Review: Steelheart

Steelheart (The Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’ve come to expect great things from Sanderson, and he didn’t disappoint. Steelheart was a wild ride from beginning to end. My favorite part of this story was the way Sanderson masterfully kept multiple possible avenues open until the very end so I could speculate to my heart’s content and still be surprised by the outcome. I’m happy to say I did deduce at least *some* of the truth, but there were so many tantalizing tidbits sprinkled through the book that it was impossible to get to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Upon reaching the end, I found myself trying to link together all the little clues that had been dropped along the way. Things that hadn’t quite added up, comments that got lost in the hustle, information so well tucked into the text it didn’t stand out until you realized why it had existed in the first place. I don’t know how many drafts Steelheart was written in, but there is a lot of foreshadowing and intricate misdirection in this book that must have been a great pain and pleasure to write.

Sanderson’s writing craft was exemplary. Easy to read prose that ebbed and flowed with the action. A bare minimum of typos (I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book without a single one). The only hiccups that jolted me out of the story were when David, the protagonist, would suddenly switch to present tense and speak as though he were addressing the reader directly, usually while he was speculating on things like his inability to come up with good metaphors. Since the rest of the book was past tense, I found these shifts rather jarring.

The main character, David, was believably written. He was at times rash and reckless (totally normal behavior for an 18-year-old boy), obsessive, and generally convinced of his own rightness. The only place where the characters didn’t feel 100% authentic was the way David fell so hard for Megan, the female lead, almost instantly. I get raging teenage hormones and all, but I’ve never been a big fan of the “love at first sight” trope.

As for the secondary characters, which consisted mostly of the Reckoners group David teamed up with, each was unique and well-rounded. There was Prof, the brooding yet fatherly leader of the group; Tia, the hacker; Cody the Scotsman; Abraham the faithful; Megan the point-man; and of course David, the newbie. There were also a handful of Epic characters, people who’d gained superpowers. Each Epic had unique abilities with specific weaknesses. In fact, finding and exploiting those weaknesses was a lot of what the story revolved around.

Sanderson has long been one of my favorite authors, based primarily on his creative world building. In Steelheart, the world is ours after a shift brought about by Calamity, an as yet unknown force. Regular people rose up as Epics, and to a one they all became evil. Society was torn apart by people who were classified as natural disasters and treated as such, untouchable by human law. The premise was grand, the execution satisfying, and I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who likes a fantastic mystery with plenty of action, and of course for fans of Sanderson’s writing.

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