Series: Skyhunter #2
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Published: September 28th, 2021 (Roaring Brook Press)
Synopsis: As a Striker, Talin was taught loyalty is life. Loyalty to the Shield who watches your back, to the Strikers who risk their lives on the battlefield, and most of all, to Mara, which was once the last nation free from the Karensa Federation’s tyranny.
But Mara has fallen. And its destruction has unleashed Talin’s worst nightmare.
With her friends scattered by combat and her mother held captive by the Premier, Talin is forced to betray her fellow Strikers and her adopted homeland. She has no choice but to become the Federation’s most deadly war machine as their newest Skyhunter.
Red is no stranger to the cruelty of the Federation or the torture within its Skyhunter labs, but he knows this isn’t the end for Mara – or Talin. The link between them may be weak, but it could be Talin and Red’s only hope to salvage their past and safeguard their future.
While the fate of a broken world hangs in the balance, Talin and Red must reunite the Strikers and find their way back to each other in this smoldering sequel to Marie Lu’s Skyhunter.
Once the last free nation, Mara has fallen to the forces of the Karensa Federation. The surviving Strikers are scattered and Talin taken by the Premier to be changed into their deadliest weapon, a Skyhunter. With her mother being held captive, Talin has no choice but to obey, knowing that as more time passes the procedure that is converting her into a Skyhunter will soon take away even her freedom to think, placing her completely under the Premier’s control. Meanwhile, Red, as a former Skyhunter himself, believes that there is still hope for Talin and the weak link between them may be the answer to uniting the rebelling forces and defeating the Federation once and for all.
It took me way longer to get through this book than it should have and the reason for that was mostly due to my not remembering anything more than the barest details of what happened in Skyhunter. Steelstriker jumps into things straight away, picking up some time after Talin’s capture, so there’s little time spared to recap previous events, which meant I had to piece things together as I read. However, that didn’t make this any less interesting a read, as between Marie Lu’s writing and the new world building, it remained an engaging narrative while I was catching up on the plot. The world building was fantastic and everything I could have hoped for from this book. Between the setting of this dystopian world, the complex politics, and more information about the advanced civilization that preceded this world, it was undoubtedly the highlight of this book for me. The plot did have its share of unexpected twists and I certainly didn’t see many of them coming.
“That’s the thing about inventing new things. You can only control the genesis of it, not the evolution.”
Talin was a wonderful character and her moral conflict throughout this book was very well portrayed, with the prospect of the Premier hurting her mother if she defies him and her friends being captured and killed if she goes along with his orders. One of the best things about this sequel was definitely the addition of Red’s POV, and the way things stand at the beginning of this book make the second POV absolutely crucial. His character finally feels more well rounded and the glimpses into his past and how he ended up as a Skyhunter were pieces of the story I was waiting for the most.
The side characters from the first book, particularly Jeren and Adena, whom I had hoped to see more of in this book, largely took a backseat, which I am rather disappointed about. The antagonist, who was the Premier, was more or less a textbook villain, and while there was a valiant effort at building his backstory at attempting to inspire a little empathy for his character, it wasn’t enough to really sway my opinion because there wasn’t anything very different or stand-out about him.
The ending was an action-packed sequence but, it felt really standard in a way. There were no unexpected, last minute twists (that is, if you’ve been paying attention to the story so far), so I just feel like it didn’t add anything significant other than wrapping things up. Still, it did tie up all the loose ends neatly. I think, of the two, I liked Skyhunter better, but overall, Steelstriker was a fast-paced read and a satisfying conclusion to this duology. I would highly recommend this series and I’m looking forward to seeing what Marie Lu’s next book will be!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: