Leta’s Book Review: Skyhunter and Steelstriker by Marie Lu

Skyhunter and Steelstriker were the final two novels I read in 2021. I reread Skyhunter and then finished off the story with Steelstriker since it came out last year. To share my thoughts on this duology without giving any spoilers, I’ll talk more about Skyhunter before giving my thoughts and feelings about the ending that Steelstriker provided.

First, a brief summary: Talin is one of the famed Strikers of Mara, a young soldier trained to fight and kill the Ghosts of the Federation. These Ghosts are genetically altered humans programmed to kill those who oppose the Federation, and therefore they present a huge threat to Mara, the last free nation. Red is a Skyhunter, the Federation’s newest experiment. After he escapes towards Mara and, after capture, brought to the Strikers for justice, the pieces begin falling into place for both Red and Talin. Their journeys cross lines and bring grief, but ultimately the question is: will they protect Mara? Will they ever be free from the Federation?


This novel was interesting to read. Afterwards, I felt content with the story so far, but I wasn’t wowed by anything. This isn’t to say it was a bad book – it wasn’t! I thoroughly enjoyed the story and Marie Lu’s writing was complex while still allowing for an easy and quick read. I went and looked up some other reviews on Goodreads and I agree with what a lot of them say: there isn’t much new about this novel. It’s comfortable. If you’re looking for a read that doesn’t require too much effort to keep up with the story and has well-built characters, this is definitely the read for you. Because of this, I gave this book 4/5 stars. To me, a four-star book is good, but not a wow. Five stars is a wow book, and three stars is an okay book.

I loved that Talin spoke through sign language. This is the first book I read with a mute character, though not the only one. Not only is the main character using sign language, but sign language is built into society’s everyday existence through the Strikers.

It’s adventurous and exciting without being a quest plot. The travelling is mainly over shorter distances and even it’s shortened to cut out any boring filler parts. There aren’t many pages, but every one of them has something important happening on it.

All of the characters’ introductions are solid and give a very clear base to build upon in the next novel. In the same vein, the Federation is characterized clearly and without questions. It’s quite trope-heavy, but I think it worked with the tone of the novel. Constantine Tyrus, the Premier of the Federation, seems to be quite two-dimensional in this first novel. He doesn’t have much “screen time” and is a classic evil villain at this point. I’m excited to see what his character becomes.


Steelstriker and Final Thoughts

Steelstriker also got four stars from me. It was good, but not a wow book. It matched tone with Skyhunter and felt like a comfortable end to a comfortable story. Oddly, it felt like there should have been more in between. There’s a time jump between the two novels of six months, and it felt weird. Rebellions like the one that exists in the background of this novel generally take much longer to occur. It was alluded to have been happening for much longer, but if that was the case, why were we hearing Talin’s story? If the rebellion was the main plot point, why didn’t we see this from the point of view of someone else? Interesting questions.

The adventure continued but in a different and more complicated way. The sides of “good” and “evil” were questioned, which always makes for good tension. All of the characters developed the right amount for a duology, meaning that the development didn’t feel too little and slow or too much too fast.

Again, I find myself thinking about having this duology become a trilogy. I think it would have been a stronger series and allowed for a further dive into the aftermath of the climax. I’m always torn on the “five years later” type of epilogue. They give a final image, yes, but it doesn’t always fit with the tone I want. The opening image of a book or series should be reflected in the final image (or so I was taught). Giving it to me so many years later almost ruins the beats of the novel and leaves it feeling unfinished.

The Federation remained as trope-heavy as before, and the rebellion was equally trope-heavy. It did match with the story, but I found myself wanting a more complex two or three-sided conflict. Constantine Tyrus surprised me, however, in good ways. I thought he might stay as a trope evil leader, but because of the circumstances in Steelstriker, we learn why he is the way he is. His backstory helps to bring his actions into perspective and meshes the sides of “good” and “evil”.


Overall, Skyhunter and Steelstriker are worth a read. The series gets a four-star rating from me. I was able to read both books in a two-day span of time, so it’s quick enough that if you end up not enjoying it, it won’t take up too much of your time. Check it out from your local library if you don’t want to commit – it’s a great way to try out new series and novels!

Skyhunter: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Steelstriker: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5


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