by Brandon Sanderson
Conditional Recommendation: Spensa dreams of becoming a fighter pilot and defending the remnants of the human race from the Krell aliens, but she’ll have to face her father’s shameful legacy, flight school, and the Admiral’s attempts to deny her.
Genre: Sci Fi, Fantasy
This is my first experience with Brandon Sanderson’s work and he did not disappoint! Even though I’m not a Star Wars fanatic, I LOVED it. The building tension, the character development, the mystery, the reveals, the twists, the fantasy elements, the climactic conclusion—brilliant! A thoroughly exciting read that I could not put down or flip pages fast enough to finish.
Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul.
Loss, grief, living in your parent’s shadow, courage verses cowardice, the glorification of war—this book covers all of it and not in a light, off-handed manner. Her father was labeled a disgrace and a coward for abandoning his flight in battle and Spensa has fought against the accusation of “coward” ever since. His shameful shadow lies heavily upon her, but she longs for more, longs for the chance to prove everyone wrong about her father and herself. This is a core struggle carried throughout the book. Spensa has also, with the help of her grandmother’s stories of past heroes and battles, developed a romanticized and glorified picture of war, death, and fighting. From naivete to the gory cruelty and tragedy of war is a very natural, easy to read progression.
It took me a little while to get a handle on the various characters because of how swiftly they’re introduced and because each has two names—their real name and their callsign. It’s hard to keep the characters in your mind at first but given time they sink in and become distinct individuals whom you come to know and really like. At first I was worried that Sensa’s childhood friend would fall to the wayside but Sanderson doesn’t let that happen and coordinates his characters screen time very well.
I thoroughly enjoyed the plot. The anticipation of mysterious and fantastical pieces of information had me going crazy trying to read fast enough to discover them. It was just the right amount of thrilling, interesting, and I-must-walk-and-sort-of-scream because the revelations are so satisfying. It’s quite the fun, exciting ride.
I can tell you nothing but: yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Sanderson gives the reader everything you want and more.
Elements of war but only about 1% gore as most of the fighting involves starships shooting at each other, crashing, or exploding. Nothing descriptive. What’s hard-hitting though are the emotions of loss as good pilots die in battle. It’s realistic but doesn’t dwell in darkness.
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