Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA, dystopian, fantasy
Series? Yes, Reckoners #1
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Synopsis from cover: There are no heroes.
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.
Without a doubt, this is one of the best books I read in 2013. I was a little leery of how much hype it had received, but I can tell you that it is 100% deserving of the praise it’s received. The characters are believable, the world building is out of this world, and the plot is entirely captivating from start to finish. Even in the slower sections, Sanderson weaves such a compelling story that I didn’t even notice when the characters were stagnant. Everything was explained logically, and it all comes together in a perfect ending that is simultaneously closure for book 1, but also a lead in for book 2. I’ll be reading Steelheart again soon, and can’t wait for Firefight next fall!
I don’t even know where to begin this one. I just loved every single aspect of it. Surprisingly enough, this was the first time I’ve heard of Sanderson, even though apparently he’s written several other bestsellers! Either way, I’m glad I started with Steelheart. It has so many positive elements – a relatable male protagonist, older for the YA genre (18 years), complex world building, and all out battles between superheroes. I mean, what’s better than a showdown between dudes who can turn entire cities into steel? And to have the usual tropes flipped upside down – flawless. Good guys who are just human, and superheroes who are more villain than hero? Amazing. Everything about this book was just incredible, and one of my favorites that I’ve read in a long time. It wasn’t one that I just had to keep reading – I was okay setting it down and picking it up later – but at the end it had completely sucked me in. It’s one that sticks with you for a long time – I definitely had some hangover going on after finishing.
I need to dedicate a paragraph to David, the protagonist, because this is one special character that Sanderson created. He has the unique quirks that I usually associate with contemporary books (since most fantasy books don’t build characters down to their little idiosyncrasies), like begin unable to create working metaphors. It’s a running joke throughout the whole book, and it isn’t heavy handed, but brought up just at the right time. It made David so relatable – he was intelligent and focused on his goal, but at his core he’s a goofy kid trying to impress a girl. His attraction to Megan was a nice grounder for the epic proportions of the rest of the novel. It wasn’t instalove, like I had been worried about after reading other reviews, but more a crush that he nurses throughout the story.
The plot did have some slow parts, but I didn’t mind because in those lulls Sanderson develops the other characters. The Reckoners consist of Prof, Megan, Cody, Abraham, and Tia, and they were each given their own room to develop. They never blurred together – each one had his or her own role to fill. Cody with his accents, Abraham and his specialty with weapons, Prof and his mysteriousness and genius, Tia with her Coke, and Megan with her grumpy moods and inability to work some of the weapons – they each had their special quirks that really brought them out as individuals. And when the plot sped up again, it was breakneck pacing and heart-stopping action. All the twists and turns were a wild ride, and even though I predicted some of the endings, I didn’t catch onto others, and it left me with mouth agape!
I have one more point that I want to touch on: the realism of the story. I know I repeated it a few times, but I want to focus on one more aspect: the emphasis on consequences of your actions. David isn’t a firecracker that comes in and fixes everything in one go and succeeds at everything he does. He fails, and he screws up royally in some points, putting others in danger and causing a million more problems because of his grand ideas that he doesn’t think through. But he learns from them, and he moves on. It was really great to see a YA protagonist that wasn’t suddenly a genius after zero training.
My verdict: buy the book. It’s so worth it, even in hardback. I can’t fully put my feelings into words for this book, but it’s just AMAZING.
My Final Rating: