Wow, just wow!!! I absolutely loved this book. It may not be the most original of stories and it’s certainly not perfect but Sanderson is such an incredible storyteller you can’t help but become invested. It’s a wonderful start to the series and I can’t wait for what comes next.
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.
This was my first book by Sanderson and I have to confess that despite being lucky enough to get a copy from Netgalley I put off reading it for ages, a combination of fear that yet again I would be that one person who didn’t like his writing and also my general wariness of all things sci fi.
When I finally picked it up though I found myself instantly hooked. I knew from pretty much the first page that this was a book I was going to love and I was 100% right. Yes, I can look back at it objectively and say it’s maybe a little longer than it needs to be, some of the characters are underdeveloped and it’s not the most original of stories but while I was reading it I was completely swept away by it.
There’s something about it that just feels epic sci fi. Something that made me nostalgic for those classic sci fi films I loved when I was young. It has that brilliant combination of alien attacks and school setting kind of like Enders Game or Top Gun (OK I need to think of better comparisons) and there is something about the writing which made it all feel very familiar and comfortable (despite having never read the author before). It’s hard to put into words but I just instantly knew that I could trust him to tell a story I’d love.
The characters do veer a little into the classic stereotypes, the hot headed, fiercely independent and determined heroine on a journey of discovery, the grumpy but good hearted mentor/teacher, the nerdy, genius best friend, and the seemingly aloof, priveledged nemesis/love interest but it didn’t matter. I loved main character Spensa and the journey she goes on. She’s just so determined and I love a character who’s proactive, who makes mistakes and who learns.
I loved the emotion in the story too, there is a lot of humour and many, many funny conversations between Spensa and a certain ship AI but there’s a lot of heart there too. There are some wonderful friendships which develop between the characters and for YA it’s nice to see these rather than a romance take centre stage.
The story and the world building are very well done too. There is plenty of action and lots of conflict to keep the story moving on, and the reader hooked. Yes it does get a little repetitive in places, one battle against aliens after another does become a little same old, same old but there’s enough going on with the characters to keep you glued to the page and rooting for them. I should also add here that I often get lost in big action sequences and struggle to visualise or keep up, but that was never an issue. I was seriously impressed with how Sanderson made it all so easy.
There are a few unexpected turns in the story and while parts are predictable (and a smidge tropey) it still surprised me. The ending in particular was epic in scale and left plenty of loose ends for the next book.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review