I was intrigued by the premise of Steelheart: a “Calamity” occurred in our solar system after which some humans develop superhuman powers. These humans are referred to as “Epics.” No one knows why these particular people have been gifted with these incredible abilities. While many superheroes have backstories that involve unusual events resulting in extraordinary powers, Steelheart‘s premise is that with the advent of their new powers these Epics become–without exception–selfish, entitled and cruel. They can (and do) take whatever they want and behave without regard for the human lives around them. The result is the collapse of civilization and the emergence of The Fractured States.
The main character is David. He watched the Epic, Steelheart, kill his father ten years ago and now, at 18, he wants to join the Reckoners–the only group of people trying to oppose the tyranny of the Epics. Each Epic has a weakness which makes him/her vulnerable to defeat. Understandably, the Epics make every effort to hide whatever weakness puts them at risk. David has spent the last decade compiling and organizing information on the Epics: who has what abilities, to what intensity and hypotheses about each of their weaknesses. David wants revenge against Steelheart for his father’s death and figures the best way to achieve his goal is to become a member of the Reckoners.
I was extremely intrigued by the premise of the novel and, having read Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians series and thought it brilliantly incisive and funny, I was anxious to read Steelheart. I was not disappointed. David does join the Reckoners, and we meet Megan, Cody, Abraham and Prof, the leader of the Reckoners. In general, the story kept my interest due to David’s character. The way he wears his heart on his sleeve combined with his sometimes impulsive choices in dangerous situations are alternately funny, sweet, frustrating and cringe-worthy. Taken as a whole, David epitomizes a young man who believes he can change the world and is passionate about his beliefs. One of his most endearing characteristics is his tendency to create and use metaphors that don’t really make any sense; I love the way the other characters play off him in these situations. David is one of the most likeable YA protagonists I have come across due to both the depth of his thoughts and feelings and the genuine openness of his heart.
Sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian themes are not usually what I am drawn to read, but Sanderson has created in Steelheart an engaging story with a compelling hero. This was a 3.5/5 star read for me and I would easily recommend it(In fact I already have!)–particularly to those who enjoy the sci-fi/fantasy genre.