Starsight by Brandon Sanderson
Publication date: 26 November 2019
Genre: YA science fiction
Page count: 480 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is a spoiler-free review for Starsight, but may contain spoilers for Skyward.
Skyward was one of my favourite books of 2018 from one of my favourite authors. Brandon Sanderson never fails to write an engaging and exciting book, and his shift from adult fantasy into YA science fiction was an absolute delight. Naturally, I was beyond excited to read the sequel, Starsight. While I really enjoyed this second book, it did lack some of the charm of its predecessor.
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.
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. Everything Spensa has been taught about her world is a lie.
But Spensa also discovered a few other things about herself–and she’ll travel to the end of the galaxy to save humankind if she needs to.
Starsight jumps into a new setting and adventure that should have set it apart from the first book — Spensa and M-bot almost immediately goes off-world to the space station Starsight. While in disguise on Starsight, she meets and interacts with strangers, begins new fighter pilot training, and discovers secrets about herself and the world around her. Sound familiar? That’s because in a lot of ways, Starsight is essentially a rehashing of the plot in the first book. However, it does manage to kick open the door of Spensa’s world and she meets and befriends a number of new individuals from various alien species (while in disguise as an alien herself). She learns about the galactic community and the circumstances of her people’s imprisonment on her home planet. Given these changes, it does feel like a good continuation of the plot, however the book is bloated and over-long as Sanderson hits on many of the same story beats already explored in Skyward. The beginning 150 and final 150 pages were just fantastic — just as you’d expect from him — but I really feel like the middle of the book could have been edited way down and the pacing improved. I really struggled to maintain interest for a large portion of the middle of the book!
Spensa continues to be a fun character, however I found that some of the shine has worn off of her at this point for me. I enjoyed her examining her own prejudices as she befriends alien species — all of whom are terrified of or hate humans and cannot know her true identity — and her constant struggle to adjust to life as a spy on a peaceful station. Her encounters with these people really help her grow as a character and I enjoyed seeing her progression throughout the course of the book. On the other hand, Spensa felt like a much more mature character than she did in Skyward. Her weird, quirky nature was so charming and made her stand out among the sea of female YA protagonists, however she felt like much more of a grown up in Starsight, despite the minimal amount of time between the two books. In some ways this was good, as she had the potential to become grating as the series progresses, but it was also a real shame for her to lose some of what made her such a unique individual. I still can’t decide if I feel positively or negatively about this shift in her character.
M-bot, or course, remains the absolute best and should be protected at all costs. Mushrooms and all.
Overall, I really enjoyed Starsight and it’s always a pleasure to read a new Sanderson book. Despite the dragging middle, the beginning and ending of the book were spectacular, and I cannot wait to see what happens next!
Want to pick up a copy of Starsight for yourself? You can find it at the following sites: