Genre: Sci-Fi Age Range: YA
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for SKYWARD and STARSIGHT*
Around the launch of CYTONIC, the third full length book in the Skyward series, three novellas about the rest of Spensa’s flight mates were released. Two were released before CYTONIC, and one after, indicating the order they were intended to be read in. They are due to be released later this year as a physical bind up – which is the perfect reason to collate all the reviews into one post rather than including them in the nearest “misc” round-up.
Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - book 2.1
The first of the Skyward Flight Novellas is narrated by FM. She (real name Freya) helps Jorgen and Rig to learn more about the cytonic slugs that can work as hyperdrives as the DDF are contacted by Cuna of the Superiority. (Goodreads here.)
I really liked getting inside FM’s head. She’s one of the flight members who often gets a back seat (alongside Nedd and Amphi/Arturo) so it was nice to understand her a bit better, the conflict in her between not being happy with the military focus of the DDF and also wanting to protect her friends. Plus we finally get to see her and Rig talk about what they feel for each other, after a few hints from Rig seen from Spensa’s books.
This novella is also about the cytonic slugs, understanding what they can do and how. I liked Rig’s scientific approach with his experiments and data collection. Plus the shift in thinking from seeing the slugs as things to be used, to seeing them as creatures to work with was a nice contrast to the pawn-moving of the superiority in STARSIGHT.
I have one little niggle – they’re talking to Alanik when she wakes, and she’s distressed (as the brass aren’t helpful) so she’s cytonically teleports away. Except it’s just left at that. No “where has she gone?” so I didn’t know what had happened – if she’d gotten out of the room or what as she’s not really mentioned again. Particularly given that that point of the novella was about slugs teleporting a few rooms I wasn’t expecting her to be gone gone, so the fact she wasn’t mentioned again was confusing (and I had to get to the next novella to understand she’d gone home!)
In all, it’s a strong start to the novellas, and I’m liking spending more time with the flight after most of a book without them – as the cast dynamics was one of the really strong things in SKYWARD.
Star Rating: 4 stars Series: yes - book 2.2
REDAWN (Goodreads here) really ups the tension and stakes for the series, as Alanik allies with Skyward flight to save her home, ReDawn, as the Superiority sinks its claws into both ReDawn and Detritus. It was a lot of fun seeing Alanik bond with them (and to gain an insight into her people after watching Spensa try to guess her way through presenting their culture based on others’ assumptions in STARSIGHT.)
I loved seeing the stakes raise back at home, because I suspect that CYTONIC is going to be very much Spensa-focused away from Detritus and her flight. If that’s true, then ReDawn is setting up a confrontation for the final book (which looks to be very high, personal stakes for the entire SKYWARD crew.)
The slug-based technology has come on in the time between SUNREACH and REDAWN thanks to investigation into the understandings gained at the end of SUNREACH (which is only about a week, so they worked quickly!) It was a really fun technology, and opens up new avenues for the story. Plus it’s a very collaborative capability that matches the team dynamics (and is a nice contrast to Spensa’s more isolated abilities.)
Right, onto CYTONIC now (following Sanderson’s recommended reading order.) As much as I really enjoy Spensa’s adventures, I will miss the flight as they have such a fun cast dynamic.
Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - book 3.1
Jorgen’s novella!!! I have been waiting for this one especially.
(Goodreads here.) He is such a fun character, duty-driven (which is a character trait I love) and struggling under the burden of command, balancing the responsibility of his orders potentially killing his flight-mates and also protecting civilians/fulfilling his objectives.
I really loved that this book took us further around the circle with Spensa’s allies from STARSIGHT (and I suspect we’ll finish the circle in the final book.) It’s so nice to feel like the cast of new characters I came to love spending time with in that book won’t be forgotten, but are going to be integral.
There is a lot of growth in this book for the characters at the same time as a lot of pieces are moved into place for the finale (currently called DEFIANT.) I appreciated that the time was taken to deal with Jorgen’s PTSD. The characters have all been through a lot in the series, so it was nice to see the consequences given the space to be acknowledged. FM also gets to continue her journey from the first novella, so that continuity even through another POV was great.
It all sets up what should be a very exciting finale, and I can’t wait to see how all the pieces collide.
Read my reviews of other books by Brandon Sanderson:
Skyward (this series):
- THE FINAL EMPIRE (#1)
For reviews of the final Wheel of Time books Brandon Sanderson finished off, see Robert Jordan