First, before the review, I do have to make an apology. Somehow, I glossed over the fact that these novellas were written by Brandon Sanderson and Janci Patterson. This would include the previous novella I reviewed. I am sorry but to make it clear, it would be both Sanderson and Patterson who’ve worked on these, not just Sanderson.
Considering how well the first novella was written, I thought the second would be just as interesting. However I noticed an issue with ReDawn that wasn’t quite present with Sunreach. Despite both being novellas of the Cytonic series, the first novella felt like it’s own complete story while the second novella didn’t quite feel complete. In fact, it made me wonder if the only reason these were made to be novellas was because they were in between two of the Cytonic books and not featuring the main character of the series, Spensa Nightshade. While it is lacking in several ways, ReDawn is still a quick and enjoyable read that progresses the events of the Cytonic series in a meaningful way.
One of the fears I had with novellas was that there wouldn’t be enough character development present. The brevity of the books means there isn’t quite enough time to breathe and let the characters grow. I was pleasantly mistaken with FM in Sunreach but my fears were realized in ReDawn with Alanik. Unfortunately the pacing of the plot is so fast that she’s not given much time to really ponder and grow as a character. The lack of a fleshed out internal conflict as Alanik fights to protect her people makes it all the more difficult to make us really care about her. That’s not to say there isn’t anything there, it’s more that she doesn’t have enough time to really develop from her experiences as she’s flung into the next conflict and the one after that.
What was surprising, however, was how well developed the supporting cast of characters turned out to be. Not necessarily the Urdail characters, but the human characters we’ve known since the beginning were able to be fully realized in ReDawn. This was especially true with Jorgen as we got to see him go through so many conflicting emotions and uncertainty. The same could be said with the other members of Skyward flight as they both follow and disobey orders as a unit. It’s a very “found family” type feel to the squad and I absolutely adore that. It might be fair to say that Alanik served more as a vehicle to drive the story forward and the real main characters are the members of Skyward Flight with how much they had gone through.
While this is most certainly a character driven story, it almost feels like it’s a plot driven story. The pacing of the story is so wildly fast that it feels like the characters can only really react as they’re flung from event to event. The characters are given some time to think and discuss, but it’s rather brief as the stakes are quite dire and immediate. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, as the story is fairly engaging in that it affects the overall story and setting of the Cytonic series. The ramifications of ReDawn feels more interesting to the overall series than the story within this novella.
The Cytonic series always felt very human focused as Superiority has always been trying to eradicate humanity and the humans on Detritus were in a hopeless situation. However book 2, Starsight, expanded the scope of the universe and revealed a far larger and more complex intergalactic community, not all of whom are on good terms with the Superiority. Alanik and the Urdail of ReDawn are one such race and it was interesting to see a disunified species dealing with the tempting offer of Superiority’s so-called peace. They mirrored the same problem facing humanity with Superiority’s dealings and seeing how their reasoning for resisting the Superiority was so different. They were facing utter annihilation, but they still chose to resist for principled reasons. What’s more is that the humans reactions, while understanding the logic, also feel like they’d like to have the option at least. It’s a fascinating comparison of the treatment of the two species that feels like it should have been expanded more than what a novella could allow for.
With how rapid the pacing felt at times, it was impressive how the writing never failed to keep the flow of the language as smooth as it was. The tone was consistent with the previous books but because Alanik has what feels like an entirely different perspective than any of the human characters, there was a noticeable seriousness to how she analyzed everything compared to how it was viewed through Skyward flight. She was far more straight forward and blunt in how she viewed things and it showed in how the scenes were described through her eyes. The language used for her absolute shock to what the humans find an every day occurrence is also noteworthy in showing just how different their situations are.