Is it my lucky year or what? Brandon Sanderson has not ONE but TWO books coming out this year for the young adult market. I’ve read both and you guys, Sanderson has cemented his place in my heart as one of my favorite fantasy writers EVER. What I love about his works is that he brings something different to the table with each new series. Y’all, Steelheart, the first of the Reckoners series, does not feel like anything Sanderson has written before. I love that. I love how he does not write the same book over and over and over. Sure, there are common themes like oppressive people in power (hi there Mistborn) but as usual, the magic system is pretty new to me. If you are new to Sanderson, I am going to recommend that you start with his Mistborn trilogy. When you are done reading that come back to this review, listen to me tell you why Steelheart is freakin’ awesome and why you should pick it up for your next speculative fiction read.
Ten years ago, David’s life changed forever. Men and women started receiving super powers. Only instead of being awesome like Batman, they became despots. These people with powers were called Epics and they are epic jerks — they want absolute ruling power and so, they kill regular humans at will and rule with an iron fist. During an ill-fated visit to the bank, David witnesses his father’s murder by an Epic called Steelheart. Steelheart would eventually go on to rule over Newcago. Steelheart is the biggest, baddest mother-lover there is. It would seem he has no weaknesses and will be in charge indefinitely. Only, David’s seen Steelheart bleed and y’all, that’s a total game changer.
Here’s the thing, you will either love or hate main character David. He can be super earnest which does come across as grating, especially when he is doing something stupid and putting everyone in danger on a whim. Personally, I liked David. I have a thing for characters who have obsessions. David is obsessed with the Epics. He has notebooks upon notebooks upon notebooks with his observations and collected knowledge regarding the Epics. He’s collected information regarding the powers of each individual Epic and also the weaknesses as well. I love that instead of letting his tragedy beat him into submission, it just hardens his resolve. I love that even though he’s just an ordinary boy with no super powers at all, he will try to take on the Epics with the Reckoners and do it with planning and intellect. It’s kind of a nerd’s super hero dream, you guys.
Okay, so I am going to just call Sanderson’s Epics the magic system for Steelheart. Each Epic has magical powers and abilities that can make them basically impossible to defeat and kill. They are super mean and definitely do not like humans. However, each Epic also has an Achilles heel. Thank goodness. You guys, I love a good David Vs. Goliath story and that is totally what you will get with Steelheart. You’ll get a ragtag cast of characters fighting impossible odds. I loved that Sanderson did not make the Epics completely undefeatable, but made it so that they had highly hidden weaknesses and the Reckoners really had to brainstorm to figure them out. I love that it’s not always obvious what the weakness is. Also, it’s interesting, a lot of the world as we know it is plunged into total chaos because of the Epics. Like, Newcago is plunged into total darkness because of this one Epic named Nightwielder. Also, the city is almost entirely covered in steel, leading to some interesting tunnels and living situations. Just know, this world is imaginative, well developed, and fricken cool – I’d never want to live in it though.
If you’ve ever read Brandon Sanderson’s books before, you probably know that they have a tendency to feel slow and meandering if you aren’t quite sure what to expect. Sure, once the ball gets rolling it gets super fast, BUT up to that point can feel slow. Do not be discouraged if Steelheart takes you awhile to get through. Sanderson takes his time to really develop the world. He takes his time to include interesting character dynamics — hello side characters: Megan, Abraham, Tia, Cody, and the Professor, ILY ILY. I will be real with you and say BE PATIENT. It feels slow because Sanderson is laying one hell of a foundation that will blow your mind when you get to the twists and the turns. Look, if you want a book about people rise up against evil oppressors THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU.
Ugh, Brandon Sanderson you are the best ever. The end.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher