Don’t worry. After this, I won’t be talking about any Sanderson books for a few months. At least not until ‘The Rhythm of War’ comes out later this year.
While I did have my criticisms, I ultimately did enjoy Skyward. It was an enjoyable bit of sci-fi with some strong characters and world-building. So, going into the sequel, I was cautiously optimistic. It seemed like I was in for another fun but a predictable bit of sci-fi fun!
I was wrong. Mostly.
This book kicks off six months after the events of Skyward. The human race has lifted off of Detritus and started work on controlling the planet’s orbital defense systems. Spensa continues to try mastering her powers as a Cytonic, but she’s still yet to have any luck. Worse yet, the Krell have escalated their war with the humans, pushing them against the wall. But opportunity knocks: when a Cytonic alien crashes on Detritus, Spensa is given the coordinates to the Superiority city known as Starsight. With the objective of stealing one of their hyperdrive systems and evacuate the planet, Spensa takes her pet slug and her ship M-Bot to the city for a mission in espionage. But Spensa’s task may be more difficult than she anticipates: not only is she not a great spy but living among the Superiority challenges her very understanding of the war. All the while, a threat beyond anything they’ve ever seen has reared its head towards both sides, threatening to destroy the Superiority and the human race alike.
So yeah. Things are a bit more complex than they were in book one.
Honestly? I don’t like the first few chapters of this book. Not only do they blast past a ton of stuff that could’ve been super interesting to see, but it also introduces some new characters that never appear again for the rest of the book! Worse yet, the pacing of these chapters is far too fast, failing to give the audience enough time to soak any of this new information in. Up until Spensa heads off for her spy mission, everything feels like a big waste of time.
But after that, the story takes a huge rise in quality! All of the new characters introduced are incredibly interesting, insanely likable, and best of all: irreplaceably important to the plot! Sanderson’s signature world-building is on full display as he crafts one of the most diverse and intriguing sci-fi settings I’ve ever experienced! The pacing is slow but perfect, taking all the time it needs for each scene to properly build-up to the finale! Best of all: this book is incredibly surprising, with some shocking twists that genuinely had me gaping!
Let’s start with those characters. Not only do the new members of the cast (the aliens, at least) have entirely unique designs (even if one of if them just looks like Gill from Street Fighter), personalities, and compelling character arcs! They give interesting insights into different alien cultures (Sanderson’s amazing world-building at work) and they play off of Spensa really well! They’re easily the most unique, interesting, and fun members of the entire cast!
Even characters from the first book get some great character development! Granted, only one of them has an actual arc and all the others are just sort of… there. But that character arc is super compelling! Plus, seeing Grammy take on the role of wise mentor is super fun! It gives me hope for the third book.
Now, let’s talk about the book’s world-building. In book one, the setting was restricted to Detritus and humans. This book throws the door open, expanding the setting to a vast universe populated by strange and unique aliens! Each one has their own planet, history, culture, and even facial expressions! It makes the universe feel alive, expansive, and intriguing! I’d happily explore every last inch of this universe!
The ending is also phenomenal! I thought I had it all figured out after the climax! But then things get fucking crazy! No spoilers, but it gets wild! It perfectly sets up the sequel while still wrapping up this book’s story in a satisfying way! Very few plot twists have genuinely surprised me while still making perfect sense!
There are also plenty of memorable images in this book! Spensa floating helplessly in space, the Delver’s appearance in the climax, the various illusions in the maze, and so many others that are more spoiler-heavy all immediately come to mind! They are absolutely stunning! They’re so beautifully described that they paint an amazing picture in your mind! I actually closed my eyes and I could fucking see it!
This book is great! The opening is a bit weak, but it’s a huge step up from the first one! If the third book is as good as this one was after part one, then it’s going to be a fucking blast! It’s a ride that I’ve definitely become invested in!
If you still haven’t read Skyward, I’d recommend doing so. If for no other reason than to read Starsight! It’s an incredible piece of modern science-fiction! It’s an amazing read that I’d absolutely go through again!
And now, I return to staring at a wall and waiting for Stormlight 4.