I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Series: Book 1 of Skyward Flight Novellas
Publisher: Listen Library (September 28, 2021)
Length: 5 hrs and 21 mins
Narrator: Suzy Jackson
Sunreach by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson is the first novella set in the Skyward universe, and even though it stars a different character, I believe having Skyward and Starsight under your belt would be highly beneficial before starting this. Sunreach also appears to serve as a bridge to the events in the upcoming third novel of the series, Cytonic, set to come out in November.
In Sunreach, we follow protagonist FM, one of the Defiant Defense Force pilots back on the planet Detritus. Now those on the planet must figure out a way to escape before the forces of the Galactic Superiority return to finish them all off. In the meantime, FM’s Skyward Flight squadmate Spensa has discovered the key to unlock the secret of their enemy’s hyperdrives—a species of cytonic slug known as the Taynix. With their stranded friend Minister Cuna trapped far way on the outpost of Sunreach, it has become even more crucial to discover how to harness the power of the slugs so they can make the jump to rescue her.
There’s a lot to process here for a novella, even though at just over 200 pages, it’s considered to be on the longer side. Still, this is why I would recommend reading the first two novels as a prerequisite, or else much of the nuance would be lost. For one, the importance of Spensa’s role would be more difficult to understand, as well as the social dynamics between all the pilots of Skyward Flight. The side plot with the slugs would also lack the same impact, for example, if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Doomslug yet.
As for FM, she is a fantastic protagonist and I’m glad she got to have her own story in Sunreach. That said though, I still feel she made for a better supporting character in the main series. While that might just be an effect related to the writing style, in general I didn’t think she was exceptionally well developed here beyond what would be expected, and of course, having prior knowledge of her character was helping a lot with that. Granted, through FM’s eyes we got to see the bigger picture of what’s happening on Detritus, and her interactions with others like Jorgen or Rig gave us plenty more insight on their lives and personalities, so we’re still talking a lot of positive effects.
In terms of the writing, as I’ve alluded to before, it’s a bit different. It doesn’t read exactly like Sanderson, which makes me think Patterson was given a fair amount of creative autonomy on this project, but she does make an excellent effort at making Sunreach stay true to the Skyward novels while still giving FM her own unique voice. One thing I did note though, is that compared to the main series, this feels slightly more YA, with greater emphasis given to the romantic side arc, as well as a lot more “cutesiness” added to the parts with the slugs whereas Sanderson’s handling of them involves more of the cheesy kind of humor.
Bottom line, you should probably check out Sunreach if you’re a mega fan of the Skyward series, which I admit I am, though at the end of the day, these novellas are probably meant to supplement the main novels given the “companion story” vibes. Regardless, I had a good time catching up with these characters and it’s always a delight to visit this world again. I was also fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to review the audiobook, which was a quick and fun listen, superbly narrated by the fabulously talented Suzy Jackson, as always.