CYTONIC by Brandon Sanderson (BOOK REVIEW)
Cytonic is the third instalment in the Skyward series and honestly, I’m a little conflicted about it.
This review contains spoilers for the first two books so if you haven’t read those yet, you might want to go and do that first.
Spensa has survived her infiltration of the Superiority and she knows about their plans for war and for the Delvers. In desperation, she jumps into a portal that the Superiority use to get rid of people who have been banished, and she finds herself in the Nowhere.
Here, we see Sanderson’s skill as a worldbuilder – the Nowhere is great fun with a huge range of different environments to contend with. Spensa immediately encounters an adventurer called Chet. He could have been straight out of one of the old stories Spensa loves so much and he has almost as much dramatic flair as Spensa does. The two of them make for some fun exchanges and when you add M-Bot into the mix, I was chuckling often throughout the book.
Spensa’s character goes through a lot of growth in this book and it’s really good to see her wrestling with questions of what it means to do the right thing. How much of herself does she have to give before it’s finally – finally – enough. There’s a great maturity in the conclusions that she comes to, and especially in a world where women are so often taught to give until they have nothing left, it was really refreshing to see the conclusion that it’s okay to stop. That you’re not a bad person just because you choose to preserve yourself, to have some life for yourself, that not every action has to be for others.
My big problem with this book is that a lot of it felt like filler. The stakes felt low compared to the previous two books, the journey felt like it dragged on longer than it had to, and the interactions with the side characters were less enjoyable than the ones with Skyward Flight. Sanderson writes long books and that is not a fact that I consider a problem, although I know it can be off-putting for some. But of all the Sanderson books that I’ve read, this is the first one which felt too long. Perhaps it’s just the common, middle book problem, where the action falls while the characters go on journeys, collect items of power and gather themselves for the next big push against the enemy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still looking forward to book 4, I will still finish reading the series. I need to know how it all shakes out. But I’m looking forward to it a little less than I was before Cytonic.