Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart (Reckoners #1)

by Brandon Sanderson.

Steelheart I’m a fan of Sanderson’s Mistborn books, and his Stormlight Archives series so far. And while I never finished the Wheel of Time series (as of yet), I heard he did good things with it after Robert Jordan’s death. So I’ve long been meaning to try out his YA series, Reckoners. My recent roadtrip saw me armed with the audiobook version to see me through the first long drive.

Let me just say that the narrator (MacLeod Andrews) did an awesome job. Each character had a distinct voice, and he carried off the female characters really well (I’ve heard some terrible instances of that on audiobooks before). He imbued the storytelling with a lot of personality and energy, and it made the drive fly by.

Ok, so the premise: Steelheart takes place in the unspecified-but-not-too-distant future, when the appearance of a mysterious red star causes some members of humanity to suddenly develop supernatural powers. These people are called Epics. And while some hoped they would be the heroes the world needed, the opposite proved true. They were power-hungry tyrants, and in their rise to domination brought about chaos and the widespread collapse of civilization as we know it. One of the most powerful of these Epics is Steelheart, who has claimed Chicago as his own. The story is told by David, who was a young kid when the Epics emerged. He saw his father murdered by Steelheart, and has spent the last 10 years plotting revenge and working to join the only rebel group humanity has left: the Reckoners. And he finally gets his chance.

This is a rollicking good adventure story. Well-developed characters, good writing with plenty of humor in the right places. It’s a world where there are supervillains but no superheroes, just a group of smart (and smart-ass) regular people fighting back any way they can. I loved all of the characters (no one was 2-dimensional) but David as the narrator was perfect. He’s a smart kid, but he’s also a typical teenage boy in many ways. Highly entertaining. The quest to bring down Steelheart takes David through tricksy battles, close escapes, the first blossom of romance, maybe finding a place for himself, and maybe learning there’s more to life than Epics. That makes it sound more typical YA preachy than it was. This was just a good story, that happens to be YA. And Sanderson walked that fine balance between having everything make sense and progress logically without it being predictable- there were still quite a few surprises in there.

I finished the audiobook on the drive out, and then during my vacation read books 2 and 3 back to back (ah, the perks of tackling a series that is already fully published!). They did not disappoint. They are, however, hard to discuss without spoilers, which is why I kept this review to book 1. Suffice to say that I am even more a fan of Sanderson’s work now, and would definitely recommend you pick up this series.

I give it 4.5/5 stars.

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