Starsight is a wonderful piece of science fiction, but it also falls short of Sanderson’s lofty standards.

In the first part of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series, we witnessed Spensa fight insurmountable odds to realize her dreams of becoming a pilot. The fact that I’d managed to snag a signed copy glossed over the fact that the book, although brilliant, did not meet Sanderson’s Cosmere standards. While the stakes get much higher in Starsight, it falls short of Skyward.

Sanderson has been the gold standard in fantasy world-building for over a decade now, and he demonstrates that he is well equipped in taking his skills to the stars as he creates unique and entrancing planets and species. Spensa’s friends from the first book are replaced with a plethora of aliens, who come in all shapes and sizes, including cute fox-like kitsens, invisible figments who can only be detected by smell, and unborn trial babies. We don’t see much of her human friends, except for Jurgen who goes on a side mission.

However, we are well compensated with a lot of M-Bot, who continues to be awesome and grapples with an existential crisis of its own. A lot of M-Bot’s idiosyncrasies from the first book, including a particular obsession with mushrooms, make startling sense. Spensa’s pet slug, Doomslug also becomes integral to the story in interesting ways you never see coming.

“Spensa,” M-Bot said. “Not to be a nag, but it has currently been fifteen hours since you have slept and—as you’re adjusting to this station’s sleep cycle—I recorded only four hours of actually restful sleep for you last night.”
“Yeah, so?” I snapped.
“You get cranky if you don’t sleep.”
“No I don’t.”
“Do you mind if I record your tone for later, to use as evidence against you in a future disagreement?”
Scud. Arguing with a machine was an unreal level of frustrating.

While Sanderson has a penchant for portraying beings with omnipresent powers, particularly in the Mistborn trilogy, the mysterious delvers don’t get as good a treatment in Starsight. But they are still intriguing, and I’m really interested in understanding more about them in the next book. Another letdown was the final arc, which by Sanderson’s lofty standards, felt rather tepid. I love how his books slowly build to a crescendo before exploding into an action laden finale, with some earth-shattering twists thrown in for good measure. While there is enough action to keep you turning the pages, it still leaves you wanting for more.