So, you know, I’ve only read one other Sanderson novel, Mistborn, so I can’t say how this book compares to his others. I’m not writing as a superfan, just a casual reader.
This is one of those books where you almost feel you’re watching a movie while you read. The characters and setting are that vivid. I’m sure this series will be a movie at some point, or maybe a TV show. I found myself thinking of Agents of SHIELD, only better. It’s superheroes, but a slightly different take on it all.
David is 18 years old and has one mission in life: to avenge his father and kill Steelheart, the super-being who runs near-future Chicago. The book takes place some 15 years or so after “The Calamity”, which is the mysterious event that turned a small number of humans into Epics. Steelheart is the most powerful of all the Epics, with no weaknesses known to man.
David has spent every spare moment studying the Epics. He’s determined to meet the Reckoners, a band of humans who are the only people who have dared to resist the Epics. The Reckoners travel around and assassinate any Epics they can, and no one knows who they are or how they do what they do.
This book is classified as young adult, and as with a lot of young adult books, this seems more a function of marketing than story. It’s less complex than an epic fantasy novel like Mistborn, but David is an adult as are the rest of the characters. Since the “new adult” genre seems completely silly to me, I’ll just skip all that and say you won’t give a damn whether this book is YA or not. Once you pick it up, you’ll have a hard time putting it down.
I won’t tell you more except to say this book is a lot of fun, but also has thoughtful characters and dialogue. These aren’t mindless characters and there are consequences to their actions. There are parts of the story I saw coming and parts I didn’t, but that’s what I expect from a book like this.
Another thing I loved was Sanderson’s tongue-in-cheek use of metaphors. I’m such a language geek, I appreciate any book where the character makes fun of his own use of language. For example: David says at one point he feels like “a brick filled with porridge.”
“It makes sense! Listen. A brick is supposed to be strong, right? But if one were secretly made of porridge, and all the other bricks didn’t know, he’d sit around worrying that he’d be weak when the rest of them were strong. He’d get smooshed when he was placed in the wall, you see, maybe get some of his porridge mixed in with that stuff they stick between bricks.”
One of these days I’m going to use that one.
The last thing I’ll say is this: this was the very rare book that builds to a conclusion that didn’t feel like a letdown. In fact I can’t wait for the next book, Firefight. There’s a short story out now, Mitosis, to tide us over til then.
Now I just have to stop picking up new series and finish some of the ones I’ve already started. Sigh.