[Review] Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Fry's Reviews, Reviews 0 Comments 13th December, 2014

[Review] Steelheart by Brandon SandersonSteelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #1
Published by Delacorte Books on September 24th, 2013
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 386
Source: Purchase
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.

I literally just finished this book before writing this review and I have to say, I’m a little angry. It’s not that I’m not used to Sanderson throwing plot twists at me. I mean, he’s what Mr. Shyamalan wants to be. Still, this book may have been quite liberal with the, “because reasons.” It was still really enjoyable and I hope that the second book makes up for where this one was lacking.

This will be my first foray into Sanderson’s young adult books. They’re not much different. The characters are a little less complex and the plots are a little simpler, but overall he continues to shine as a wonderful storyteller. All the violence is there. There are toddlers being turned into piles of ash and bone in their parents arms. So, it’s not like he really toned anything down on that front.

He did annoy me with the fake swear words. I understand that it is a young adult novel and you can’t really use actual swear words as liberally, but the fake swear words weren’t even etymologically useful. Sparks? Calamity? None of those ring of swear word type origins.  And the characters used them almost constantly. It started to detract from the story. Honestly, I even get a little frustrated when Locke Lamora swears too much in a row. Are you getting paid by the word? This doesn’t add anything to the context.

Also the sudden use of, “anyway” to change subjects. It was super lazy and I use it in reviews, but in a narrative? Really? Knock it off.

He’s also awful at romance. I didn’t feel it. I didn’t get it. I guess there were supposed to be feelings? Didn’t come across as a budding relationship at all. They had less chemistry than the leader/main character did.

So our main character, David, who is awful at metaphors but likes to use them anyway, accompanies his dad to the bank one day. The world has been drastically changed when a celestial body dubbed Calamity appeared in the sky and people started gaining cosmic powers. Their powers defy the laws of physics and fall in a range of anything you can really think of. These superpowered humans are called, Epics. Just so happens that one decides to hold up a bank. Another, the title character Steelheart, doesn’t appreciate this and so comes to challenge the lesser Epic. A bunch of stuff happens, but needless to say, Steelheart is wounded accidentally by David’s father and proceeds to fly into a rage, destroying everything within the bank and eventually taking over the city. David is traumatized by this experience and decides that his sole purpose in life is to kill Steelheart.

And so, he attempts to join a group of rebels who are doing just that. After a bit of yelling and some cajoling they allow him to join their ranks and he tells them of his plan to destroy Steelheart, which they agree to without all the careful planning that they’re used to. And so begins their doomed quest.

The team has everything you could possibly need on it, in fact, I’ve dubbed the leader, “Liam Neeson”, because he pretty much is. He has no other discernible personality and a tragic back story that has only partially been revealed. The other characters are your standard rag tag misfits with random skills that are useful to the plot.

I can’t really talk about most of the book without giving the twists away, so I won’t do that. I will say that it was determined early on that epics can have TWO powers, but for some reason several of the epics have three (Or more! Steelheart has like four?) and that really rubbed me the wrong way. I get that they’re required for the plot but none of the powers are actually similar enough to be subpowers so, I don’t know, it just seemed convenient.

I also get that Steelheart cannot turn living things into steel, but can we talk about the lake for a minute? He turned part of Lake Michigan to steel. He can’t turn living things to steel. So, what the hell happened to all the fish in there? Just suddenly encased in steel? Steel in their gills? I guess it’s good that the steel turning was also limited to things that were not air because everyone ever would die… like the fish.

Now I’m thinking too hard about rules and I should stop. It was a fun book. Easy to read and get into. Fun, but rage inducing twists. Hopefully the series continues to get better.

Written by Fry


Probably in a dungeon somewhere. Game Master for the D’n’D actual play podcast Roll For Wenches .

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