Do any of you remember the original Top Gun? Tom Cruise, the reckless bad boy in a flight suit. The killer soundtrack (my mother-in-law listened to her copy of the soundtrack so many times that it stopped working recently). The action. The needless love story. It was one of the few movies I actually watched as a kid (I’ve never been a movie kind of person.)
Some time ago, I got an email asking if I’d like to read an upcoming book billed as “Top Gun for the new millennium,” there was no way I could say no. I didn’t even read the jacket copy, which is unusual for me. I just gladly accepted a copy of the book, excited to read an action book.
I’m not typically an action reader. My books are always slow-burn kind of books. I like quiet. I like espionage. I like books that take their time and pull me in. So I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I finally got the chance to read Lions of the Sky.
I’m not going to lie, this book really does have very strong Top Gun vibes. Many other reviewers have referred to it as “the female Top Gun.” And we mean that in the best way; the women in this book are strong and empowered and real. Keely is a wonderful female protagonist and a wonderful complement to the sometimes brooding Sam Richardson.
This book is well-written, though at times it’s very apparent that this is a debut. Which is not to say it’s bad or lacking in craft, or anything. It’s just a debut novel. Not everybody is Yaa Gyasi, penning Homegoing and bringing the world to its knees. Chierici definitely has chops, especially when it comes to immersing the reader in the language and jargon of the Navy pilots. The reader is loaded down with the technical speak of Navy pilots, but I never felt overwhelmed or confused. It was as if I had always been in the cockpit with these pilots, speaking alongside them. It truly was very well done.
If I’m being honest, this was a great book. It was action-packed, fast-paced, and intriguing. It just wasn’t the book for me. And that’s okay. Not every book has to be the book for me. I can still acknowledge the craft of a skilled author. I can still acknowledge a good story when I see one.
And that’s where Lions of the Sky fell for me. A great book. One that will be enjoyed by fans of action or stories about war. But not my type of book. If this is your type of book, you’ll absolutely love it. If you want to live for a moment in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet, then this is exactly the book for you.