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Friday, March 28, 2014

Steelheart: It's Thrilling, Just Not Uniquely So

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Dave Charleston has only one goal:  kill the man who murdered his father.  Easier said than done, especially since the killer isn't a man at all.  Not anymore.  Steelheart is an Epic, an ordinary human turned super being.  With the power to control the elements, he is merciless and unstoppable.  Other Epics live in Newcago, preying on its human population in their own uniquely sadistic ways, but none dare to challenge Steelheart for rule of the city.  Thus, the super monster enjoys supreme reign, meaning he does anything he wants to anyone he chooses at anytime he wants.  Invincibility has its perks.  

Only 18-year-old Dave knows the truth.  Only he has seen Steelheart bleed.  Only he knows that the metallic man can be wounded, even killed.  Exactly how this is done Dave isn't sure—he just knows it's possible.  Convincing others of this fact, however, is a whole 'nother ballgame.  If only Dave can make the Reckoners—a small, but effective group of human resistance workers—believe him, then maybe he'll stand a chance against the mighty Steelheart.  Maybe not, but he has to try.  He craves revenge, justice and freedom from the cruel tyranny of the power-hungry Epics.  Will he get it?  Or will he die trying?  
Steelheart, the first book in a new YA series by veteran sci fi/fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson, offers an action-packed story set in a harsh dystopic Chicago.  It's a tale stuffed to bursting with danger, death and dazzling super beings.  An intense page-turner that never really stops to take a breath.  It's not the kind of thing I usually read, but hey, it's Sanderson, so I gave it a shot.  Given how much the author's Mistborn series enthralled me, maybe I was expecting too much from Steelheart because, although this novel thrills, it does so in kind of a generic way.  I'm sure I'm going to be in the minority on this, but I found Steelheart a little disappointing.  The characters didn't pop for me, the prose seemed kind of stale and the world-building (which I've come to think of as Sanderson's very own super power) just wasn't up to par.  For me, the whole story lacked the originality I've come to expect from this author.  So, yeah.  I know lots of readers adored this book—unfortunately, I'm really not one of them.  Not that I detest the book or anything, I just found it frustratingly average.  Ah, well.

(Readalikes:  This isn't my usual genre, so I can't think of anything.  Can you?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:  

for violence/gore; brief, mild language (no F-bombs); and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of Steelheart from the generous folks at Random House via those at Edelweiss.  Thank you!


  1. I agree that Sanderson's world-building in this one wasn't up to his own standards. I found that to be true in his other YA novel, The Rithmatist. Maybe he's playing down a bit to the audience? Heavy on the action sequences, light on everything else. The problem is, YA audiences appreciate a great world as much as anybody.

    1. Totally agree. Teen readers deserve great world-building, too!

      I haven't read THE RITHMATIST yet, so I'll have to see how it compares to this one.


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