Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

“But do you realize what it’s doing to our society to train our children, practically from birth, to idealize and glorify fighting? To worship the First Citizens like saints? We should be teaching our children to be more caring, more inquisitive—not only to destroy, but to build” (182).

Which of the books in the photo is not like the other?

This is 50% a trick question. Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward is the only book among these not written in antiquity, but it shares similar concerns as ancient epics and tragedies: examining notions of heroism and cowardice, the hazards and necessity of acting on incomplete knowledge, and the insidious way that unexamined assumptions can shape interpretations and actions. I’m thankful to @bookstolivby of Instagram for recommending me this novel, which I otherwise would not have picked up.

Set in a futuristic world, on a planet to which humanity has fled and where they live under constant threat of extinction, the story belongs to Spensa, a teenager living in the shadow of her father’s painful legacy. An air defense pilot, he was branded a coward and shot down by his own comrades after fleeing from a battle for humanity’s survival. His presumed actions thwart Spensa’s dream to become a pilot herself, and equally significant, they haunt her imagination, her self-perception and relationships.

Spensa’s journey includes exciting twists and devastating turns. What may have impressed me most of all was how Sanderson provokes the reader—vicariously through Spensa—to feel things, and then reflect and question those feelings with compassion for self and other. The emphasis on slow growth through experience and reflection is wonderful to see in a young adult novel.

What’s a book from a genre or author you don’t usually read but that pleasantly surprised you?

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

  1. I loved hearing you discuss this book when we last talked. It was a joy to hear how much you liked it!

    I also love the question you asked. The most recent book in a genre I don’t usually read that pleasantly surprised me was “Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America’s Favorite Spectator Sport” by Matthieu Algeo. I’m not into sports and rarely, if ever, read sports memoirs or history, but this book was amazing and amusing. I was so glad to have picked it up. It ended up being one of the best books I read last year.

    1. Thank you, Alysa! I have not heard of that book, but it sounds super interesting. It sounds like it has a human interest angle that, imho, can make any topic potentially interesting.

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