Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I absolutely adored the first book of Brandon Sanderson’s new Cytonic Series, Skyward. If I could have given it an 11/10, I would have. It became my go-to recommendation for anyone looking for something good to read, regardless of what genre they preferred. It was just that good. So naturally I was excited (and a tad apprehensive) when the sequel was released. Usually, you’d figure I’d just be excited, but when a book is that good, I begin to worry I’ll be let down by the followup.
It’s true that Starsight isn’t at the same level as Skyward, but to use that as the measuring stick would really be unfair. It was one of my favorite books of the decade. Starsight is still a great read, and totally worth your time (though you definitely should read Skyward first). I’d post the summary, but I don’t want to spoil anyone, and the first book has some significant plot points that play into the second book. You almost can’t talk about the plot of the second without spoiling the first. So in broad strokes: science fiction. Space ship dog fights. Salvation of humanity. That sort of thing, but also on a very personal level. It’s one girl’s dream to become something more than what she’s allowed by society to be. That’s what set the first book apart from the rest. The personal story, and how it connects to the greater whole.
So what’s strong about the second book? As with all of Brandon’s works, the ending is fantastic. It’s one of the reasons I’m such a Sanderson fan. Too many times, a book starts off with a fantastic premise but just can’t deliver in the end. The finale is confusing or rushed or just feels tacked on. With a Sanderson book, you know your time investment is going somewhere. The last two thirds of this book just blazed by for me.
He also takes the time to explore some other civilizations in the novel, presenting what they might be like and how they might think. It’s one of the reasons I’m drawn to fantasy and science fiction: the chance to look at the world through completely different lenses. I don’t want to get into any more specifics, though, to avoid spoilers.
I did feel like the set up phase of this book went on longer than I would have liked. Spensa’s goals are clear, but not fully informed. It takes a good deal of time to get the pieces in place for that climax to really pop, and I didn’t find that setup time as engaging. Perhaps if I’d read the first one recently, it would have worked better. I struggled to remember who some of the characters were, and where things had been left at the end of the first.
But in the end, a review of a sequel sort of presupposes you liked the first. So what you really want to know is, “Is the second worth it?” In this case, most definitely. It takes the series some place new and exciting, and it left me eagerly anticipating the next book. 9/10. Check it out!
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