Book Review: Skyward

Skyward
Author:
Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: November 6, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Synopsis: 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.


Rating: Sanderson strikes again, but this time with a fantastically over the top female MC, a mysterious sci-fi setting, and a snarky, mushroom obsessed AI.
Stars: 5 stars

I had no idea what to expect from a YA science fiction story from Brandon Sanderson, who is best known for wildly epic adult fantasy (go read Mistborn and Stormlight Archive RIGHT NOW!). I should have known that I would end up loving this book as much as I have with every other Sanderson book I’ve read. With a strong female lead, a wildly mysterious world, and epic dogfighting scences, Skyward stands up to the epic fantasy tomes that we’ve come to expect from Sanderson.

Sanderson’s strengths lie in world and character building. His prose is very straight forward and almost dry at times, but he manages to draw you in with exquisitely realized worlds and characters, that no matter how well or little they are developed, you can’t help but love or loathe. I’ve never known another author who could build such an in depth world without dragging down the pace of the story. I honestly think Sanderson is a wizard.

The main character, Spensa Nightshade (call sign: Spin), is filled with a righteous determination to prove herself and become the greatest pilot in the Defiant Defense Force. She has the world’s biggest chip on her shoulder from the mysterious defection of her father from the DDF and her society labeling her a daughter of a coward. Her grandmother has filled her head with heroic stories from Earth and it leads to some of the most fantastically ferocious battle speech from Spensa. As ridiculous as Spensa can be at times, she is a wonderfully human main character and even though I don’t share many of her qualities, I found myself relating to her in many ways.

The rest of the characters are developed to varying degrees, but as I said earlier, you still can’t help but feel emotions towards them. My favorite character is the one I won’t talk about because it’s mildly spoiler-y. But you’ll know who it is when you read the book. I was convinced there would be a romance in this story, but I was happy things didn’t go fully that way. I like romance in books, but it doesn’t always have to be there. The friendships that grows between Spensa and her flight mates is the heart of the book.

What I really loved was the mystery in the story. It is clear from the get-go that something is off about the DDF and the story of how the humans came to be trapped on their world. There are many twists and turns, and the final one is something I never saw coming. It sets up for what I’m sure will be a very interesting sequel. I cannot wait for Starsight, which is sure to be another stellar Sanderson story.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Audiobook Performances

The theme for today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, was basically DO WHAT YOU WANT! And what I want to do is scream from my blog rooftops about my DEEP AND UNDYING LOVE FOR AUDIOBOOKS! I’ll save my full rant for another post next year (yay for future rants!), but I’m just gonna throw this out there: AUDIOBOOKS COUNT AS READING!

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff…THE LIST!

