I don’t just write books–I read them, too! I remain, as always, an unrepentant science fiction and fantasy geek, and I crave both classical and fresh takes on the material I love most–you know, kings, princes, queens, dragons, aliens, dragons, aliens, superheroes…oh, and magical cats are always a plus.
On to this review of Steelheart, book one in The Reckoners, by Brandon Sanderson.
These are NOT your Saturday morning cartoon heroes!
In Sanderson’s post-apocalyptic Earth, disaster comes in the form of a red starburst in the sky known as Calamity. Calamity’s presence turned a handful of normal folks into Epics, or people with varying degrees of superpowers.
The problem is, none of the Epics are heroes.
We’ve got a world full of power-hungry, hedonistic, amoral super-villains, vying for dominance over the remaining humans and each other. In Newcago, the most powerful Epic of all, Steelheart, has become the absolute ruler of his territory. He controls the elements, turns inert matter into steel at will, and he’s impervious to bullets, swords, fires, poison, and any weapon conceivable to the downtrodden people he controls.
Steelheart rules with vicious precision, and no one can fight him–no one except the Reckoners. Under the leadership of the shadowy, stern Prof, this mysterious group of rebels has dedicated itself to studying Epic weaknesses and assassinating them.
David Charleston barely remembers life before the Transversion, the moment that Steelheart took control of Newcago. But he remembers seeing Steelheart murder his father. He remembers one other very important thing. On the day his father died, David saw Steelheart bleed.
Armed with this knowledge, a fierce dedication to vengeance, and a young life filled with intensive observations of Epic behavior and weaknesses, David is determined to find the Reckoners and join them. He wants to fight. He wants to make a difference.
Most of all, he wants to see Steelheart bleed again–bleed, and die.
My Reading/Listening Experience
The audio version of Steelheart was well-done, with the reader creating a smooth, believable teen voice. Sanderson’s villain-infested Earth is fascinatingly bleak and believable, with many subtle, underlying mysteries that I hope will play out over time–like, what is Calamity? Where did it come from? Why does becoming Epic make people evil?
Really Cool Stuff
How to kill an Illusionist–that’s just pure fun. The classification of Epics and their powers–and their unusual and unexpected weaknesses–I thought that was pretty brilliant. The characters of Prof and Cody are very intriguing (though Cody needs to learn that “Y’all” is plural, never singular). The Epic named Nightwielder is truly horrifying.
Would I Let A Younger Kid Read This?
Yes. Though some of the violence is hard to take, I didn’t find it over-the-top, and it fits the story. I think the questions raised, namely what exactly constitutes evil in a place where so many have gone bad, are thought-provoking.
Would I Give This Book To My Daughter Who Reads Everything But Is Way Pickier Than Me And Gripes If I Give Her Something Boring?
This is right down her alley. Believable, loveable characters, very hate-able villains, mystery, suspense, and just the right blend of magic and technology. Nightwielder will give her bad dreams. Bahahahaha!!
But I Don’t Like This Genre…
Come on. Don’t tell me you never ever watched Superman or Batman or read a single superhero comic. READ IT!! This new, different take on superpowers plus the rebel group of determined folks just like us fighting immeasurable odds–it’s hard to resist. And did I mention, Nightwielder is seriously creepy? I hope this becomes a movie soon.
Read more about this book on Brandon Sanderson’s website. Looking forward to the sequel, Firefight.