Book Reviews

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – Book Review

A book cover of Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – Book Details

TITLE – Skyward

SERIES – Skyward, book #1

AUTHOR – Brandon Sanderson

GENREscience fiction, fantasy, young adult



MY RATING – 5 of 5


Initial Thoughts

Skyward is the first book I’m reading by Brandon Sanderson.

No, I am not kidding.

No, I don’t know how that is possible.

Yes, I do feel a bit ashamed.

But here we are. 2021 has just started, the world has practically gone crazy and I, a lifetime bookworm and lover of sci-fi and fantasy, have never read anything by one of the greatest fantasy/sci-fi authors of our time.

I have no words to describe how eager I was to change that. And how special occasion exciting it felt to finally hold Skyward in my hands.

At that point, I didn’t even doubt I would like it. I’ve heard so many amazing things about his writing – I just knew once I start reading his books, I won’t be able to shut up about them, so be warned :-).

Now, I know that many Brandon Sanderson’s fans disagree on where one should start with his books. I decided to start with Skyward, mostly because I prefer sci-fi over fantasy a little bit…

What It Is About

A quote from Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: “I felt hollowed out. Empty. Not afraid, of course. I bathed in fires of destruction and reveled in the screams of the defeated. I didn’t get afraid. But maybe, deep down, I was…worried.”

To become a fighter pilot and help defend her little world against the aliens is all Spensa, callsign Spin, has ever wanted. But branded the daughter of a coward, it will be very challenging for her to convince everyone she will not get scared and abandon her flightmates in the middle of a battle.

But, Spin has one or two secrets that might even further complicate her status. The biggest one being remnants of an opinionated, sassy starship she’s accidentally found.

As she’s trying to navigate the flight school while repairing the old ship, Spensa will have to learn what makes a man a coward, what being brave really means, what is the true value of friendship and what really happed during The Battle of Alta.

And of course – how to kick those aliens’ butts once and for all…

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson – My Review

Ok, so first things first – that map! I am not a huge fan of maps at the beginning of practically every epic fantasy lately. But my oh my, was this one done well!

It was not overwhelming, but it told half of the background story. It got me so intrigued and excited about the read – I just knew I am going to love this book.

I actually opened this book, saw the map, read two pages and realized – this was not going to be a book I would willingly put down. And, because I had a lot of work to finish in the following few days, I stopped reading right then and there. Took three days to finish as much of my work as I could. Made sure nothing important would interrupt me.

Then I picked up this little over 500 pages piece and swallowed it in two sittings. And I loved every second of it!

Skyward is an action-packed, fast-paced, high-stakes story that makes you keep wondering what is going to happen next. But it is also a young adult, school setting type of story in which you follow the main character just – growing up.

I loved most of the characters. They were very distinct from one another and fun and just – great to get to know. A few of them had many layers to them, which made them especially interesting and relatable.

I also loved that Sanderson is not afraid to kill a good guy every once in a while. And that is all I’m gonna say about that.

The world building felt minimal, but not in a bad way. I loved that we got to see only what we really needed for the story and that the book was way more focused on action and character development.

I hope that we’ll get more of the world building in the sequels. But for the first book in a series – this was kind of perfect.

I also very much appreciated that all the scientificy, techniquey stuff were presented very simply. I could almost feel like I was in a cockpit with her. But everything was explained just enough so that you can follow the story with no problem without going too technical or boring me to death with things I wouldn’t care about.

This book made me wanna fly. I don’t think I can give it a higher praise than that.

Story wise – you will need to suspend your disbelief somewhat. A few things didn’t quite make sense. A few things were very hard to believe. And I wasn’t 100% happy with how some smaller parts got resolved.

But to be 100% honest, that didn’t bother me as much as it normally would. Somewhere in my brain, objectively I noted that not everything was quite adding up. But this book had so many brilliant parts to offer, I was willing to help it convince me that there are probably answers to all that was bothering me; I just didn’t get them.

My absolute favorite part of this book and the main reason why I loved it so much – Spensa Nightshade.

To me, if I manage to truly connect with the protagonist, the book ends up amongst my favorites. And that usually takes a while – you need to get to know them, spend some time with them, see them going through something difficult, overcoming it, learning something new… You know the drill.

But this one hooked from the very beginning. That prologue was all it took for me to fall in love with Spensa. A fierce little girl wandering around caverns with her hero father, dreaming one day she’ll become just like him… Bless my stars.

Well-explored, complex, complicated father-daughter relationships fascinate me for some reason. It is one of my favorite tropes. With this one – just the prologue was enough to take my heart.

I know many people said they didn’t like Spensa and some even found her annoying, and honestly – I don’t get it. I mean, sure – different people, different tastes and all. But – really?

Cause to me she quickly became one of my favorite characters ever. She’s still a kid and she’s been through a lot. She’s doing the best she can.

And being a teenager is already hard enough, gosh darn it! Even without everyone around you insulting you and provoking you and making you feel unwanted all the time.

Every time people made this girl feel crappy because of something her father allegedly did years ago, my heart ached for her. I am usually all for peace and solving problems through dialog and all. But every time they’d hurt her with no good (or any) reason… I was really hoping to see some asses getting kicked.

Spensa – she’s not perfect. She doesn’t have everything figured out. She’s 17, for crying out loud! And at that, a 17-year-old with not a lot going in her favor.

But she is capable of admitting a mistake, at least to herself. She is learning. And it was fun following her getting there.

I loved how simply and effectively her contrasting sides were presented. She’s a bullied kid who wants to become a pilot and a hero. So she has a teddy bear called Bloodletter and she named her pet Doomslug the Destroyer.

She’s a warrior nerd, that’s what she is.

I also grew to love her descriptive, elaborate treats quite a bit. Those over-the-top dramatic bravados showed her vulnerability better than anything else ever could.

Look, I get this book is not going to be for everyone. But to me it felt so good, I have no words to describe it. And I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!

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