For years, friends have been raving at me about how great Brandon Sanderson’s books are, and I’ve been resisting for far too long. I’ve always had too many books on my TBR to get into another author who writes epic fantasy, and to be honest, when I read Skyward last year, I liked it, but not as much as I was expecting to, given how beloved an author he seemed to be in my network. As it seemed to be a fairly new genre for him, I was still very keen to continue the series with Starsight. So I jumped at the chance to review this wonderful book for Gollancz – any opinions are entirely my own, and I am very grateful to Gollancz and Stevie Finegan especially for providing me with a review copy!
RELEASE DATE: 26/11/2019
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SYNOPSIS: All her life, Spensa has dreamed of becoming a pilot. Of proving she’s a hero like her father. She made it to the sky, but the truths she learned about her father were crushing. The rumours of his cowardice are true – he deserted his flight during battle against the Krell. Worse, though, he turned against his team and attacked them.
Spensa is sure there’s more to the story. And she’s sure that whatever happened to her father in his starship could happen to her. When she made it outside the protective shell of her planet, she heard the stars – and it was terrifying. What she learned turned her world upside down. Everything Spensa’s been taught is a lie.
But Spensa also learned a few things about herself – and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
OPINIONS: While Skyward still had to do a lot of the set up of a new sci-fi universe, and a second world planet with its associated human society, Starsight was able to reap all the benefits from its prequel and dive right into the action. I do feel like the two books very much have a prequel – sequel relationship than necessarily a more traditional series structure: Starsight could very well be read apart from Skyward, as it mainly takes place in a mission setting, with a new cast of characters. So if you accidentally picked up Starsight only to realise it’s book two, don’t worry, read it anyway, you can always catch up later! These books are rather fast paced and very thrilling reads, so they do basically read themselves.
As book two mainly takes place on an interspecies space station, Starsight, it includes far more diversity. We encounter a variety of different species, from the enemies known from Skyward, the Krell, to the Dione, a species that reproduces by literally combining the parents for months to ‘try out’ a potential child, to the Kitsen, a tiny furry people, reminiscent of very intelligent Ewoks, that just recently moved from monarchy to democracy, to just name a couple. As this also leads to a lot of species-based bias, the topic of intelligence and development is a big one, as is aggression.
The Krell and the Dione seem to be the leaders of this galactic alliance, and claim a peaceful nature for themselves, while attributing aggression to humans. But what makes a species peaceful or aggressive? And what behaviours are acceptable to protect one’s goals? These and many more questions like them are at the centre of this novel and make the reader think, and link back science fiction to current events and world politics.