Friday, July 10, 2015
Book Review #3: Steelheart
Series: The Reckoners
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Book Number: #1
A little while ago, I joined a book cub at a library in my state. The first published book I read when I joined the group was a book called "Red Queen". This book was going to be the first part in a book trilogy. Naturally, this meant that a lot of world building would be included. However, I was less than satisfied with this book which I'll expand upon later. After the book club finished reading Red Queen, we voted for what book we wanted to read next. Since the theme of the library's summer reading program was superheroes, most of the book choices were superhero based. Which brings us to the reading of Steelheart. After finishing this book yesterday, how does the book fare? Does it beat up the bad guys or is it the the one getting beat up? Well, let's check out the story.
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.
One thing about this book that surprised me was the pacing. From what I understand, world building books or the first book in a series tends to have an excruciatingly tedious pace. This is especially true for Red Queen because nothing really happens outside of the world building until you get to the second part of the book. Because of this, I became frustrated and put the book down to go do something else. With Steelheart, I never got that feeling! For a series starter, the pacing is pretty good for the most part. While there is world building going on, the book balances it out with plenty of action, character development, and suspense. The book also gave me a pretty good idea of what this world is like without the descriptions of the world overstaying their welcome. Which leads me to my next point.
Another thing I liked about the book was the world itself. In this book, the city of Newcago is described as a place of doom and gloom, where its emperor, Steelheart, rules the city with his powers that make most of the population cower in fear. It's also a place where the people with powers reign supreme while normal people are little more than slaves. What makes the world interesting is that it provides plenty of details about this world, which allows the reader to easily imagine what it would look like if it were adapted into a visual medium. Newcago seems to have a dangerously unpredictable atmosphere to it. The streets seem rather dark and quiet but you still need to be alert as you never know when you'll encounter a epic that may try and hurt you. The world also pays homage to comics like Batman and Dick Tracy without seeming like a complete rehash. Not only that, but it seems pretty expansive and made me want to just walk around and see what else it had to offer, much like an overworld in a video game.
The other thing I enjoyed about this book was the characters. While the characters were pretty basic and a bit cliché, especially the main character, they were still pretty engaging and likable, including Abraham and the Professor. I really enjoy how they all work off of each other and I love how they each have a distinct personality that makes them stand out. Each character seems to have a bit of a back story that makes the reader identify with them and want to learn more about them. There also seems like there's a sense of comradeship with these characters as they do their best to help each other out, even in the biggest of battles.
If I did have one issue with the book, I'd say that the ending fight with Steelheart, Nightweilder, and Firefight goes on for for a bit too long, spanning over 5 or so chapters, but to its credit, it does lead to a very satisfying and surprising conclusion.
On the whole, Steelheart is one of those books I enjoyed reading from beginning to end. Is it something that I'd read over and over again? No. But at the same time, I'm glad I read it because there's a lot to like about this book. Now would I recommend this book to you? Well it depends on what you're looking for. If you want a book that breaks new ground and really pushes the envelope, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you're looking for a fun, entertaining, and straightforward superhero story, you'll get your fill.
Overall Grade: B