Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson, Published by Random House, Purchased for my own Collection.
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.
I have loved every Brandon Sanderson book I have read. The world building is constantly fantastic, I always seem to fall head over heels in love with the characters, and I am often surprised and delighted with how the plot of each story twists and connects. But, while I love all of his books, there is something about Steelheart especially that manages to stick in my head and my heart.
“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.” (first line)
I recently re-read Steelheart in the “Reckoners(Re)Readalong” that I am hosting in preparation for the release of the third and final book in this series, and even in a re-read this book manages to hook me from the very beginning. The very first line is such a great opening for the story, and the prologue gives me chills. It is raw, and brutal, and rich, and perfectly introduces the world in which the Reckoners series takes place.
The first person narrative in Steelheart is so well done. David, the character we follow through this adventure, is a very interesting (and sometimes ridiculous) kid. He speaks in very bad metaphors that are also very ridiculous, he has a large enthusiasm for weaponry, and he is obsessed with studying the Epics that killed his father and took over his world. David is strange, and nerdy, (though he denies it) and sometimes a total idiot, but he is just such a likeable character. There is no way not to feel for him, even when he is embarrassing himself.
“Don’t just act because you can; act because it’s the right thing to do.” 185
The rest of the characters are likewise great. Every single one of them is very different, with varied (usually very tragic) backstories and motivations, and their team dynamic is fantastic. They bicker, and they help each other, and they work for what they believe in, and they are what make the dark dystopian world this book is set in feel alive.
As for the plot of Steelheart, well… I think it’s amazing. It never quite moves in the way you think it will. There are perfectly timed changes and turns, and all the plot twists make sense. Nothing feels like it is only there for shock value. The whole story feels like it is creating a giant picture, and keeps you hanging on each page in hope of finding that final puzzle piece.
Steelheart also has some awesome action sequences. They are tense and surprising and just great.
The only criticism I have for Steelheart is that the romance that is trying to be grown in this first book isn’t really there. In the beginning it feels downright uncomfortable (I loved this pairing in book two and I was still cringing a lot at the beginning of my re-read) and isn’t remotely ship-able until the book is almost over. It was a little rushed and just started off a lot not right.
That said, I love Steelheart and I really encourage you to read it! I know it’s not for everyone, but it really is a great piece of work. I’m obsessed with the reckoners, so maybe you will be too.