I imagined those broken rocks as the broken bodies of my enemies, their bones shattered, their trembling arms reaching upward in a useless gesture of total and complete defeat. I was a very odd little girl.
Spensa (Spin) is an odd girl in an odd world. Humanity is trapped on an alien planet for reasons (initially) unknown. The sky is filled with rubble and debris that occasionally rains down on them and from time to time aliens come down and try to kill them. Spin’s father is a pilot, trying to protect them, but he dies early in the book (before a timeskip), called a coward–seemingly one of the worst things you can call someone in this world.
It’s fascinating world building, a hallmark of Sanderson. Well done that.
So of course Spin has to make it into pilot training, to prove to everyone that she can fight–and hopefully to prove that the stories about her father can’t possibly be true. It’s a ‘magical school’ type book, grounded in SciFi, reminiscent of Ender’s Game among others. Only far more brutal. As her classmates drop or are pulled by rich parents left and right, you get a feeling for just how desperate the world is. And yet, there’s a sense of wonder to being a pilot to share with Spin:
We watched the debris fall, burning light reflecting against my canopy.
“So…,” I said. “You’re saying that by the end of our training, you expect us to be able to use grappling hooks made of energy to smash our enemies with flaming chunks of space debris?”
“That…,” I whispered, “that’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard.”
The last neat bit comes across with the discovery of an old but technically advanced crashed starship with an AI that gives it a wonderful personality all its own . Like those ’teen outcast finds a dragon and raises it in hiding’ gone scifi. Well done that. Well done.
If there was absolutely anything negative to say about the story… it’s that only 1 of the planned 4 books is out so far! Book 2 is due out this fall, but 3 and 4 not for a few years. And that’s only because Sanderson has to finish his 10 book doorstopper fantasy Epics , the second trilogy of a 4 arc fantasy epic across time , and all the other projects he’s still working on.
Sanderson, you are a wonderful mad genius… and you’ve done it again.
Give it a try. I don’t think you’ll regret it.