by Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #1
Published: September 24th 2013
Genres: Supernatural, Young Adult
Format: eBook (386 pages)
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 will.
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.
Whenever someone asked me what I was reading, I would describe Steelheart like this: “All the superheroes are bad guys and the regular humans have to fight them.” With such a saturated market of superhero stories, it was really cool to find this unique spin. The idea behind all the superheroes being bad is that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely (pg 15).” The quest to kill someone as powerful as Superman by exploiting their weakness was completely engrossing.
David, the main character, had such clever ideas to kill superheroes that seemed impossible to kill. For example, a superhero (the book calls them Epics) that could see the future could be killed in a scenario where all of his choices led to death.
I liked the ethical questions that Steelheart made me think about while I was reading it. Do only terrible people get powers or do powers make everyone terrible? Would I be a good person if I had unlimited power? In book club we discussed how Epics could be a metaphor for power like huge amounts of money and it was a great discussion about what we would do with billions of dollars. How selfless would we really be?
I loved the writing in this book. There was great foreshadowing and a cool twist that I didn’t see coming. Steelheart was by far my favorite in this series.
There was one writing gimmick that I did not enjoy. David only comes up with bad metaphors as he’s thinking to himself or talking to others. Here’s an example:
But even a ninety-year-old blind priest would stop and stare at this woman. If he weren’t blind, that is. Dumb metaphor, I thought. I’ll have to work on that one. I have trouble with metaphors.
-Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart (p. 25).
That just makes me cringe not only because it’s so incredibly awkward but also because of how blatantly it’s brought to my attention. I think the author was trying to show David’s self-consciousness but it would have worked so much better if it had been subtle instead of the author taking time to point out “Hey did you notice how bad these metaphors are? Because they’re bad!” Other characters start pointing out how bad his metaphors are and I feel like I’m partly reading a superhero story and partly reading an English class discussion on metaphors. What the heck. Wouldn’t people in conversation just call them comparisons? And why do all these characters care so much about how good he is at metaphors? And how much are they analyzing everything he says to come to the conclusion that he’s terrible with metaphors? The characters had entire conversations about it. Subtly could have really sold something quirky like this, but the way it’s written stuck out enough that it took me out of the story. This story was amazing and didn’t need a gimmick like that. I still gave this book 5 stars even though I have this complaint because that’s how good this story was.
Book Review of Steelheart on a Post-it