"Skyward" is Brandon Sanderson's brilliant first installation in a new science fiction series that will carry his unique and creative legacy forward for many years to come. I reviewed Sanderson's series "The Reckoners" for these pages last year and have read a few more of his works since then. While most of his work is written for and sold to – at least nominally – a young-adult audience, his writing easily transcends such narrow identification.
It is great to see books that are appropriate for intelligent and savvy younger readers that are worthy of the attention and consideration of a broader literary audience. In my opinion, “Skyward” is an almost perfect space opera, a genre marked by simple yet compelling plot lines, precise and ingenuous world-building and complex, empathetic relationships and character development.
"Skyward" begins with young Spensa Nightshade saying goodbye to her father as he prepares to launch his fighter to defend against an attack of the Krell, an alien force that seems determined to wipe human existence from the aptly named planet Detritus. Detritus is a very old planet composed of a hard-rock core riddled with vast caverns and surrounded by the orbiting remains of ancient planetary defense platforms, space junk and debris fields. The Krell use these debris fields to camouflage their attacks on humanity. Though the human forces are victorious in repelling this murderous attack, due to what is attributed to cowardice by her father, Spensa is branded the daughter of a coward, ostracized and shunned. Spensa is a fighter, though, and even though it seems that the whole society is against her, she finds a way to learn to fly.
As with all of Sanderson's books, he has created interesting, believable and sympathetic characters, even when imbued with fantastic powers and living in the most incredible of planetscapes, What Sanderson's books lack in complex plot devices he more than makes up for in imaginative and truly unique world building as well as deeply moving passages that plumb both pathos and ethos. The main themes exploring the meaning and means of the great virtues; honor and integrity, love and loyalty and, above all, tenacious courage in the face of adversity.
This would be a great book to read and share with younger readers, to give as a gift or just to enjoy on your own. It is replete with non-stop action, amazing writing and great characters. Have fun!