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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

 photo 0385743564.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsbztmr80e.jpgSteelheart
by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Delacorte Press, September 24, 2013
400 Pages • ISBN 978-0385743563 • Hardcover

 photo 4stars_zps18ba61d5.jpg

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Book description:
Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Words of Radiance, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy, presents Steelheart, the first book in the Reckoners series, an action-packed thrill ride that will leave readers breathless.

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary people extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

Epics are no friends of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man, you must crush his will.

Now, in what was once Chicago, an astonishingly powerful Epic named Steelheart has installed himself as emperor. Steelheart possesses the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said that no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, and no fire can burn him. He is invincible. Nobody fights back... nobody but the Reckoners.

A shadowy group of ordinary humans, the Reckoners spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in.

When Steelheart came to Chicago, he killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David has been studying, and planning, and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He has seen Steelheart bleed.

And he wants revenge.

The kickoff to Sanderson's The Reckoners series finds us in Chicago during the early days of the emergence of Epics: Humans who have developed superpowers after the appearance of Calamity, a strange light in the sky. David is just a young boy when he sees his father murdered in front of him by Steelheart, possibly the strongest Epic alive and who appears to be invincible. But David knows differently, because David has seen Steelheart bleed. Now, all David wants is revenge against Steelheart for his father's death, so he sets out to join the Reckoners, a group of regular humans who live for only one thing: the death of all Epics.

This is a fairly fast paced story, not leaving a lot of time for the reader to catch their breath from one episode to the next. Sanderson is great at fleshing out his characters, and Steelheart is no exception. The reader is left with a very clear idea early on what motivates each of the characters. However, the overuse of David's bad metaphors throughout the entire book grew very tiresome, very quickly. I know that this is supposed to be written for a younger audience, but it really felt to me as if Sanderson were trying to dumb down the book a little by adding this "comedic" element to David, but at least for me, this did not work. At all. The first couple of times the quirk was amusing, but after it's drilled into you so damned much, it grows very old, very quickly.

I really enjoyed Sanderson's descriptions of Newcago (what's left of the city of Chicago) and how the people who still lived there got by in their day to day dealings, how they lived in a city that almost seems uninhabitable, how they live under the oppression of the Epics; then on the flip-side of that, how the Epics live and treat those under them. The entire class dynamic presented here was compelling.

Of course, when you get right down to it, this is a superhero action-adventure story, yet with the twist that the super-powered beings aren't actually the heroes. I thought this was a great story for Sanderson to tell, where there are no "super"-heroes to stand up to the super-powered, and taking the quote from Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely," quite literally. How David and the Reckoners finally come to deal with Steelheart was a riveting scene, and while there was one important plot point that I had figured out early on, the finale still had me guessing, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

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