BOOK REVIEW: Skyward Flight, by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • An Omnibus of SunReach, ReDawn, and Evershore
  • First Published in 2022
  • Published by Gollancz
  • Young Adult Space Opera
  • 579 pages

Spensa may be missing in action, but the fight goes on without her. The young pilots of Skyward Flight risk all in their battle against the Superiority. At stake, nothing less than the survival of the human race . . .

Brandon Sanderson may be a big name in the realms of epic fantasy, but the man best known for his scientific approach to magic is unsurprisingly equally at home in the worlds of science fiction. His Skyward series is ongoing, but now has a series of spin-off novellas to go alongside it. Originally released digitally and on audio, their first physical appearance is this omnibus edition of the three. Yet while Sanderson may be the brains behind the universe, and it’s his name writ large on the cover, his is not the only pen involved in the writing of this tale. For this is equally (and likely more) the work of Janci Patterson. Patterson is no stranger to fiction, and more crucially is a veteran of the young adult scene. Though we’ll likely never know for certain who put what into this story, the result is a collection that stands out from other ‘Sanderson’ works.

In terms of chronology, this omnibus takes place alongside Sanderson’s third Skyward novel Cytonic, though the plots barely cross over. The three novellas making up this collection tell a single story, but from a different point of view in each. FM, Alanik, and Jorgen each get a turn. Splitting the perspectives in this manner allows Patterson to flesh out the characters who were largely left to one side after the first Skyward novel. At least in theory. In practice, while we do get a deeper look into Jorgen’s upbringing (and a new angle on his relationship with Spensa), the many pilots of Skyward Flight do feel quite similar to one another. Even the alien Alanik isn’t all that different, though perhaps that is the point. Those condemned to remain as supporting cast obviously don’t get a whole lot of development, but do round out the team, making it feel larger than just a few pivotal characters.

One thought I did have while reading Skyward Flight, and this is true for the series as a whole, is that I don’t really know how old the characters are supposed to be. I would assume in the 18 to 25 bracket, as this is the general audience for young adult fiction, but the text doesn’t give a whole lot to go on. The behaviour is often quite juvenile, whereas the actions are more adult. This is a disconnect that crops up a lot in young adult works, and is among the reasons I don’t read a whole lot of it anymore. In fact, Skyward is the only YA science fiction I’m still keeping up to date with.

Clearly, with Sanderson’s involvement, this all ties in with the larger series (called the Cytoverse by some), and while the overall thrust of this trilogy of novels is resolved by the end, there is a lot left unanswered that I expect will come up either in Sanderson’s fourth novel, or else in future Patterson novellas. On a stylistic note, the prose fits in very well with the younger end of the YA spectrum that the novels likely appeal to. The only element that stands out is the humour. Sanderson’s humour is, for better and worse, very visible in his writing, particularly that geared for a younger audience. But it’s a humour that is absent here. there are jokes, and comedy, but the tone is markedly different. It’s this that makes me think Patterson is the sole author for much, if not all, of these stories.

A fun little diversion, this omnibus is a quick read that fills in gaps in the Skyward series, while opening new ones for future exploration.

If you enjoyed this book, you might also like:
The Lost Puzzler, by Eyal Kless
Skyward, by Brandon Sanderson
Rogue Squadron, by Michael A. Stackpole

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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