Book Review: Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson
This might be the first time ever, including the days when I was writing alongside Hannah (not on that blog though, an older one), where I’ve reviewed a book alongside its release. At a time when it might even be actually relevant to someone — rather than just reviewing whatever it was I happened to be reading.
Although truth be told — It was the case that I just happened to start reading this series in time to read Cytonic at release. My next book to read – Risen (Alex Verus #12) is going to be (somewhat) close to it’s launch date too! Exciting! I’ve been reading this series as it has released for the last few books at least, but of course I hadn’t been doing reviews at the time.
I’m certainly not going to start chasing books to review just because they’re new — I’m going to just keep on reading what I like. But given how many series there are where I am waiting for releases at the moment1 there’s bound to be at least a few more cases coming up in the future of this happy happenstance. :)
For now though? Cytonic!
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: Skyward #3
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Published: November 25th 2021
Source: Personal Copy
Read: November 25 – December 9, 2021 (on Kindle)
Rating: 4 of 5 stars (I really liked it)
A dark sphere appeared before me in the centre of the room.
Being the third book of the series, the blurb contains many spoilers for the first book.
As such, I won’t copy it here. You may read it here if so inclined.
“Sometimes it’s too easy to forget the things you should remember — and far too easy to remember the things you really should forget.”
Cytonic is simultaneously an escalation and a step back in the series. So far, we’ve had a jump from a single-planet stage, to one set amongst a galactic empire. This one sees a shift to a whole other dimension. So… Yes. Quite the jump in scope and scale.
On the other hand, Starsight (Skyward #2) was, for the most part, urgent. Time was a constant pressure and events happened in quick succession, keeping the story moving forward. By comparison, it took me a little bit to warm up to Cytonic. In fact – I was almost 50% of the way through before I became fully engaged with the story again.
It wasn’t just the drop in story pacing though. Like said in the Skyward review — I’m perfectly happy reading a character-driven story where ‘not much’ happens. Here, it felt like not only was nothing happening on the story front but nothing was really changing with the characters either. Worse- many of the characters we’d come to know over the course of the previous books were no longer even present, save for in small interludes.
With all this said then — you might rightly wonder why on earth I still gave it 4 out of 5 stars (I really liked it).
That comes down to the second half of the book.
In the second half — we see Sanderson at his best. We see Spensa crafting new relationships — rocky as they might be, at first — with a new group. A self-styled ‘pirate’ group, if you must know! We see Spensa continue to develop an understanding of views other than her own and expand her worldview.
Not to mention, it doesn’t take too much time beyond this for the pace and urgency lacking so far to return. The Delver threat continues to increase alongside Spensa’s understanding of what they are.
In the end notes of the book — Sanderson noted this book took the most rewrites out of any book he has ever written. I wonder now, whether some of that is what is being felt in the earlier sections of the book.
Whatever the case may be — without spoiling the conclusion to this one, I can say I’m very much looking forward to Defiant when it comes out (estimated Spring 2023) which will be, as I understand it, the conclusion to this series.
The groundwork has been laid with a great care to this point — can’t wait to see how Sanderson brings it home!