Book Review: Steelheart (Brandon Sanderson 4 1/2 *’s)

Steelheart is one of the more recent works of Brandon Sanderson. It is a young adult novel that comes in at nearly four hundred pages. The setting is a kind of post-apocalyptic Earth. However, in this case, the apocalypse was brought on by an orbiting glowing red comet or asteroid that gave a multitude of people super-powers and turned them evil at the same time. The resulting evil super-heroes or Epics, as they are called, wreaked havoc upon the Earth and basically took over. The United States is now known as The Shattered States and consists of a variety of city- states, each one run by a powerful Epic answerable to no one but him/herself.

 

The protagonist in the story, David, has lived all is life in Newcago, the city that was once Chicago, but is now the domain of the most powerful and most evil Epic of all: Steelheart. Steelheart can fly, turn inanimate matter to steel, and even control the very elements themselves. He has no known weaknesses, and is believed by many to be completely invulnerable. But David knows otherwise. Years ago, when Steelheart first revealed himself to the world and killed David’s father, David witnessed a solitary gunshot from his father’s hand. A gunshot like no other. A gunshot that injured Steelheart and gave him a scar. David has seen Steelheart bleed, and if it is within his power, he will see him destroyed. So motivated, he sets out to join the Reckoners, a group of humans bent on bringing the Epics down. They have fought and successfully defeated a number of minor Epics, but so far, have been unwilling to engage an Epic the likes of Steelheart, believing he is invulnerable. Now, with the new information David has given them, they may yet have a chance. Can David and the Reckoners destroy Steelheart and liberate Newcago? Or is it all just a fanciful dream? After all, knowing Steelheart has a weakness, is not the same as knowing what Steelheart’s weakness actually is.

 

Strengths: the writing was excellent (Brandon Sanderson is my favorite living author), the characters were well-developed and manageable in number, and the plotline was smooth. The action was excellent, and the conclusion skillfully handled. I do pride myself on the fact that I saw a good number of the twists coming, not all of them, but enough that I feel justified in bragging … a little, anyway. Weaknesses: perhaps the use of humor. I just have the feeling that throwing a comedic character into a mix of serious characters is kind of an over-used technique (I know, I use that technique myself). Still, in spite of that, it was an excellent book and I’m not even sure the humor used counts as a weakness. I might just be getting jaded in my old age.

 

Anyway, I’ll give Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson four and a half stars out of five.

 

This review originally appeared on Goodreads on 12/1/13.

Note: I will not be posting on December 26th. I will be taking the day off for Christmas. Also, remember:  I’m still running a contest with a signed hardcover copy of my novel Drasmyr ($25 value) and a Drasmyr bookmark as the prize. You can find the details of the contest: here. I encourage everyone to sign up for my newsletter and post a response.

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