Book Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

I picked up this book because it was by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy, currently my favorite series I’ve read this year. While this book was completely different from Mistborn, it was still amazing. I’m in love.

5/5 stars

Genre: YA dystopian, science fiction, action

Series: The Reckoners, book one

cover steelheart

 

Amazon description of Steelheart

How far would you go for revenge if someone killed your father?
If someone destroyed your city?
If everything you ever loved was taken from you?
David Charleston will go to any lengths to stop Steelheart. But to exact revenge in Steelheart’s world, David will need the Reckonersβ€”a shadowy group of rebels bent on maintaining justice.
And it turns out that the Reckoners might just need David too.

Wow. I loved this book.

It is not Mistborn, which was almost-high fantasy, really freaking long, emotionally powerful, subtle, complex. A lot of this review will compare the two, but if you don’t know the first series, just ignore the extra bits.

The setting is a dystopia ruled by powerful beings called Epics. The city that he lives in, Newcago, is ruled by totalitarian Epic Steelheart, who murdered David’s father in his ascent to power, leaving David with a serious vendetta against him. It is an interesting dystopia however, because Steelheart’s regime has only been around for ten years. Most of the population has memories of what it was like before, something most dystopian authors cut out.

The story itself is action-oriented, with tons of fight scenes and gunfire. Elements of the world are science-fictiony. I definitely wanted a deeper understanding of how the science-y elements worked, how the technology functioned, but I trust that Sanderson will explain it in a later book (hopefully).

It is a fast, powerful read. As I said, lots of fight scenes, lots of explosions, lots of dodging bullets, but never in a cheesy way. Since they have advanced scientific technology to help them not get killed, it keeps the scenes from being totally unrealistic (AKA Steelheart is not like every episode of “Burn Notice” ever, which the cast totally should not have survived that many seasons of). The plot built quickly; Sanderson paced it well, and kept the reader guessing.

The characters were great. David is a lovable geek, with a seriously vindictive side. He’s impulsive. He’s horrible at metaphors. (More on that later). The Reckoners were characterized well, for me. Each one had a distinct personality and added something different to the book. Cody is by far my favorite, because pretty much everything he said had me laughing out loud. Sanderson created Megan’s character well, keeping her mysterious, keeping her in character. She was an actually strong female in a story that could have used her as a sexy body and nothing else. Her dynamic with David moved the story along without monopolizing it, letting the action be the focus of the plot (a novelty in the hyper-romanticized world of YA). Prof was a powerful character, the classic leader with a mysterious past. Though I saw hints of Mistborn’s Kelsier in him, Sanderson didn’t create a carbon copy, which helped to establish the differences between his series.

The plot twists! So many, so well executed. I can’t say more, cuz duh…spoilers. But seriously, guys, if you like surprising plots–Sanderson is your author.

Ooh! A note on David sucking at creating metaphors. It’s a running joke through the story, that he thinks way too much into his metaphors and they just don’t make sense. While it could have just been a running joke, for me it was more. I’ve spent so many hours in English classes disecting metaphors, analyzing the author’s diction. It was hilarious to read lines that really made me think about metaphors in our language, and why some work and others don’t. It’s kind of English-class-geeky of me, but I loved it.

I need book two, Firefight, to come out. I have to wait until January!!! The horror.

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