#17 Steelheart

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Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Steelheart, book 1 of the Reckoners trilogy, is Brandon Sanderson’s foray into YA. And before you start saying that Mistborn was YA – it was not. Nope.

That said, there are a lot of similarities between Mistborn : The Final Empire and Steelheart. Which is understandable, since they’re both about a crack team of badasses planning and trying to take down someone who seems invincible. They both feature societies ruled by all powerful but malevolent figures. Which is good, because The Final Empire was one helluva great book. (my review)

Of course, it’s not just a rehash. Steelheart brings plenty of cool new stuff to the table. There’s the Epics, regular people that have superhero like powers, but use them for evil. Brandon brings his epic fantasy worldbuilding chops to urban fantasy, creating a bunch of super awesome and interesting superpowers, weapons, societies and whatnot. He paints a pretty chilling picture of a dystopian chicago ruled by a bunch of ruthless Epics. It isn’t as well crafted as his fantasy magic systems though. Mostly because instead of having one type of power, he’s gone and created dozens of types of Epics. So they don’t really fit together cohesively. Which is okay, because when have superhero (or villain) powers made any sort of sense? And there are the trademark twists that make surprise the hell out of you, but then make you go “Of course that happened, how did I not see it coming?”

But I knew Sanderson can nail worldbuilding and plotting already. What pleasantly surprised me was the protagonist, David. Steelheart being YA, it is narrated in first person, which seems to be some sort of unspoken rule of the genre. It being YA was also the reason I took my time picking it up, because I generally don’t like YA stuff – Hunger Games felt okay at best, while Divergent I couldn’t even get through. But I needn’t have worried. Steelheart is fun. There’s action, there’s tension, there’s mystery. Almost like a book version of Avengers in how popcorn crunchingly entertaining it is.

Anyway, David. He’s a really well written character, which is good because most of the others are lacking a bit in depth. He’s conflicted, he has baggage, he has his hopes and fears, his quirks, his metaphors. Oh my God, the metaphors. David’s always coming up with outrageously bad metaphors. So bad they’re funny. And it isn’t like they make no sense – they do. They almost make sense, which is what makes them so funny. Loved it.

One thing that really nagged at me though was the swearing. The writer isn’t comfortable with swearing, which I am totally okay with. Not all books have to have them. What I’m not okay with are lame made up swear words. So instead of damn, shit, fuck! we get Sparks! Calamity! 

Really, Brandon?  Sparks?

But that’s a small niggle in what is a well crafted high adrenaline action story. I found myself flying through the pages, gripped from page one until I finally got to the end. I’m still reeling from how awesome the climax was.

So yeah, it may not be a life-changing piece of high literature, but it is fun and entertaining – as good as it gets.

My Rating : 4.25/5


Author Site | Buy on Amazon

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7 thoughts on “#17 Steelheart

  1. I got to interview Brandon yesterday for an upcoming signing in Phoenix, and he told a great story about the origin of Steelheart. Apparently he was stuck in traffic and wished he had a superpower to blow up a car that cut him off!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am meeting Brandon Sanderson in San Diego on the 20th for his release of Firefight. I haven’t read it yet, but I picked up the book today and am about to sequester myself unitl I am finished.
    Thanks for the great review of Steelheart.

    Liked by 2 people

      • He’s really sweet. My wife and I met him at Phx Comicon when Memory of Light was outand then later at a signing for Words of Radiance, and my wife got all flustered and starstruck. He was really gracious and asking questions, taking time to chat while signing our books, even though there was a couple hundred people in line for the event. Rothfuss was friendly when I met him, but he was all business and almost apologetic that he couldn’t chat more, Brandon took his time in his fan interactions regardless. Scott Lynch was actually the best – he chatted forever and doodled in our books.

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  3. On YA. It is a sub genre as diverse and wide spread as its adult equivalent. While I usually prefer the adult side it would be a mistake to write it of based on some of its most sub par examples (Divergent may have been popular but it was truly terrible). If you ever are looking for a quick and easy (and good) YA title to divert your attention hit me up, I got a few recs.

    I am Sandersoned out at this point. Need to get to the Words of Radiance eventually just so I can keep up with the community. But prob wont read him again until the next Mistborn is out.

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