There are certain authors whose work I’ve fallen so in love with that I couldn’t help but devour everything they’ve written. While there are a few of Brandon Sanderson’s young adult books I haven’t read yet (one must put aside a few morsels for their next craving), I couldn’t wait to talk a bit about one of his newer young adult series and provide some impressions of his overall work, (hopefully without giving away any spoilers).
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Having just finished Skyward and Starsight, which are part of the Skyward Series, I thought now would be an excellent time to talk a bit about why I’ve come to love Brandon Sanderson’s books so much. Sanderson in no way disappoints with this new young adult (YA) series. I loved it so much, I’ll definitely be checking out more of his completed YA works soon.
I’ve fallen hard for Sanderson’s writing. He has an incredible imagination and wit, and his expertise in world building, not to mention his clever plots with all their intricate twists, always leave me hooked and wanting more at the end of every book. Each of his stories’ main characters are quite unique, but ultimately lovable. By the time I’m done reading one of his books, the characters feel like good friends. Before I go on listing attributes and the many reasons I love Sanderson’s writing, let’s take a look at his Skyward Series.
The Skyward Series
Skyward and Starsight, the first two of a young adult science fiction series, is filled with promise for many books to come. It’s set hundreds of years (if not more) into a post-apocalyptic future where humans have been stranded on a planet that’s a mere shell of what it once was. The civilization it once supported is long gone and the humans inhabit deep caverns, with the exception of a small air base on the planet’s surface. Penned in by a loss of knowledge, technology and aliens determined to keep them stranded on Detritus, survival is their only goal.
The main character, Spensa, is the daughter of a pilot in their burgeoning air force. Spensa can’t imagine growing up to become anything other than a pilot and warrior like her father. Her grandmother fills her head with tales of heroism from old Earth and she discovers her heritage is one that is feared by her people, though her grandmother insists it’s an honor to be able to hear the stars.
There are so many things to love about these books. Spensa, and the special friends she eventually makes are certainly high on the list. Sanderson has created a bold and captivating young girl whom we have the honor of seeing grow, learn and change with each hardship and challenge she encounters. Small in stature and in station, Spensa nevertheless sees herself as a fearsome warrior. She is determined to become the hero who saves her people and gain the acclaim, and love, she so deeply desires.
The world Sanderson creates in the Skyward Series is big, bold, imaginative and interesting. The first book keeps us entertained with Spensa’s antics as we learn more about her world. Along the way, we discover right beside her who and what she is, and a terrible truth about her father. But the revelations don’t stop there. The books are packed with action and adventure, not to mention more than a few life lessons about what it really means to be a hero.
It may be YA, but it’s YA everyone can easily appreciate for it’s clever plotlines and amazing characters (think Harry Potter or The Hunger Games ). While I was able to predict some things, I credit Sanderson’s cleverly covert use of foreshadowing. It feels really rewarding to be able to predict a few of the things to come, and yet he still consistently surprises his readers in so many other instances.
The books, both debuted high on the New York Times Bestsellers list with Skyward reaching #3 and Starsight debuting at #1 (Jabberwocky). Given the incredible world and characters Sanderson has created within Skyward and Starsight, I could easily see these stories someday make their way to Hollywood, though I know of no such deals in the works. Despite the foreignness of the world we’re submerged in, Sanderson paints a brilliant picture of the world with action that’s easy to imagine.
If you’re looking for the audiobook version of these books, they’re an Audible Exclusive. Start your free trial now and you’ll get 1 audiobook + 2 Audible Originals.
The Original Mistborn Saga
Despite how much I adore the Skyward Series, it’s still not my favorite series by Sanderson. That honor goes to the first trilogy of his I ever read, The Mistborn Saga. Admittedly, the series starts out in a bit of a slow and confusing way and I nearly gave up before clarity began to strike and the main characters became clearly defined. You’re highly rewarded when getting past that point, however, with an amazing and complex dystopia in dire need of some saviors. Of course those saviors are interestingly found in an unlikely band of thieves who you can’t help but love for each of their quirky personalities, unique abilities and rapier wit.
