Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
Reckoners #1
Published September 24th 2013 by Delacourte Press

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.
**An ARC was provided by Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review.**

Steelheart is Brandon Sanderson's second new series launch this year, (I still need to read The Rithmatist), and both of those titles are the author's first YA offerings.  Being a HUGE fan of his adult high-fantasy series, Mistborn, I was especially curious to read his take on super heros, especially set in a futuristic dystopian world.  Needless to say, I've been very eager to start reading Steelheart and upon having finished it, I can safely say that there is nothing better that having your faith in an author rewarded.  Yep, this. was. awesome!

With Steelheart, Sanderson flips the traditional, and often formulaic world of super-heroes completely on it's head and offers up a world where the ones who have super-powers don't become heroes at all.  Instead their power seems to corrupt them and leave them with a desire to rule over humanity.  When The Epics, as they're called, came into power, it ushered in a terrible period of darkness for humans.  Many lives were lost, cities were completely destroyed; still other cities came under the fierce and tyrannical rule of especially powerful and fearsome Epics, like Steelheart.  No human stands a chance against an Epic, so no one ever fights back...except a shady underground group of regular humans known as The Reckoners, people who have spent years collecting information on the Epics, and their weaknesses.

Right from the start, I was pleased to find that Sanderson's world-building skills aren't limited to traditional high-fantasy worlds.  The world in Steelheart something else entirely.  It's amazingly well-constructed, especially considering it's about people with super-powers.  The premise is solid but also mysterious and ominous.  I felt the darkness of this world seeping into every single seen.  It never felt safe and I think this added a whole other layer to this already compulsively readable story. The plot sinks it's hooks into you right away, that prologue left me reeling and fully aware that I was in for the ride of my life.  Sanderson is never heavy-handed with the descriptions or details, but everything always ends up strikingly vivid and real.  It just never ceases to amaze me.

The characters are another area I have nothing but praise for.  It always feels fresh to read YA literature from a male's perspective.  And since I already knew Sanderson was brilliant at writing from female's POV (a.k.a. my beloved Vin from the Mistborn trilogy), it was especially great that Steelheart is told from David's perspective.  David is instantly relatable, as well as likeable. He's a nerd with a mission and I can't help but love that!  The cast of supporting characters really stood out as well though, each one of them was so unique and endearing.  Beyond being incredibly brave and kind of nuts for risking the wrath of the Epics.

Speaking of which: the Epics. They scared the crap out of me and I'm not even going to pretend like they didn't.  The sheer power some of them exhibited was truly mind-blowing, especially when you consider that none of them were using their power to help anyone.  It's like it made their powers seem worse somehow, definitely more threatening anyway.  The powers themselves were really cool - I was impressed how varied and original they all seemed to be.  I can't wait to learn more about the Epics, and how they got their powers!

I guess there are no big surprises from me here: Steelheart was an amazing read through and through!  This is a truly stellar start to an incredibly promising series....so...when can I get my hands on book two?!


  1. It sounds like a lot of people had trouble relating to David, but I <3 him! It might be the teenage nerdy boy that is hard for less nerdy people to relate to ;-)

    1. I've noticed that too! While he certainly isn't my favorite Sanderson character, he was engaging and likeable enough for me :) And I agree, his nerdyness made me love him even more ;-)

  2. Ooh- this sounds like such an exciting read! I'm glad to hear that the world-building is spot-on; I thought The Rithmatist went into a little too much detail with it, but this book seems to have found the perfect balance. I'm definitely looking forward to reading this!

    1. Honestly, I can't wait to get into The Rithmatist and be able to compare the two. You don't seem to be the only one who was a bit underwhelmed by it. But yeah, this one was really brilliant - the world-building was subtle but effective ♥

  3. Damn, I really need to jump on the Sanderson bandwagon. Your review is, well, epic ;) I also like that it's male nerd POV, and that for once we get supervillains rather than superheros. Also, you know how much I love great world building ;) I'll probably grab a copy of the Rithmatist or one of the Mistborn books first though. Thanks for your review, hun! Your enthusiasm is contagious ;)

  4. I've been dying to read a great and original fantasy book and this seems to fit the bill! The premise of evil superheroes seems really cool! I can't wait to read it. Great review :)

  5. EEEEP, THIS SOUNDS SO GOOD!! Oh, you know I've been wanting to read one of his books since I first heard about him from you! Damn, does he sound talented! And I can see why he would have named them Epics!! Excellent review.

  6. You hooked me when you said the world-building in this fantasy novel is different. Definitely something I need to read! Thanks for the great review, Micheline!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  7. I know how much you were looking forward to this, since we talked about it endlessly at BEA, and I'm glad it was on point for you. Sadly, I didn't bond with the characters like you did, and was pretty disappointed. The Epics were still really awesome though!

  8. I love the idea of changing something like this. Heroes becoming villains, awesome. I'm especially excited to read this book because of the world-building :D



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