On the Bookshelf
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
The Reckoners trilogy follows David and a team of revolutionaries intent on destroying the Epics, a race of average humans who have been randomly (or so they think) gifted supernatural powers. Unfortunately for the human race, the Epics are not the saviors everyone hoped they would be. Each book pits David against different and increasingly dangerous foes that change his outlook on what it means to be a hero.
“Sometimes, son…you have to help the heroes along.” – Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart
In a world where superheroes-without-the-hero rule the world with the threat of fear, the city of Newcago is actually a sort of sanctuary for everyday people. After Steelheart, one of the most powerful Epics in the world began his reign, everything turned to steel – every skyscraper, road, and light bulb. Though a police force dedicated to Steelheart rules the streets and death-by-Epic is the norm, living in Newcago with shelter and food is still better than taking your chances in the wild. In this book, Sanderson truly creates a compelling and well-developed society.
After his father is murdered by one of the most powerful Epics in the world, David only has one thing on his mind: revenge. He spends his entire life researching the strengths and weaknesses of every Epic. Finally, he seizes his chance and joins the elusive Reckoners, a group of revolutionaries intent on killing Epics. What happens next is an action-packed journey, as David and the Reckoners launch a plan to assassinate the most dangerous epic of all: Steelheart himself.
This dystopian book reads like a blockbuster action movie, complete with explosions and crazy motorcycle chases. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep readers interested, along with a good mystery. By the end, readers end up with more questions than answers – in the best way. The biggest twist involves one of the main characters, which causes readers to rethink the entire novel. The other big revelation involved Steelheart’s weakness; without giving anything away, it made complete sense within the context of the plot without being too obvious. Thankfully, the twists are also well-spaced so that it was not overwhelming after so much planning. After all the crazy plot twists, readers are certainly left wanting to get their hands on the next book!
The main character, David, is a compelling character; he is portrayed accurately for his age and has his flaws. His inability to think of a good metaphor (actually, simile) is hilarious, and his single-mindedness about avenging father leads to his ignoring a lot of the big picture. The rest of the Reckoners are just as fun to read about. Corey, the American-Irish sniper, provides a bit of comic relief among so much seriousness; Abraham ends up providing David with a different perspective, as he is one of the Faithful.
The Faithful believe that there will be “good” Epics that will save the world by fighting against the current “bad” Epics, and most citizens think this is basically a pipe dream – David included. This was an interesting element to include in the book, because in a dystopian society like this one there is usually not much hope. The Faithful seem to be the only hopeful people in this society. The leader of the Reckoners, Prof, has a mysterious past just gets more mysterious as the book goes on. There was enough variability in the Reckoners team that there was someone for each reader to relate to, whether that be David’s awful metaphors or Abraham’s quiet hopefulness.
Sanderson built a very interesting dystopian world. The technology is similar to today’s world, with a few obvious exceptions. The inclusion of Epics adds a touch of fantasy, which was very welcome. There was even a bit of romance, which was slow-burning in the best way. The best part of the book was definitely the ending, where there are great twists and great character development. Overall, this was a fantastic beginning to a trilogy, and I am definitely looking forward to the sequel!