Warning: This review may contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Skyward.
Starsight is the sequel to Skyward– Brandon Sanderson’s YA sci-fi adventure – which was one of my favourite books of last year. It was an absolute blast to read: full of fast-paced action sequences and lovable characters that was backed up by a engaging and mysterious setting. This, alongside Sanderson’s reputation, possibly gave me too much expectation because this book just didn’t seem to hit the same high points as Skyward. There is nothing objectively bad about it… I don’t really have any big criticisms, but it just wasn’t as good as Skyward. In my opinion, at least. And, if I am being honest here, I think that is because this book wasn’t quite what I had expected based on the first book.
The story starts a few months after the end of Skyward. Spensa, our main character, and her flight team have graduated from flight school after the Battle of Alta Second. They are now part of the remnants of humanity’s last line of defence as they battle for survival on the ruin covered planet of Detritus. For Spensa herself, her newly discovered powers are a terrifying mystery, but one she knows could hold the secret to saving humanity from destruction at the hands of the Krell and the Superiority – a galaxy spanning, alien empire.
This book starts off at an absolutely frantic pace that reminds us of the danger that humanity is in and the stakes should Spensa fail. But after that, the pace of the adventure takes a turn for the slower. In the interest of avoiding spoilers, I’m not going to say why the pace tails off, but this drop in pace gives the book a different feel to the first book. Sure, there are a few fights and battles sprinkled throughout, but only one with the same high stakes feel that made Skyward so enthralling.
Aside from the pace, one of the biggest departments from the first book here is the characters. Skyward had a fantastic cast of characters that built up really strong friendships throughout – and you were really rooting for them all at all times. Starsight has this as well. But, with the exception of everyone’s favourite AI spaceship (Woooo! More M-Bot!) and Spensa, they are almost all new. Sure, Cobb, Jorgen, Kimmalyn and co. all make appearances, but they’re on the back-burner a bit. The new cast are also all wonderful and beautifully characterised. My personal favourite of this new bunch is Hesho, a totally not the king and ruler of his species. His insistence that he is part of a proper democracy throughout the book are hilarious and bring some of the best lines in the book – even rivalling M-Bot!
Now, earlier I said that I don’t really have any major criticisms of this book, but if I was to have one, it would be that so much felt unknown and mysterious in Skyward, but this really wasn’t the case in this book. Honestly, it all felt a bit convenient with M-Bot’s powers being able to find out so much about the universe and the Krell. Maybe that was just me?
One final point, and one that actually counts for all of Sanderson’s books, is that there is a clear and overwhelming theme for this book. Here it is a book about prejudice and how people make assumptions and judge people before you know them. This is a journey Spensa kind of went through in Skyward – especially with Jorgen – but that book’s main theme, in my mind, was about staying true to yourself and perseverance in the face of resistance, but here Spensa really must learn to get on with those who are different. Amd for any that know Spensa, that isn’t going to be easy for her!
Anyway, what do I think in conclusion? It is a good book and I would say to read it, especially if you liked Skyward, but they aren’t that similar in my opinion. So don’t go in expecting the same thing. I honestly think that mindset meant that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I could have. Though, that cliffhanger of an ending will definitely bring me back to the next book!