Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson tackles the age old question of what would happen if normal people gained superpowers all of a sudden. Spoiler alert, nothing good, basically because people are assholes. Technically it’s categorized as Young Adult, but we won’t judge it just for that. Sanderson is known for his completion of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, as well as his Stormlight, and Mistborn books. Gaining a reputation as the “magic system guy” his worlds have very definable rules, and though we may not know them all, you can be sure his characters are acting within the confines of those rules.
While it doesn’t seem so at first Steelheart is no different, and if you play close attention to what he shows you, you may find yourself figuring out the twists before they happen. Some people may have a problem with the predictability, but I like it, the reason you can guess out the outcomes because his stories are real. They don’t take macguffin led twists and turns, and even if you figure out the ending, the journey there is still worth it most of the time.
In the department of character development, and an interesting concept brought to fruition Brandon Sanderson delivers once again. His twist on superheroes gone wrong is superb, and asks a lot of good questions about the nature of people, and how they react to power. For a young adult novel, as it is self proclaimed in being, it has deep themes, and acts as a testament to Sanderson’s skill as a writer.
Everyone of the Reckoners has their own character quirks, and you instantly know who is talking in his dialogue, even without the classic “he said, she said.” That is in my opinion the mark of a great dialogue writer (and a skill I am sorely jealous of). The setting of Newcago itself is an amazing concept, the steel city (literally) comes alive on the page and becomes a character in and of itself.
I’ll be honest here. Not a lot in this book didn’t work for me, so I’m going to have to dig deep on this one. First I suppose I’ll mention the predictability. I’m not sure if this is just because I’m familiar with his writing, and how he interconnects events, or if things were simplified for the Young Adult crowd, but I saw pretty much every twist and turn before they happened. Now you could chalk part of this up to the consistency of his worlds, and how he does not deviate from his “magic” system once it’s in place, but here it was just too easy to see coming.
Other than that, I’d have to say the weakest part about this novel is that it “needs” a sequel. Sure, the main plot comes to a closure, but you are left with more than a few questions, and it’s pretty obvious that it was written as the first in a series. Yes, I’m stretching here, so sue me.
All in all this book really worked for me. The characters were superb, and not just the protagonists, but the villains as well. The setting is spectacular, both in the local Newcago and the world at large. Sanderson was able to craft a truly compelling piece of fiction, and my hat goes off to him.I’ll give it nine out of ten shields. (Seriously, a graphic needs to happen.)
Comments about Steelheart? Place them down below, until next time you rascally adventurers you.