Starsight is the sequel to Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward and therefore both the blurb and this review assumes you have read that first book so expect spoilers for book one.
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
Starsight is the sequel to Skyward which is a book I loved last year! And it is a sequel that for the most part doesn’t disappoint.
This review assumes you’ve read book one and therefore expect spoilers for that.
The book begins on Detritus which is the planet where humans are to all intents and purposes imprisoned as they are constantly under threat from a type of guardian alien race (that the humans call Krell).
The main character is once again my girl Spensa… God I love her. She’s just so fabulously feisty, fiercely independent with an air of almost cockiness about her but yet at times she has these great crises of self with regards to her confidence and belief in herself and her mission. In book one (Skyward) Spensa had just discovered that she has what are called cytonic abilities which allow her hyperjump (aka teleport) herself and her ship through space. What I loved about this book is that at the beginning conveniently gets us up to speed on the main talking points from book one but without seeming repetitive. Big thumbs up from this forgetful reader!
Anywho… One day this random alien spacecraft shows up on the outer rims of Detritus and Spensa is sent off to intercept. Stuff happens and the alien pilot (named Alanik) is injured but before falling unconscious this alien tells Spensa about a big ol’ space station named Starsight and urges Spensa to go there because they’re seeking pilots to fight the Delver…
(they being this Superiority alliance which is pretty much run by the Krell who are actually called Varvax and this other snooty race called Diones and the Delver are this black expanse aka the eyes that Spensa saw in connection with her cytonic abilities.)
So Spensa and Jorgen (aka Jerkface from book one) have a quick little conflab and its decided that Spensa and her ship M-Bot will head off to this Starsight place to hopefully infiltrate this pilot recruitment drive (because she will pretend to be this alien Alanik) but more importantly to nick a hyperdrive to aid the humans in their quest to defeat the Krell.
And off Spensa flies…
So somewhat disappointingly this means that the characters that made book one such a blast are largely absent from the book. As someone who really favours character over plot this took a little getting used to but happily enough Sanderson is more than capable of fully developing a new environment for Spensa and M-Bot (and Doomslug) to inhabit. And he introduces us to a variety of new alien species and new personalities. As with book one no one character is ever as fully developed as Spensa because primarily the book is written from her perspective and thusly the characters are all seen through her eyes. But I did enjoy the new recruits to this series and quickly got over my disappointment at not being back with all of the same characters from book one. In many ways this change of setting and new cast of supporting characters really meant that this book wouldn’t feel stale or in any way repetitive.
I really enjoyed the concept behind the creation of the Superiority alliance of aliens. Sanderson really excelled at creating authentic feeling backstories for all species and for the individual characters.
Some of the main ones were:
- Cuna who was a Dione in a position of power, sorta like a diplomat, but who always seemed to be hiding something. And had this constant air of smugness around him.
- Winzik was a super creepy and slimy feeling Varvax who kept a human as a a pet essentially… Yes. We don’t like him LMAOOO! He was head of the department of protective services so obvs was just super shady and mistrusting of everyone. And had a deep hatred of humans because apparently we are a dreadfully aggressive species…
- The Kitsen were these small gerbil like creatures led by Captain Hesho that I just kept picturing ad kittens in my head because clearly kitsen and kitten are too similar for me to distinguish! But they were trying to become a superior alien race and that’s why they signed up for the pilot recruitment. They also bought into the idea of humans being aggressive… What was really cool was how humans were mis-represented in this book with a lot of propaganda and fake news. It just added a really interesting dimension.
- Vapor was another pilot wannabe who was this weird vapour like species called a Figment that you could only detect by smell??? Honestly super weird but also super cool idea!!!
- And then there was Brade who was Winzik’s pet human who had been basically brainwashed into hating her own species… Bless her… She, like Spensa, also had cytonic abilities which became quite the interesting plot focus.
- And my fav of the new alien characters was another Dione, this one named Morriumur, who was actually not yet born and was instead half of each of their parents and was basically on a trial pre-birth to decide if they were worthy enough to be given birth to… Strange yes. Genius also yes!
The story threw all these characters together in really interesting ways and it was fascinating to see the growth of Spensa from book one as she had to band this group of wannabe fighter pilots together in order to fight the Delver all while keeping up the charade of playing alien Alanik and attempting to figure out how to steal a hyperdrive. I was fully invested in the plot and honestly was never quite sure how things would unfurl as the story progressed.
As with book one the best scenes in the book were the interactions between M-Bot and Spensa. I just love M-Bot so much. I just can’t even begin to explain the hows and whys of my love other than M-Bot is hilarious but also can make scenes feel so unbelievably poignant and tug HAAAAARD on the heartstrings. I want to be M-Bot’s friend so badly really.
The one negative is that overall pace of the book wasn’t quite as on point as book one as it did lag in the middle for a time but dang that ending more than made up for it. I’m just sad now that I have to wait for book three to see how the story will further unfold.
Overall an incredibly satisfactory sequel to an already strong first book! But I really hope we get a lot more from the human characters from Detritus in book three. Is it cos I’m shipping Spensa and Jurgen……. DAMN RIGHT I AM!!!!