Steelheart (Reckoners Trilogy #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Edition: Hardcover, 386 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Superhero, Young Adult
Apparently Sanderson’s superpower is super-writing! (Super-original too, I know)
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.
This was my first Sanderson novel, and I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Nothing to do with Sanderson personally – I have only heard he is one of the greatest epic fantasy writers of all time. I just have this thing with a superhero stories. I have nothing against a superheros, I do really enjoy Spiderman, Batman, all the comic guys (and I am often referred to as THOR – think about that ladies ;p haha!), but I am just sick of them. I think it may be because of the super-oversaturation of them in media for the last what, fifteen years of so? Either way, I hear superhero and I tend to stray away. The only reason I picked this up was because Sanderson will be coming to a town near me for his Firefight book tour. (Update: My town was one of the cancelled dates 😦 so that never happened).
For me to like this story as much as I did, not wanting to have anything to do with the plot, says something about how good a writer the author must be.
This is a superhero novel, just as advertised. Instead of us taking the view of a superhero or watching a superhero in action, this story takes the view-point of David – not a superhero. This may have been a reason I like the story more than expected.
At the age of 8, David witnessed Steelheart, one of the strongest superheroes in the world, kill his father right in front me. This was right after the Calamity, the event when the Epics (superheroes) first start to appear, and no one really understood them, anything that was happening or what the Epics were up to. Luckily though, David is able to escape from Steelheart, and after that begins his life goal of one day being able avenge his father’s death and kill Steelheart. Ten years later David is an adult and now the entire world is run by these Epics. He is now seeking to join a group of ordinary people called the Reckoners whose mission to kill every Epic on the planet.
These Epics have a variety of powers. Everything from being invincible and to able to fly, to being able to predict the future or have quick reflexes. Each of these Epics also having varying degrees of how powerful each of their abilities are. Some may only be able to pick up a car, while another may able to throw a plane!
I really enjoyed was how Sanderson named all of these Epics. What I do love about all the comic superhero is how simple their names are. Spiderman got bit a spider. Batman had that things with bats. Sanderson does the same thing. There are no wacky, trying to be cool names like, Dr. Super-Ultra Badass 5000. We have Deathpoint. He kills people by pointing at them. Thus he has a death-point. So simple. so genius.
The best part about this story are the Epic’s weaknesses. Every Epic has a weakness and it could literally be anything! Just like the superpowers they have, their weaknesses seem to be completely random. It could be an object, a color, an Epic thinking a certain though, or even somebody who is a specific age at a specific day! Completely random. What makes Steelheart so special is not only that he is invincible, but that none has any idea what he weakness is. And that David is the only one to have ever seen, or know, that he can bleed.
Through out the novel we are trying to figure out what it is that is Steelheart’s weakness, and this in my opinion is where the novel shines. One the best ways to keep a reader reading is to create some kind of mystery, whether it’s with the plot lines or character – something to keep them engaged and thinking. What Sanderson does great he is lays down multiple theories of what this weakness could be. It is not just just here is choice A, then it is proved wrong so we try theory B. What Sanderson does is overtime he lays does choices A, B, C, and D, and as novels goes on he does something things to proves one right, another wrong, or contradict a previous statement. These ‘clues’ could be from characters dialogs, our protagonist thoughts about it, or because the weakness could be anything, you make up your own theory about it.
I caught myself several times with my own theories, arguing with different characters because I thought they were wrong or because they proved one of my theories wrong and I wanted to be right! It was fun.
I found his prose simple and to the point, not trying to be over fancy with someone taking a whole page to open a door, but I instantly got a grasp of this Newcago that the Epics have a built. (And yes, it pretty awesome).
I instantly liked all the characters as well. While I do feel there could have been a tad bit more character development, this does not hinder the novel by any means. There is no difficulty building a bond with David, and his bond with other members of the Reckoners did not feel forced at all. I thought the whole Reckoner’s team meshed together perfectly. I found David extremely like-able. In the story he has this thing with metaphors… he is bad at them. Like, scared as a brick made of out jello bad. He tries so hard! but they almost never makes any sense. (Cody – another member of the Reckoners – is awesome at them, and I think may be my favorite character. He is… very unique) David tries to use them to impress Megan – another member of the Reckoners – but she is not easily amused. (However, she will occasionaly give him a little smile). Then of course he does the typical teenage boy thing where he over analyzes what he just said, or tries to speak quickly to correct and explain himself, and just end up burying himself even more – It makes for some very humorous moments.
All in all, I have no idea why you would not want to pick this up. I cannot think of one thing I didn’t like about this book or why I should deduct from its rating. More character development would have been nice, but I am a sucker for character arc, and the development we have didn’t hinder the story at all and I related with all the characters with ease.
And I did I mention this was a YA? No? Well, thats because IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Take it from someone who wasn’t the least bit interested in anything to do with superheroes – I loved this book. Go pick this one up and read it!