Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, Reckoners #1

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.

When it comes down to current fantasy writing I think that Brandon Sanderson is undoubtedly one of the biggest names. He took over the writing of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series while starting and following many of his own series. The biggest release of his so far was his own Epic Fantasy series The Stormlight Archive last year he released two new young adult series, the first being The Rithmatist and the second was Reckoners, of which Steelheart is the first book. All I can say upfront is that this is awesome stuff and Brandon Sanderson shows in this young adult series quite an interesting take on being a superhero, not everyone has the good of humankind in their view... As it is often mentioned: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, this is something to take into account while reading Steelheart.

The story picks up a bit as you might expect when you read a superhero novel. Something bad happens and you suppose the superhero rushes to the scene to set things right. Well if only. David witnessed something happen but the supposed superhero, Steelheart, didn't do anything at all he only made things worse. Let me go back a few steps though. One day David and his father visit a bank and while they are in it, the bank gets robbed by a minor Epic, one that doesn't have that strong a powers. Now the ruling Epic was Steelheart and he can't let this happen to his city well, so far so good right? You might believe that Steelheart will save everyone... think again as Steelheart, a very powerful and indestructible Epic isn't there to save the people but more let them work for him and he makes an offer for the minor Epic to join his forces... From this point onwards it all starts to escalate pretty heavily so, David's father tries to safe Steelheart from the other Epic who suddenly appears behind Steelheart and shoots with his gun. Which he shouldn't have done as the bullet scratches Steelheart and draws blood, now things escalate even more and Steelheart goes on a rampage and thereby killing a lot of innocents including David father, actually, David is the only survivor of the whole event. Now from this point onwards David has set his mind on getting his revenge on Steelheart.

You know Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive? Steelheart isn't 1000pages but the background, what I explained above, is only the beginning. After these events the story is fast forwarded 10 years, David is grown up a bit more and hasn't gotten his revenge, so far that is, as one day he sees the "militia group" known as the Reckoners in action. And being skilled in the backgrounds of several Epic he sees their plan failing and jumps in to help out. Now this is just the start of David's story. He is just the asset that the Reckoners have been waiting to get, all of David's experience will help them out a lot. But only if it were just this simple. David, being a complete stranger to the Reckoners has to gain their trust and win them over for his insane goal that of getting revenge of Steelheart, perhaps the strongest Epic anyone has ever seen. This road isn't easy to walk as there are quite a few inner "struggles" amongst the Reckoners as well. No I will stop talking about the story, but let me reassure you that this one of the most eventful stories that I have read in young adult fiction. 

When I reviewed Lowball the other week I mentioned that I have become dienchanted with the whole Marvel universe of superheroes and that the Wild Card universe offered a nice change in scenery. Well the same goes for Steelheart, because Brandon Sanderson imposes a very interesting view on being a superhero and perhaps a bit more realistic taken all together. What would you do when you would be given superpowers? Would you really fight crime (which is totally idealistic) or would you have some fun and make people work for you? The quote I gave above falls in the lines of the latter one. The Epics are well to say it pretty bluntly bastards, they have power but let people work for them since most are so powerful they can hardly be touched. However there is a catch because just like superman, every epic has it's kryptonite, a weak point, for some they are easily though off but for an indestructible EPic like Steelheart, this is hard to come up with but David have seen blood on Steelheart's face so what could it be? I think you will be amazed by what his weakness is! It very well thought through.

The narration of Steelheart is really solid and for once you actually don't focus on a person with superpowers to take the lead as main protagonist in the story. David is a teenager - young adult who is forming a rebellion against the Epics . This is a very interesting point of view and David makes up for a terrific protagonist. David has an interesting and actually complicated past. though he says that he isn't a smart kid I do have to disagree, he is much smarter that he thinks himself to be. With all that he set up with tracking the Epic, discovering things about them and of course the part with the Reckoners took some skill and a whole lot of guts. A lot of youngsters will be able to fully live into the character of David with his can do attitude, no matter what your goal is there is always a way to achieve it. There are also plenty of different secondary character that make up for a very dynamic story. You have several other Reckoners that are in the same cause as David, though you learn about some more than others like the professor who David imagines to be a whole lot but when you learn his history it actually isn't that at all. Added to this you have the crush that David starts to develop on a certain Reckoner that is just very cute to read. 

Also Brandon Sanderson doesn't shy away to give the evil Epic also some face time where you learn a lot about their background making them more than just evil persona's in the story. Highlighting where they are good at, their powers but also their weaknesses and when the action takes place between the Reckoners and the Epics you are just waiting when the trap is being sprung. Great lively and dynamic character cast. 

This all combined make Steelheart just one awesome read. I read most of Brandon Sanderson earlier books and with Steelheart he continues his winning streak. Whether you are an adult of a teenager looking for a fast paced, action packed superhero story, shown from a new perspective, Steelheart is a must read for you. I really liked that Brandon Sanderson showed a different perspective with his story, normally you always have the good superheroes but what if they weren't so nice and forced the innocents into working for them? I recently got the copy of a short story in the Reckoners series, Mitosis, looking forward to reading it. Firefight the sequel to Steelheart will be out early January. 2015 is going to start of pretty heated I reckon!


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