Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Written By: Kellie - Jun• 03•13


Series: Reckoners, #1
Publisher: Delacorte
Publish Date: September 24th, 2013
Source: ARC

Rating: 4.5/5 – Well, looks like I’ll have to read more Brandon Sanderson books now.

About the bookTen 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. -Goodreads

Thoughts: I got this book by chance, standing in my very last lineup of BEA at the end of the third day. I had opted not to face what was sure to be an insane autograph line to get Steelheart earlier in the convention, and hadn’t really given it much thought. I knew Brandon Sanderson was a great guy, and a great writer but at that point I hadn’t actually read any of his books yet. And then one of the wonderful people who work at Random House handed Steelheart to me.

I started reading it that night.

The Reckoners series puts a really interesting spin on the superhero trope, which is what made me read this book before any of the other review copies I got this past week. Something strange happened on Earth ten years ago, giving ordinary men and women superpowers, but somehow everyone who has these powers is a power-hungry maniac. Locally, the leader of these superhumans is Steelheart, who is all but invincible and unchallenged in his rule over Newcago. After only reading the prologue, Steelheart had already become an iconic villain in my mind. Cruel, powerful, and mostly unknowable. The character strength of this villains character carried through to a lot of the rest of the book and did a lot towards making book one of The Reckoners a must read title for 2013.

I fell in love with Brandon Sanderson’s writing only three paragraphs in to the book. It was that good. Now, obviously I’m a little late to the “wow, this guy can write” party, but yeah… he can write. The descriptions and action sequences are equally great, the worldbuilding is basically flawless, and this book is nearly impossible to put down. There were some sections that didn’t work for me personally but I know that has everything to do with my own reading taste, so I won’t hold it against the book in the slightest. I’m just not that interested in the make of various guns or blow-by-blow accounts of every fight. If you like that stuff, you’ll love this book. If you don’t like that stuff, you’ll love this book.

The element that will stick with me most is the worldbuilding–mainly, the Epics. Everything from how their powers work to what their weaknesses are is entirely unique from anything I’ve ever read before. I had so much fun trying to unravel the various mysteries along with the main character, David, as well as cluing into a few things he wasn’t on to yet. There is a lot of information to chew on in this book and your imagination will go a little wild playing through various scenarios and possibilities.

David himself… meh. His character is almost the only thing that comes to mind for me in terms of what could be improved here. He just never really seemed like more than an assembly of facts–bad with metaphors, likes guns, reckless. To be fair, that made it easier to just step inside the character and experience the story for myself, but I would have preferred a lead character I was really rooting for as a person. His goal is easy enough to get behind though, so this doesn’t really detract from the storytelling. David is also a little too good, but I won’t get into that as I don’t want to give anything away.

My other tiny, tiny note here is that Steelheart didn’t read like Sanderson has a complete understanding of the YA genre. Parts of the book read like “this is what young adult books are supposed to have” instead of as an extension of the story, while others seemed to be over-simplified. At times David seemed both older and younger than he was supposed to be, which contributed a fair bit to my feeling like I didn’t really know or understand his character.

Don’t let either of those things detract from your desire to read this book though! It’s still a fantastic fantasy story, young adult or otherwise. There’s no question that Sanderson fans of all ages will be picking this one up when it comes out on September 24th, and I have no doubt that readers will love Steelheart.

Read this book!

Purchase Steelheart
@Amazon (US) @Amazon (CAN) @The Book Depository

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