A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Skyward is the futuristic space adventure focused on the training of fighter pilots. Written by Brandon Sanderson (Steelheart), it's the first of a planned trilogy, and it features many battles against alien pilots. Some key characters perish, but there's little actual bloodshed. Swearing is limited to perhaps a dozen uses of "damn," the characters preferring "scud" as an all-purpose expletive. Sexual content is limited to vague flirting.
What's the story?
At the beginning of SKYWARD, would-be space pilot Sansa wants nothing more than to prove that she's capable of battling the alien hordes that want to destroy the human inhabitants of the planet Detritus. Everyone believes that Sansa's father was a coward and a traitor, but she's determined to demonstrate that they're mistaken and that she'll be able to restore her family's honor. Her biggest advantage is the discovery of a better spacecraft abandoned generations ago. If Sansa can refurbish M-Bot, she and her compatriots stand a chance of fending off extinction.
Is it any good?
Space battles don't always work well in prose, but this sci-fi adventure adds a human dimension that will keep the pages turning. Would-be pilot Sansa is an engaging protagonist: gutsy and determined, if more than a bit stubborn and quick to make snap judgments. The supporting cast is diverse and interesting.
Author Brandon Sanderson does a good job of choreographing the space battles, so that the reader knows what's happening and what the stakes are. But the book seems longer than it needs to be, and some of the revelations at the end feel rushed. Readers who enjoy Ender's Game wil likely appreciate Skyward and look forward to the saga's next installment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Skyward addresses the nature of courage and cowardice. What makes someone a hero or a traitor?
Skyward features a battleship equipped with artificial intelligence. Do you think computers will ever be able to think as humans do? What differences might there be between a human brain and a computer?
If humanity ever encountered aliens, what differences might there be between them? What qualities make a human?
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