11 hours 58 minutes| Macmillan Audio| Dystopian| Release Date: 9/29/2020
Skyhunter feels like a follow-up to Legend (which is almost a decade old at this point). It has all of the things that made Legend such an enticing read; betrayal, biological warfare, experimentation, and coats. Lu loves to write characters in sweeping coats…though there are noticeable fewer epaulets in this one.
Set in a dystopian future where the ominous Federation cannibalized independent nations in Mara, Skyhunter tells the story of Talin a refugee in one of the last strongholds who lost her ability to speak after a Federation attack. Against all odds she is recruited into an elite fighting force who communicate via sign language.
The Federation is pretty horrifying. They have an army of Ghost–humans that have been turned into vicious pale-faced mindless zombie creatures that grow larger with age. I kept picturing Slenderman. I’ve never seen Attack on Titan (because I can’t with gore) but I got a lot of those vibes from this.
What always stands out to me about Lu is the perspective she takes in her YA. There was a time where every YA was about a “chosen one” teen in a school/program/academy being trained to do or be a thing. I’ve always appreciated that Lu skips the origin story.
Like in Legend our main protagonist finds themselves teaming up with a rival. In this case it’s Redd, a soldier who has been physically altered by the Federation and finds himself on a quest for vengeance. Total Legend vibes.
This is the first Lu book I’ve read that’s not from Penguin and I feel like the editors at Roaring Press were tighter and more economical with the length. It hits many of the same beats as Legend and also relies on flashbacks but instead of lingering they are kept short and to the point.
I also feel like Talin’s mom was a redux of Day’s mom in Legend. I got a little frustrated with the mom in that series and I like Talin’s mom isn’t afraid to get in on the action.
As someone who is not disabled, I can’t comment on the representation but I thought the way Lu committed to incorporating sign language and selective mutism into her world-building was unique. I was really afraid she was going to “cure” Talin at some point and I’m glad that didn’t happen.
I listen to this on audio and i enjoyed Natalie Naudus unobtrusive narration. She does great male voices and I think she was careful to use a certain tamber to indicate dialogue was being done via sign language. If you purchase the audiobook there is an interview between her and Lu at the end so the audiobook is like 20 minutes shorter than it appears.
I was a big fan of Lu’s debut series and (even though Kat keeps pushing me to The Young Elites) I honestly haven’t been able to really get into any of her series. This one totally pulled me in. Also, I lurk pretty hardcore on book Twitter and I feel like this book and Lu did not get the hype it deserved. Even the Goodreads stats are surprisingly low. Is this because of the move from Penguin? Is it because Dystopian isn’t big anymore?