‘Skyward’ – Brandon Sanderson

‘Claim the Stars’ is what Spensa’s father tells her from early on. She recalls standing with him and seeing a gap in the clouds above them, and has always felt that she can hear things others can’t, but when he is shot down for deserting his squad life changes for Spensa and her family. Known as the daughter of a coward, Spensa has spent the last nine years facing people’s judgments of her.

Dreaming of becoming a pilot is the one thing that keeps Spensa focused.
In this futuristic world, humans live on a planet where they are regularly attacked by what they call Krell. Nobody knows what the Krell look like, or what they hope to achieve, but everyone fears their attacks. The heroes are the pilots who face them, and Spensa yearns to take on this role. However, because of her father’s actions Spensa seems to be destined to be cut off from this opportunity.

From the outset we see Spensa’s determination and stubbornness. She doesn’t back down, and her outspoken attitude is one of the things that seems destined to get her into trouble. However, these very traits also serve her in good stead.
For reasons that we come to see eventually, Spensa earns the opportunity to train as a pilot. She loves it, but with these new opportunities come the realisation that not everything is as clearcut as Spensa has always believed. Sometimes when you go rooting for answers to difficult questions you get them, and more than you were expecting.

While a substantial part of this book focuses on the day-to-day training of the pilots (which definitely had me reminiscing about Top Gun), there’s a lot of other things to keep you focused. I wanted to know what this ‘defect’ was that everyone kept talking about; I wanted to know more about the background to the people surrounding Spensa and their situation; I wanted to see Spensa grow as a character and I couldn’t wait to see just what was going on with M-Bot, the mysterious ship that Spensa finds and repairs. Some of these questions were answered, but not all.

I loved the pacing of this and the gradual heightening of tension as Spensa draws closer to coming to understand a little more of who she is. There was a good range of characters, and some unexpected humour.

All in all, this was a read that kept me focused from the start. I am now eager to read book two and learn a little more of this situation. Sometimes trying new things pays off…this was one such occasion.