Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

  • Age Range: 12 and up/Grade 7 and up
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (September 24, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0385743564
  • Source: Publisher

A decade ago Calamity came, a meteor that gave people extraordinary powers. Soon these individuals began to be referred to as Epics. Rather than using their power for good, they demanded more power and domination. No one dared to stand up to the Epics other than a rogue group of individuals known as the Reckoners. These individuals lacked any special powers but devoted all their time to studying the Epics so they can be eliminated.

David is an eighteen-year-old young man who is desperate to join the Reckoners. His young life has been spent studying the Epics, specifically Steelheart, the Epic that killed his father.  He has more knowledge of the Epics than any other individual, a knowledge that borders on obsession.  His desire to bring them down is personal; he’s willing to risk everything to bring down the Epic. With the Reckoners, David can finally execute the plan he’s been developing for the past ten years.

First reaction after reading this book? Wow! I read the synopsis and was immediately intrigued.  Sanderson has developed a post-apocalyptic world in Chicago (referred to as Newcago) that is dripping with intensity, never a dull moment.  What makes this novel stand out to me are the Epic’s super powers. They aren’t your typical, run-of-the mill powers.  With these powers come weaknesses that be used to the Reckoner’s advantage. Like Superman and his kryptonite, there is some flaw in their power that can bring them down.  David, through his diligent study of  the Epics, is the unlikely hero that will stop their ten-year reign.

The world Sanderson builds is unique and all together terrifying. He isn’t one of those authors that creates something without any explanation as to its cause; there is a reason and explanation for everything. Additionally, he pays homage to the super heroes/villains in comic books, a novelization of my favorite things about comic books!

While it is labeled as a young adult, don’t let that sway you from reading this novel. It had my attention from the beginning. Honestly, they only thing “young adult” about this book is that the main character is in his teens. There is a bit of violence so perhaps the age range of 12 and up is a bit low; My son is fourteen and I plan on allowing him to read this but do your due diligence and read a sample yourself before passing it on to your child to read.

Overall, I found this to be a incredibly well crafted novel guaranteed to thrill readers of all ages. I’m thrilled that this is the beginning of a three book series. I cannot wait for more! Highly recommended.

Frightful Friday: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I’ve read that week. This week’s featured title is Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines:

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; Reprint edition (February 26, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 0804136572
  • Source: Publisher (egalley)

A zombie outbreak has devastated the Earth. A year later, in Los Angeles, a band of superheroes attempts to protect survivors sheltered in what remains of Hollywood. As if fighting zombies, known as exes (ex-humans), wasn’t enough, the heroes are also forced to battle a rabid street gang known as the Seventeens over remaining supplies.

Told in alternating chapters of “Then” and “Now,” Clines successfully executes a pretty tremendous feat of combining two very different worlds. The heroes he creates are unique, ranging from a human electric current (Zzap) to a man who cannot die yet can heal others (The Regenerator). Each of these individuals have only recently discovered their powers, in most cases many just woke up with these extremely unique talents. Each of the chapters covers the viewpoint of these heroes, allowing readers to both piece together the events that lead to this devastation as well as get a unique viewpoint with each chapter.

It would be easy for a novel like this to crash and burn, but Clines is such a skilled writer (and obvious fan of comic book heroes) that he pulls it off successfully. Down to the origin, physiology and behavior of the zombies/exes, Clines creates a wholly unique spin on a subject matter (zombies) that seems to be exploding lately.

What makes this such a stand-out novel is the cross-over appeal, both fans of comic/super heroes as well as fans of zombie fiction clambering over one another to get their hands on this truly tremendous title.  I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the next book, Ex-Patriots.