Author: Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5/5 stars
Series: Yes. 1 of 3.
Oh my goodness this book was so fun! If the rest of my reads this August is as entertaining as Steelheart, I’m in for a treat this month!
I know I was harping on about how I was sick of dystopia just like one review ago. This book is a post-apocalyptic type scenario but I loved it so much, here’s all my reasons why. SPOILERS: It’s because Brandon Sanderson is a freaking genius.
Epics had a distinct, even incredible, lack of morals or conscience. That bothered some people, on a philosophical level. Theorists, scholars. They wondered at the sheer inhumanity many Epics manifested. Did the Epics kill because Calamity chose—for whatever reason—only terrible people to gain powers? Or did they kill because such amazing power twisted a person, made them irresponsible?
Since an event known as Calamity, numerous humans throughout The Fractured States developed superpowers. Instead of following down Spiderman’s path and exercise the whole ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ stint, all of these mutants – now called Epics – just kinda went ‘Hey, screw the rest of mankind, I’m gonna enslave you all’. You know the old adage, ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.
“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.
And I will see him bleed again.”
The villain of this piece is Steelheart, a High Epic with super strength, impervious to all assaults, shoots lasers out of his hands, and oh… he can turn everything into steel. No one’s ever seen him vulnerable, except for our young protagonist: David. David witnessed Steelheart bleed when he was 8, right before the Epic ruthlessly killed his father. He’s been plotting his revenge ever since.
All of the different Epics and their varied super powers + corresponding weaknesses: there’s Faultline who can cause earthquakes, Nightwielder who can hold an entire city in darkness, Fortuity with precognitive abilities, all must be taken down by a different method. I’ve always admired Brandon Sanderson’s magic systems, despite set laws so much is possible! The plans our protagonists have to devised to take down each Epic is particularly fun.
If you loved the X-men, you’ll adore this. If you liked superheroes, you’ll adore this. Heck, even if you’re sick of Marvel’s cinematic sea of sameness (like myself), you’ll adore this!
It’s always dark in Newcago. Because of Nightwielder there are no sunrises, and no moon to speak of, just pure darkness in the sky. All the time, every day.
I loved the atmosphere of the book. Newcargo has been turned into a steel jungle, with the majority of humans forced to live underground and in the darkness. The setting of the book was described in vivid detail. There’s also the mafia mobster set up, with each High Epic reigning over certain area as cruel dictators. We only saw Newcargo in this book, apparently a city with the most organised societal structure – and it was still pretty darn messed up. I hope to see different locations in future books. I would also love to see more of the other humans in the book and how they live, as we spend a lot of the time seeing things from the Reckoner’s point of view.
Aside from the Epics, there was also all of the technology and weaponry the Reckoners (a human rebel alliance of sorts) used – I love all these Bond-like gadget thingymabob. I appreciated the attention to detail Brandon Sanderson pays to explaining how these high tech equipments work, it’s something that’s so often glossed over.
3. Endearing Characters
“Where there are villains, there will be heroes. Just wait. They will come.”
In many stories with a large group of characters, I often find it hard to differentiate between the sidekicks, but I liked that in Steelheart, they were all given flavours of their own. Firstly, we have David, our nerdy (don’t say that to his face, though) narrator who’s been harbouring lofty hopes of vengeance for most of his childhood. He’s dedicated his life to studying the Epic in minute details to find each of their weaknesses. When he’s not doing that, he pores over The Reckoners’ activities as he hope to join them one day. I admire a hero who can use his brain, so I adored David. The fact that he makes these clunky metaphors make me like him even more, I never understood why all heroes were so unfailingly witty. Here’s just one example of his adorably awful metaphors.
“He was right. I was letting myself get distracted, like a rabbit doing math problems instead of looking for foxes.”
I also love the other characters. Megan, a sharpshooting member of The Reckoners who’s more than just a designated love interest. Prof, our stand in for Charles Xavier, who clings to hope for humanity while he fights larger than life evil. Tia, the brain of the operations. Abraham, suprisingly gentle gruff bear. Cody, endearing Scotsman with tall tales for days. The only thing I’d fault about the characterisation is the depiction of The Epics. They were a bit cartoonish in their unabashed villainy.
Overall this is one thrilling, entertaining and addictive book. If you feel in the mood for action and heroic feats, check it out! However, do not make the same mistake I did and look up the name of the sequel inadvertently… it ruins the ending for you *SOBS*
Have you read Steelheart? Thoughts? Please recommend me some more superhero/villains type reads – I’m only aware of Vicious & the upcoming Zeroes.