Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart is 286 page science fiction (or as some people say, “speculative” fiction) novel written by Brandon Sanderson. Delacorte Press published the novel in September of 2013. Steelheart is the first book in the Reckoners series. I read it on “recommendation” of Sanderson’s other works, because I loved his writing from the first page of the first book I read by him (Mistborn).

The story takes place ten years after an event called Calamity occurred, which caused some humans to gain strange and generally dubious powers. While it may seem that superheroes would arise from this event, in actuality the effect is 100% supervillians, known as Epics. The only people who even attempt to fight back are a secret organization known as the Reckoners. Steelheart, basically the Prime Evil of the novel, has many abilities. He chooses his name based on the ability to turn anything, besides living flesh, into steel.

The main plot of the novel features David, a teen who grew up after Calamity happened and who witnessed his father getting murdered by the current most powerful Epic–Steelheart. After spending his life learning the understreets of Newcago (so named after Steelheart turns everything in Chicago to steel) and researching and studying Epics, David’s only goal is to join the Reckoners and get revenge for his father.

While I loved the plot and side characters, I honestly didn’t like David that much. He was obsessive–understandable, but annoying. He was also immature–again, understandable, but since I’m not a teenage boy, it distanced me from his character. It was interesting to read a perspective I have read relatively little of, but I’m hoping that, since David went through a lot in the novel, he will have some growth in the next book–Firefight, which is due out later this year. Even though David was a less than desirable main character, the world and side characters, including the fascinating villains, kept me interested.

The strongest parts of the novel were, as typical of Sanderson, the world building and strong antagonists. Post-Calamity Newcago was gritty and dirty and fascinating, just as Steelheart, Firefight, and Nightwielder are. The startling, unique, and quite creative powers these and other villains have make the novel fun in a dark way. Exploring humanity after it has been ruthlessly ruled for a decade by superviallains is fun, too. There were some great twists at the end of the novel–some I expected, and some I didn’t. It’s the ones I didn’t that keep me coming back for more Sanderson.

As for characters, the Reckoners were really the saving grace on the “good” side. The Prof, Megan, Cody, etc. were unique characters that brought a lot of depth to the fight for good. The moral/amoral aspects of Steelheart is really what’s going to bring me back for Firefight. Overall, an excellent Sanderson book that I’d recommend for anyone, but especially for male/YA readers.


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  1. Trackback: Summer Reading | Realm of Reviews

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