“Skyward: Claim the Stars” by Brandon Sanderson. New York: Delacorte Press. Copyright 2018.
Science Fiction novels are often the populated by male characters. In Skyward, Brandon Sanderson breaks this tradition by creating a young female protagonist whose life long dream has been to become a pilot.
Spensa’s world has been under attack for as long as she can remember, and the only hope for the continued existence of her world lies in the hands of the pilots that fight the Krell and prevent the use of the Lifebuster bombs that threaten to destroy her people. Spensa’s only dream has been to pilot one of the precious fighters that her people revere. But what she doesn’t know are the chips are stacked against her being allowed to ever attend flight school.
This novel follows Spensa as she learns hard truths about herself and her people. Her beloved father was killed by his own wing mate during a battle where he appeared to be a deserter. As a result, Spensa’s family is treated as second class citizens in their small colony, and the head of the flight school bears a grudge that is more than it seems. Through the intervention of the same wing mate who shot down her father all those years ago, Spensa is eventually admitted to flight school, although the attendant hardships visited on her by the head of the school make the price almost too much for her to bear.
Spensa is a plucky, determined teenager and a fantastic role model for any young adult who feels out of place and misunderstood. Through her adventures in this novel we learn that her skills exceed even that of her father, who maybe wasn’t a deserter after all. As she grows into her new-found skills, Spensa learns that she doesn’t have to do everything alone, and that friends are the key to staying alive in a world where war is never ending.
As always, Sanderson creates a unique world full of challenges both exotic and mundane. His characters suffer real-world problems as well as the challenges of being a small population of humans facing an endless stream of enemies. With detailed descriptions of air battles and the mystery of Spensa’s father to solve, this is a fast-paced read full of surprises.
Deana Cunningham is the Associate Director of Operations for Alamance County Public Libraries. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.