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – Narrated by James Marsters
    Storm Front, the first book in the Dresden Files, was the first audiobook I ever listened to. I will admit that the first few books were a little rough with narration, but once Marsters gets into his groove it is AMAZING. His voice has always been highly pleasurable to listen to (anyone else a fan of his from Buffy?) and I will never say no to a chance to listen to a 14 book series read by him. Side note: his voice for Toot-Toot is stellar and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
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  2. Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown – Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
    The narration of this trilogy is bloodydamn brilliant! The rawness of Tim Gerard Reynolds voice brings such depth to this already fiercely beautiful story. There were moments where I had to stop what I was doing because I was so intensely drawn into the story through the narration.
  3. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, John Curless, Julian Elfer, Aedin Moloney
    Okay, yes…this is book 4 of Red Rising, which went from a trilogy to a saga this year. But I decided to do a separate entry because Iron Gold is told from 4 different POVs and there are 4 separate narrators. Each narrator brings a unique depth to their POV character and once again the intensity of Brown’s words are dialed up to 11 via the narration.
  4. Ready Player One & Armada by Ernest Cline – Narrated by Wil Wheaton
    I mean, was there anyone else more perfect to narrate these books?
  5. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – Narrated by Elizabeth Evans
    The voice of Elizabeth Evans IS the voice of Celeana Sardothian. There is no doubt in my mind. She brings to life the brash, confident, and vulnerable parts of Celeana. I intend to finish my audio reread of the series next year (I only made it through Heir of Fire before Kingdom of Ash came out and I HAD to read that book ASAP) and I am nervous about listening to the final book. Evans brings a lot of emotion to her narration and Kingdom of Ash was hard enough to read.
  6. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli – Narrated by Pearl Mackie
    Pearl Mackie’s voice is like butter. Smooth, delicious, emotional butter. I actually couldn’t get into this book when I was trying to read the physical copy. But the moment I tried the audiobook, at the recommendation of Delara over at @bookwnoname, I was hooked.
  7. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo  – Narrated by Jay Snyder, Brandon Rubin, Fred Berman, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Elizabeth Evans, Tristan Morris
    This was the first full cast audiobook I listened to. And with the exception of the person who narrates the Jasper chapters, I was thoroughly impressed with the narration in this duology. It was surprisingly easy to track each different narrators versions of all the character voices. My one problem was the narrator for Jasper. His voice was wonderful, but there wasn’t enough distinction in his inflection when he spoke for other characters. Other than that, the performances were spot on and full of emotions that added a whole other layer of “feels”.
  8. Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – Narrated by James Marsters
    Yes, James Marsters gets two mentions on this list because he is JUST THAT GOOD. Lord of Shadows had one of the most emotionally traumatic endings in a recent YA book and it was made all the more painful with Marsters’ narration. I was full on sobbing in my cubicle. He uses his voice to evoke such emotions. I’ve been listening to Queen of Air and Darkness while waiting for my physical copy to show up and it is tearing me apart listening to the subtle dread and despair he brings to the opening of this book. Also, as always, his pixies voices are spot on and delightful.
  9. Mistborn (ERA 1 AND ERA 2) by Brandon Sanderson – Narrated by Michael Kramer
    Kramer is like a narrating god. According to my friend who got me into audiobooks, Kramer narrates a lot (and often with his wife, Kate Reading). I’ve never listened to anything by him except the Mistborn books and if those are any indication of his talent, then I consider myself a fan. I am partial to Mistborn Era 2, and Kramer really shines with the rawness of Wax and the many accents of Wayne. This is one of my favorite fantasy series, in both physical and audio form.
  10. The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  – Narrated by Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain
    Okay, so…this is cheating a little bit because I haven’t actually listened to these yet but I just KNOW I’m going to love them. Illuminae was my favorite book I read this year and I’ve heard the audio is beyond stellar. I also realized as I was looking up the narrators that Olivia Taylor Dudley does some of the narration and I LOVE HER (y’all, go watch The Magicians RIGHT NOW! She plays Alice!). The books are incredibly unique in their format and I can’t wait to hear how it all plays out via audio. These will be my first audiobooks of 2019.

 

Do you listen to audiobooks at all? If yes, what are some of your favorites?

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Want to Say Thank You To

Happy Thanksgiving week, book people! If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, HAPPY WEEK IN GENERAL! It’s time for stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Oh, and being thankful! The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a freebie so I went with Top Ten Authors I Want to Say Thank You To. One thing I’m intensely thankful for is books and the people that create them. Giving words to the world is a terrifying thing and whenever I think about meeting authors of my favorite books the only thing I want to say to them is “Thank you for giving me these words and these worlds.”

  1. Patrick Rothfuss – I need to thank that man for The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. From the first time I read these books, so many years ago, all I’ve wanted to do is thank him for creating these characters and writing these stories. They have brought me such pain and joy and I loved every moment of them.6gljmNkVHxuuY
  2. Tamora Pierce – She gave the world some serious kick ass female characters in YA before kick ass females were the norm. And for that she should be thanked.3oz8xIsloV7zOmt81G
  3. Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – For serious snark and reviving my love of sci-fi stories.10avZ0rqdGFyfu
  4. Brandon Sanderson – This man builds the most wonderous and dangerous worlds and I have loved every moment exploring them.3otPoOxyDTXjzpMbIY
  5. Clarie Luana – The Confectioner’s Guild is one of my favorite reads of the year. I spent the whole time reading it with a smile on my face and that is what reading should be.z2HC00n6pfcA
  6. Holly Black – For writing deliciously dark faerie tales that helped me escape some truly terrible times in my 20s.4lpctAAV9Azpm (1)
  7. LJ Smith – Every one of Smith’s books was a friend to me in high school.xT5LMAS7woru73f6xi
  8. Leigh Bardugo – For giving me such good character studies and wonderfully dark worlds to traverse.3o7TKANQ6OeCp3oxvG
  9. Pierce Brown – The Red Rising saga is equal parts ridiculous, amazing, intense, unique, and wonderful. Reading them has taken me on such a wild ride and my reading life would be much duller without them.jr0VZIBH5dKDe
  10. JK Rowling – For everything.3ErmSXChvkv5u

Who are some author’s you want to say thank you to?