Describing Skyward as YA Top Gun is far too reductive. Sanderson weaves an exciting, expertly paced story of survival on an alien planet. Humanity has been driven underground after crash landing, while their foes relentlessly attack from the air. Their air force is the only that that stands between them and total annihilation.
Skyward isn’t a grimdark war story, but neither does the author shy away from death and mental trauma among a class of teenage cadets. Our protagonist, Spensa, is immature and aggressive, the very definition of chip on her shoulder thanks to her father’s disgrace. Yet she shows real growth throughout the story, which thankfully evolves beyond the stereotypical “power of friendship” that these stories tend to lean on.
My only complaint is a certain character who is introduced about halfway through. The personality is a bit too jarring and off-putting, and I didn’t quite buy the relationship between them and Spensa.
Every other character is an absolute delight, however, from the gruff veteran teacher to the acerbic admiral who has it out for Spensa, and all her classmates. The ending actually answers a lot of the mysterious questions that surround the entire plot structure. Looking forward to reading the sequel!