“Tremble and fear, all enemies!” he shouted. “For we shall shake the air with thunder and blood! Your doom is imminent!”
Let's talk about this gorgeous cover. Gorgeous, but very misleading. Because from the cover it looks like a main character might be, ohh I don't know a 25 year old woman, while in reality Spensa is a 17 year old who acts as if she were 12 most of the time. The whole book is very juvenile, really. In fact it reads more juvenile than The Rithmatist did, so while this is marketed as young adult it's definitely more on par with books like Percy Jackson. Which there is nothing wrong with, I just prefer Brandon Sanderson's adult novels.
“You get to choose who you are. Legacy, memories of the past, can serve us well. But we cannot let them define us. When heritage becomes a box instead of an inspiration, it has gone too far.”
Before I go on any further I must say that the whole time I was reading Skyward I was thinking of Ender's Game. The atmosphere, the issues, the fleet of adolescents training to be deadly pilots, adults who think they know what they are doing but really don't - it's all really, really similar. I'm not complaining as both are great, but I am a bit let down by this. I was just expecting a whole lot more here. To me this book, while great in its own way, feels like a very watered down version of what Sanderson can actually do. Also for some reason I thought this was a stand alone?? Jokes on me, I know.
“I’d be offended if I could be offended,” he said. “Maybe I should start calling you a cow, since you have four limbs, are made of meat, and have rudimentary biological mental capacities.”
Spensa is not the easiest mc to like, but it's really not her fault. It's the way she was raised, it's the way the society around her thinks and operates. Spensa is forever branded as a daughter of a coward, and thus her only goal is to prove that her father wasn't a coward, and that she isn't going to turn into one either. Cowardice and bravery are basically the only things on Spensa's mind, obviously after her thirst to be a pilot, and the way she sees everything in black and white can get really annoying something. At some points I just wanted to pick her up and shake all of those stupid beliefs from her head.
The culture in which Spensa grew up has taught her that bravery is good and that all those who aren't brave are cowards. She lives by these words, often imagining herself as a nightly and brave warrior lurching for battle - and yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds. For a good half of the book it's really hard to take Spensa seriously at all. She does grow in her character and starts to question the world and her beliefs, eventually. It just takes her painfully long.
The side characters are nicely flushed out, Kimmalyn being definitely my favorite, bless her stars. But nobody is as hilarious as M-Bot is, Sanderson has an uncanny ability to create funny and sarcastic sidekicks. And one in this book is no exception. FM was a pretty good character too, I loved her quiet rebellion. And she definitely had one of the best lines in the whole book.
“Just because I want change doesn’t mean I’ll let the Krell destroy us all. But do you realize what it’s doing to our society to train our children, practically from birth, to idealize and glorify fighting? To worship the First Citizens like saints? We should be teaching our children to be more caring, more inquisitive—not only to destroy, but to build.”
The pacing was good, the plot, while not original in the least was still very engaging, and dialog obviously is superb as it usually is with Sanderson. But for me Skyward lacked something - a spark, a twist. I don't know, but it was definitely too smooth and too easy. I'm hoping book 2 whenever that comes out (the draft is 100% finished for it I just checked) brings out the big guns!