Skyhunter is a story about struggling with grief, trauma, and hopeless situations, but finding light even in dark circumstances – a story that feels relevant in our day and age. Marie Lu successfully combined an interesting premise with a few unique elements, including a mute main character and zombie-like monsters called Ghosts. She also did an excellent job writing character relationships; not just the romance (of which there is only a smidge), but also the family relationships and friendships. The characters were distinct, and the plot was fast-paced. Skyhunter is a solid addition to YA dystopia and does a great job balancing its more serious themes with an interesting story.
On the other hand, Skyhunter didn’t do anything new. Marie Lu successfully wrote a story about characters finding something to fight for even in the midst of despair. However, this pulled the focus away from some of the other story elements, resulting in a predictable plot and unremarkable worldbuilding. Marie Lu effectively accomplished her goal, but a few of the story elements were lacking.
Skyhunter is the first book in a duology, and the sequel, Steelstriker, has already been published.
Profanity/Language: 21 mild obscenities.
Violence/Gore: Description of “Ghosts,” monsters that were originally humans, and it’s mentioned that their throats must be slit for them to die – if a Ghost bites a human the human will transform into a Ghost; two instances where a character kills an injured comrade who been bitten by a Ghost, according to protocol; report of a character having to kill family members that had been transformed into Ghosts; a girl’s vocal cords were injured by poison gas when she was a child; extended scene where characters fight and kill monsters, some detail; a character remembers seeing guards kill citizens for breaking rules, no detail; a character calls for a character on trial to be executed; a captured enemy is flogged almost to death; report that a captured enemy was starved for days; a character remembers fleeing her home and nearly being shot by soldiers when she was a child; a character remembers seeing a character break another’s neck, little detail; report of enemy soldiers being tortured; a character thinks about killing another; a character is seen with bruises inflicted by an abusive family member; extended battle scene includes deaths of both humans and monsters; a character remembers being cut open for a scientific experiment; a character has a nightmare about an incident that traumatized them as a child, involving nearly being shot, poison gas, and deaths of other characters, some detail; a character has a brief nightmare where a soldier tells her to shoot herself, and she does so, no detail; characters provoke and injure a monster that has been captured, starved and mistreated, some detail; characters perform a scientific experiment with blood, not gory; a character cuts a captured monster to distract it; a character tells a story about the death of a family member, no detail; characters are shot at; characters fight hand to hand; a character is shot with a drug; people at different stages of being turned into monsters are put on display; two instances where characters knock another unconscious; several characters are killed with little or no detail; monsters and people being deliberately transformed into monsters are kept in a lab; characters fight briefly; characters fight resulting in injuries or death for some characters, not graphic; a battle takes place; three instances where a character kills a monster; soldiers kill a civilian woman; 4 instances where characters are injured; a character remembers watching a family member killed by soldiers, some detail; a character shows signs of having been beaten; a character threatens to slit another’s throat.
Sex/Nudity: a character makes a sexual joke about a race of people; a few mentions of a male character having a crush on another male character; characters hold hands twice; a few instances where a character thinks another character looks attractive; characters leer at another character; character suggests another character slept with a number of people to achieve her position; a character develops a crush on another character; a female character bathing in public baths is approached by a male character – nothing is seen and no descriptions, but the female glimpses his bare back and thinks it’s too long since she’s been with a man; a male character implies he is in love with another male character.
Mature Subject Matter:
War; trauma; death (general); death of family members; death of friends; racism; social inequality; torture; grief; invasion; refugees; parental abuse; homosexual relationships.
Mention of characters drinking alcohol.