Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

Starsight book cover
Rating 9.2/10
Starsight is an intense ride with equal measures of thrilling action and emotional resonance.

Is there any period in life more difficult to navigate than adolescence? Worrying about school, figuring out which hottie you want to smooch, and finding new ways to act rebellious can be exhausting. Then there’s the aliens. The screaming stars. The mysterious AI, and your cytonic powers of understanding faster-than-light radio signals. It’s enough to terrify even the strongest of souls. What’s a girl got to do to catch a break? Lucky for us readers, we get to continue Spensa’s story and find out.

In the first volume of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series, we explored Spensa’s metamorphosis from an angry, defiant teen into a determined leader who is just starting to learn what kind of person she really is. In the excellent sequel Starsight, Spensa is pushed far out of her comfort zone (if she ever really had one to begin with) and is forced into facing what she fears most. On a surface level, she examines a societal hierarchy that is determined to keep ‘lesser races,’ such as humans, under government control. She must now face new challenges against horrifying demons—universe-swallowing “delvers”—not only in thrilling space battles, but in metaphysical and symbolic trials as well. Along the way, Spensa must covertly navigate through a corrupt shadow government that rules through secrecy and extortion, all while her cytonic powers start to grow. It’s a lot to handle, especially when she’s cut off from everyone she’s ever known.

In Skyward, Sanderson explored the nature of identity, both human and artificial. He ups the ante in Starsight to unprecedented levels by introducing a plethora of alien races for Spensa to contend with. When she’s not fighting to save her life and the entire human race, she has her back against the wall trying to determine who she’s able to trust. Can it be an invisible, gaseous cloud that can only be detected by smell? Or an unborn, “trial” baby that is a temporary amalgam of two parents’ bodies and their combined traits? Sanderson takes full advantage of the universe as his sandbox in creating unique and wonderful creatures, rules, ways of life, and varying characteristics and communications. But is it possible that we all might share some of the same traits and tendencies, no matter what we look like, what our social status is, or where we come from?

It takes little effort to understand that Starsight is an intense ride with equal measures of thrilling action and emotional resonance. Once again, he knocks it out of the park; it’s another Grand Slamderson. Every new project he tackles, his storytelling somehow seems to get better and better. His brain belongs in a museum. It’s truly a gift that we get to experience so many stories from such a prolific writer. Don’t be put off by the YA label. Everyone should join Spensa on her journey, and strap in tight. There’s many more light years of space mileage to cover yet.

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