It’s only one week until Brandon Sanderson’s brilliant new series hits the shelves, kicking off with Steelheart, and we could not be more excited. Especially because we’re already getting rave reviews from the Gollancz Geeks, and we only sent it to them last week! Our first review is from Elizabeth, who has an awesome vlog where she discusses books, mainly SF and Fantasy. You can check out Books and Pieces here and follow her on Twitter.
We’re also so generous, you can read the fourth chapter here. Enjoy!
Lets just get it out there: Steelheart is a superhero novel and a YA superhero novel at that. Now don’t just run away now assuming this isn’t for you because before reading this book I would have thought that too.
I don’t know why, but caped crusaders never floated my boat and I’ve had enough bad YA to recognise the standard drill. Dystopian near future world – check, Love interest – check, Near constant action – check.
However I should not have doubted. Seriously, I am never doubting Sanderson again. This was the most exciting book I’ve read in months. I sat down to get started and didn’t look up for 91 pages. Intended to read a chapter or two before bed, I blink and it’s two hours later and I’m practically vibrating with tension because OH MY GOD all the things!!
First off the plot was fun and intriguing. We’re in a world a bit like X-Men where an unknown calamity has given some people extraordinary powers and they’re known as Epics. Some control the weather, some can stop bullets, some can fly, you get the picture. But the twist here, and I love this twist, is that not one of them became a good guy. No Superman, no Batman, no X-Men, nobody to stop society being torn apart into fractured dictator states.
Then, instead of a superpowered hero coming to miraculously save the day, what we have is story about a small group of human renegades – The Reckoners – who attempt to stalk and kill as many of the Epics as possible. Our protagonist David is obsessed with getting revenge against Steelheart, one of the most powerful Epics, who killed his father a decade ago.
Now reading the story you are, of course, rooting for the The Reckoners and their quest to kill Steelheart but Sanderson doesn’t allow us to blindly accept this as a fight between good and evil. As ‘David versus Goliath’ as the battle initially appears Sanderson makes us seriously question and examine what’s happening. It isn’t purely good humans versus purely bad Epics. David is forced to confront the morality (or lack thereof) of what he is doing at many points in the story. There’s no sugar coating or simplification of what is, essentially, a complicated global political situation. The Reckoners aren’t ‘ridding the world of a villain’, they’re killing a person; a super-human dictator person, granted, but a person nonetheless. The fulfilment of their plan will not magically end the superhero problem but, in all likelihood, bring about the start of a drawn out civil war. No sweet talk here children.
And isn’t that great? Isn’t that fan-flipping-tastic? Just because it’s YA doesn’t mean everything has to be easy to explain. Teenagers aren’t simple and the world isn’t either.
So, politics, morality and human nature. Doesn’t sound like super fun time really, does it? But it is! It so is. It’s not heavy going, it’s not sentimental, nothing slows this book down. It’s as action packed as every superhero movie I’ve ever seen and if this doesn’t get made into a film I will be surprised. And annoyed. Definitely annoyed.
Star rating: 5/5. Fantastical, wonderful, all the good words.