I was very excited to see the Mistborn world carried on in a second trilogy; The Wax and Wayne Series. Unfortunately, while my husband loved it, it didn’t hold the charm for me the first trilogy did, despite the very enjoyable antagonistic relationship between the two main characters. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as the original trilogy.
The Stormlight Archive
Then Sanderson reclaimed my reader’s heart with the Stormlight Archive. I’ve been waiting impatiently for the fourth book since I gobbled up book three. Unfortunately, it’s not due out until November 17, 2020. I’m counting down the days. One disadvantage to being a fan of Sanderson is that he’s a prolific writer who likes to keep several series going at once to keep his work fresh and interesting to him. Of course it also has its many advantages (such as a wide variety of material to choose from).
Rather than talk about each of these series on their own, however I want to talk about some of the things I love about Sanderson’s writing overall.
Want to have a bit of extra fun while someone else does the reading for you? You’re in luck! Micheal Kramer, an enthusiastic and talented voice actor reads The Mistborn Triologies and Stormlight Archive (the last joined by Kate Reading) on Audible, making for an especially entertaining way to enjoy these books.
Six Reasons to Love Sanderson
First, he takes exactly the time and space he needs to tell the whole story. Many of his novels are written in shifting third person perspective, where there’s more than one narrator, which keeps things interesting and offers different views of the world and conflicts in which we’re immersed. Thankfully, unlike some authors who use shifting points of view, he doesn’t repeat anything you already know, so it never becomes monotonous.
His characters are not dichotomous. They’re whole people, both hero and predictably fallible human, sometimes all at once. They love, they hate, they win, they lose, they make mistakes, just like all of us. He also fleshes them out fully so we understand why they do the things they do. One big bonus; many of characters have a wicked sense of humor.
Unlike some writers, Sanderson doesn’t ask you to suspend your disbelief (too much) and if it isn’t possible in our world, he makes sure it follows the rules of the cosmere he’s created. Everything has a reason and a purpose. It can sometimes take several books to learn what that reason is, but he always ties up any loose ends, making everything fit in a satisfying way.
Each of his series is quite different from the last. Even the two different Mistborn Trilogies are quite different from one another, from the characters to the premise. While one is based on a band of thieves who want to pull off the ultimate heist, the others are detective novels and are set at a different time.
One of the things I probably love most about Sanderson is his handling of his female characters, all of whom are forces of nature not to be underestimated. Even in the Wax and Wayne trilogy, which lacks a main female character, there are still plenty of strong women to fear and admire.
Finally, he’s a conscientious writer who is very aware of his fans. He keeps his blog updated on the status of his work and even provides some free downloads and supplemental materials. He also lists everything in the right order so you’ll never get lost. Just visit brandonsanderson.com to learn all about his books and be sure to check out his blog, which I find interesting both as a reader and a writer.
You can also check out this Audible interview of Brandon Sanderson, which is free.
No matter which books you choose to read first, you can hardly go wrong. If you want a completed series you can chow down on without waiting for the next book, you certainly couldn’t go wrong with the first Mistborn Trilogy. A fun, shorter read I haven’t mentioned yet and would probably be another good start is Legion. Legion is a collection of short detective stories centered around one central character named Stephen Leeds. Set in our world and time, it’s free of magic. That doesn’t mean it’s without its otherworldly charms. The book provides an interesting take on mental illness and the unique methods Leeds employs to solve crimes.
Left on my Brandon Sanderson Reading List are the following books:
I hope you enjoyed learning about the works of Brandon Sanderson and have found a few new books to add to your reading list. I can always count on one of Sanderson’s books to entertain, delight and transport me to unknown worlds. Next, I’ll likely be talking about the works of Anthony Doerr, and why his literary fiction never fails to delight.
What are some of your favorite fantasy authors? Who have you always been curious about but never read? I’m always looking for recommendations, too!