There are some SPOILERS in the below synopsis for Skyward, book 1 in this series. So if you have not read it and don’t want to be spoiled for a particular event that is pretty important, skip to my spoiler free review.
All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumors of his cowardice are true–he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.
Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars–and it was terrifying. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.
But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
“I tried to imagine a world where I remembered being forced to prove I was worth existing. No wonder this society had issues.”
It was so good to get back into this world with these characters. I really enjoyed Skyward and so Starsight was on my list of most anticipated releases for 2019. Although there was one thing in particular that caused me to give this 4 stars instead of 5, I still really enjoyed Starsight.
Let’s talk about the plot. This book felt like it was a stepping stone to the rest of the series. What I mean by that is it was an entry focused a lot on worldbuilding and setting certain situations up for the rest of the series, rather than a full on story that could stand on its own like Skyward. There was just enough plot progression to get me excited for the rest of the series, but not enough for me to love book 2 in and of itself.
Now that we’ve gotten past that let’s discuss everything that I did love about Starsight. Since we just talked about it, let’s jump into world building. The relatively local, small world of Skyward is expanded dramatically in book 2. We get to see and hear about new planets and peoples. So many new alien species! We also learn more about the history of both humanity and some of these other species and can therefore better understand why the universe is in its current state. We get to see the inner workings and political machinations of the government that holds the humans captive on Detritus. Finally, we are introduced to new technology that will dramatically alter the rest of the story. This was Sanderson at his best, delivering a well thought out, immersive world that kept me wanting more.
“That’s what war is,” Cobb told me. “A bunch of sorry, desperate fools on both sides, just trying to stay alive. That’s the part that those stories you love leave out, isn’t it? It’s always more convenient when you can fight a dragon. Something you don’t have to worry you’ll start caring about.”
We get to follow Spensa almost solely throughout this book with a few interludes here and there to break it up. I loved Spensa’s character development in this one. We see her continued growth from the somewhat bitter and immature person that she began as in Skyward into the self sacrificing, mature leader that she needs to be for her people. I also really liked how there was far less bravado on Spensa’s part in this one. Her growth in Starsight always felt organic, never forced. There was a reason for the way she was previously and her growth is continually believable and well thought out.
“I was hoping to discover another AI, so we could complain about organics together. Wouldn’t that have been a fun time?”
Spensa and M-bot’s witty banter was a highlight for me as well. There were so many times where I laughed out loud during their conversations. We also get to see a more serious, introspective side of M-bot that we hadn’t seen much of before. This added an unexpected and welcome depth to the story, as well as M-bot’s character. Also, Doom Slug, enough said.
The action sequences, though fewer than in Skyward, were no less exhilarating and high stakes. Sanderson has mastered the art of space warfare and it shows in Starsight. Incredibly well done.
There were also several themes in Starsight including the effects of stereotypes and prejudice, taking responsibility for the choices you make, and the value of every life that made this book so much more than just an entertaining story.
I really enjoyed Starsight. This was a fast, easy read with so many things to love including the expansive world building, deep character development, thrilling space action, and witty dialogue. I can’t wait for book 3!
Nice review David. I like the quote, “so we can complain about organics”. That made me laugh, but also kind of think about the nature of self and the need to find like-minded connections.
Realms of My Mind says
Enjoyed this one as well! Skyward still takes the cake, that book hooked me from the beginning and put me through the wringer with Spensa. It was always going to be hard to beat! Now the agonizing wait for book 3….
David S says
Exactly my feelings! It was definitely a good book. But Skyward’s amazing characters and unrelenting action keep me HOOKED. I also missed the camaraderie between the squad that Spensa is in.
Cassidee Lanstra says
Haven’t read this one yet! I save the Sanderson books I haven’t read for when I’m in a book slump, as I know they’ll always get me back on track. Great review!
David S says
Thank you! And that is such a good idea! I agree. I’ve never read a Sanderson that I’ve disliked or DNF’d