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Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Discussion in 'Books and Anime Discussion' started by Joe, Nov 20, 2018.

  1. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Anyone read Sanderson's latest? Solid YA Sci-Fi.

    I heartily recommend it. Here's the link to the book on his site.

    And here's the blurb:

    From Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Reckoners series, the Stormlight Archive, and the internationally bestselling Mistborn series, comes the first book in an epic new series about a girl who dreams of becoming a pilot in a dangerous world at war with an alien race called the Krell.

    Spensa’s world has been under alien attack for decades. Pilots are the heroes of what’s left of humanity, and becoming a pilot is Spensa’s dream. Ever since she was a little girl, Spensa has dreamed of soaring skyward and proving her bravery. But her father’s legacy stands in the way—he was a pilot who was killed for desertion years ago, branding Spensa the daughter of a coward, and making her chances of attending flight school slim to none.

    Spense is still determined to fly—even if it means she must be as resilient in the face of long odds as humanity itself has had to be against the alien threat. And her accidental discovery in a long forgotten cavern might just grant her a way to claim the stars.

    ****

    I didn't click with the main character through the first third of the book, and you'll see why, but once he hits his stride Sanderson knocks this one out of the park.

    For those who follow Sanderson's work, this is non-cosmere. It's his best non-cosmere book.

    I loved it.
     
  2. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    One of you bastards read this book because I want to discuss it.
     
  3. Seratin

    Seratin SwoleTroll ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Dude, R2D2 and Pokemon are both out. Give the community a second.
     
  4. Glimmervoid

    Glimmervoid Groundskeeper

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    I listened to the audio book. Very much enjoyed it. I hadn't read the novella this was a sequel to, so I'm not sure how much that effected anything, but the action was cool, the mystery interesting and I didn't see the ending twist coming.

    Spensa's supervillain monologues were fun but I'm note entirely convinced Sanderson pulled it entirely off. M-Bot's weirdness worked better, I think. The audio book gave him a Scottish accent to go with his fungus obsession, which I think worked very well.

    Overall, I think this book worked as a cool self-contained story but I am a bit worried how book2 will continue it. I don't see how much of what made this book so good (Top gun flight school, the mystery, the secret super ship) can carry over to a sequel, but we'll see.
     
  5. Joe

    Joe The Reminiscent Exile ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    I was gonna make an oblivious Star Wars joke but you actually wrote R2D2 and ruined it. :(

    Heh. M-Bot with a Scottish accent definitely fits the narrative. I was gonna re-read but may listen instead.

    I think there's great potential in a sequel or five, knowing Sanderson. Lot of world above to explore. Deeper into the defect and the ancient creatures with stars for eyes.
     
  6. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Audiobook is on my Christmas list. I'm really looking forward to it. Sanderson writes some good YA, despite my overall disappointment with Reckoners' anticlimactic bullshit Mormon-y ending.
     
  7. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Finished it.

    The way the reveal at the end came about was some of the most phoned-in dross Sanderson has ever written.

    I mean... come on, Brandon. You rail so hard against show-don't-tell in your literature lectures, and then end the novel with Spensa literally fucking debriefing everyone (including the reader) about the true nature of the aliens. SMH.

    That said, I really enjoyed the rest. Sanderson's portrayal of Spensa as a tough girl was a bit too try-hard, but I have a soft spot for that archetype, so I can forgive some of the more cringy bits (which were very cringey). Also, I think she felt like a real person, which is more than can be said for most of Sanderson's female chars. Though as evidenced by Shallan and Jasnah getting fleshed out over time, it seems like he's working hard to correct this particular weakness.

    M-bot was fantastic; the wry, blunt humor was very effective, and evocative of some of my favorite sci-fi writers.

    I mostly enjoyed the dogfights / flight school bits, despite the prose there being even more repetitive than the technical bits of Reckoners.

    All in all a very strong showing for a YA novel. Looking forward to the sequel (which is apparently already written holy fuck).
     
  8. KHAAAAAAAN!!

    KHAAAAAAAN!! Troll in the Dungeon ~ Prestige ~ DLP Supporter

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    Starsight is out.

    I really dislike how Sanderson writes his YA prose. He frequently repeats expository details, sometimes dropping the same factoid multiple times per chapter. Don't underestimate the intelligence of your teenage readers. Most of them are likely going to be at least somewhat well-read if they're delving into scifi/fantasy.

    That said, everything else about the book is pretty good.
     
  9. Majube

    Majube Auror

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    Starsight ends on a huge cliffhanger, very unsatisfying. Those are my initial thoughts, I'll write up a longer review later.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  10. apoc

    apoc The Once and Ginger King DLP Supporter

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    Just finished both books back to back.

    Skyward is miles better. It's plot is better paced, its cast better fleshed out, its antagonists and struggles both mature and complex. Its actually closer to a Hunger Games style dystopian YA book than a sci-fi one for the majority of it and I actually kind of dig that. Spensa is a treasure and dumber than a box of rocks and I highly suspect Sanderson had some drunken dare to write a chunni protagonist somehow, but it works. The rest of the flight can be hard to keep track of at first but you get to know them and get attached quick (more should have died though, especially given how few have real roles in the second book).

    The prose is serviceable but its no Rothfuss. This is my first Sanderson series so if this is standard for him it explains why he manages to write so much because he probably just cranks it out factory-made. The story and characters carry the book and not the writing. As others have said, the epilogue is the definition of poorly done.

    Starsight is... interesting. It's way, way more of a sci-fi book and I think that's a good thing. It's bold and it's clever, it plays with some sci-fi tropes and it throws curveballs at you even while working to keep a very similar set up to the first book with Spensa in yet another flight academy. But the sci-fi parts with the Superiority are bare and although some of the new characters are fun and fresh, they're worse than in the first book. And the second half of the book is a total disaster that gets worse the closer to the end it gets.

    Good stuff: I admired the audacity of the book to give a fairly milquetoast, slow start setting up the new state of affairs on Detritus before turning the entire plot on its head in a single chapter, it was neat and unexpected and exciting. Sanderson really starts biting into some actual sci-fi concepts, we see the flourishing galactic civilization and its stark contrast to Spensa's society, the diversity of alien life is given a lot of detail. The Superiority is interesting and nuanced, the kitsen are hilarious (though the bit about them being connected to Earth directly was... too much) and Sanderson plays with some standard sci-fi tropes - particularly the bit about all translators in the galaxy already knowing Earth languages was clever, I thought. The pressure of being found out, the Superiority's views on humans, etc were all interesting.

    Bad stuff: The last quarter of the book is... mangled. Poorly paced, poorly done, ends on a very strange direction. I admired early on where the book turns on its head and slams the throttle in a different direction but when they do it towards the end it doesn't work. I actually really liked the fake epilogue but everything else is just bleh. Brade is an interesting character and foil/antagonist at first but then just gets all her complexity deliberately removed. More should have been played around with Spensa's identity coming to light, and she especially should have had more in-depth interactions with the major characters about her reveal. There should have been a bit more interaction with Superiority society as a whole, especially once Spin was revealed as a human. Delvers are... decent? They're a plot device and a boring one. The twist with them at the end is the only kind of interesting part but it happens far too late to actually do anything with

    The book has my admiration for a couple of things and for going harder for sci-fi but it needed a better cast, a few different shifts in focus, and a substantially better paced ending.
     
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