Review: Skyhunter

Skyhunter by Marie Lu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Skyhunter, first in a new YA duology by Marie (Xiewe) Lu (Legend, Warcross), Skyhunter follows Talin, a Basean refugee who now fights as a striker in Mara, the sole remaining region not conquered by the Karensan Federation. Strikers work in pairs called shields and her partner, Corian, has trained with her since they were twelve. When a miscalculation puts a tragic end on that partnership, Talin is deeply affected. The sense of alienation that she has felt among the striker corps (where some call her a Basean rat) weighs heavily on her, as does the condemnation of Corian's family. So when a prisoner of war is publicly interrogated and at risk of execution, it's a surprise when Talin boldly intervenes based on her gut instinct that this prisoner must be saved. Her only friends, Adena and Jaren, are stunned by her behavior. And Redlin, the prisoner, is a mystery. He seems to long for death and yet was apprehended when deserting the Federation. He gives no answers to any questions. As a punishment for her interference, Redlin is given to Talin as her replacement shield placing her at great risk, since he has no training in the way strikers fight. Only Red has secret skills that the Marans have not foreseen.

There were quite a few things I liked about this novel. Talin has a disability that I'll leave to the reader to discover, but it is one that plays to her skills as a striker. I liked the non-romantic but very bonded relationships that striker shields have with each other. It added depth to the relationship these fighters against steep odds feel for their partners. I also liked the quartet of Talin, Redlin, Adena, and Jaren. The characters play off each other well. The world is a very grimdark one, as Mara is not a kind place, and it's the only free place left. The novel does not end on a note of optimism, however, and some readers may consider the ending a cliffhanger. I am looking forward to the as-yet-untitled second book in the Skyhunter duology.

The audiobook, narrated by Natalie Naudus, was an excellent production from Macmillan Audio.

I received a digital audio copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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