is aimed at.

Where Sanderson seems to especially excel, as far as I can tell from this one example of his work, is in his characterisation. As an actor, I look at (and judge) character a lot; the ‘voice’ of our protagonist, Spensa, is fully-formed, totally relatable, and has a lovely arc of both immutability and change as she grows to adulthood. And imagine my delight when I found two characters in one book that I would gladly play in any adaptation; Cobb, the flight instructor who trains Spensa, has some of the best deadpan one-liners and straight-faced put-downs I’ve read in a long while – closely followed by the sometimes all-too-human neediness of the starship, M-Bot.

‘Skyward’ is the first in what is due to be a quartet, and that makes me very happy; the first novel ended all too soon for my liking – and I can’t wait to jump back in the cockpit and go for another spin.

“As the Saint always said: ‘Good thing it’s light during the day – otherwise we wouldn’t be able to see how pretty daytime is!'”




Spensa’s world has been under attack for hundreds of years. An alien race called the Krell leads onslaught after onslaught from the sky in a never-ending campaign to destroy humankind. Humanity’s only defense is to take to their ships and fight the enemy in the skies. Pilots have become the heroes of what’s left of the human race.
Spensa has always dreamed of being one of them; of soaring above Earth and proving her bravery. But her fate is intertwined with her father’s – a pilot who was killed years ago when he abruptly deserted his team, placing Spensa’s chances of attending flight school somewhere between slim and none.
No one will let Spensa forget what her father did, but she is still determined to fly. And the Krell just made that a possibility. They’ve doubled their fleet, making Spensa’s world twice as dangerous . . . but their desperation to survive might just take her skyward . . .

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I do not get paid for reviews, and received a free copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback.

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