Friday, 2 January 2015



Book Title: Steelheart
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Series: Reckoners #1
Date Started: December 31st 2014
Date Completed: January 2nd 2015
Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action
Quality Rating: Four Stars
Enjoyment Rating: Three Stars
Final Rating: Three stars

Brandon Sanderson isn't one of the quiet names fantasy fiction, but this is the first novel I've read of his. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I am glad that I read this not-quite-fantasy, not-quite-sci-fi, not-quite-dystopian.

David is the only one who has seen Steelheart bleed. Everyone else thinks he's invulnerable, the most powerful Epic, and they cower in fear from him. No one tries to fight back, no one tries to save themselves or the city. No one except the Reckoners. They kill Epics. They fight for their freedom. And David is going to find them and help them take down Steelheart.

I could tell that Sanderson normally writes high fantasy because the world building was one of the strongest elements of this novel. As you go through the book you gradually pick up more and more about the history and current state of the city, without always being told it directly and with no information dumping.
Overall, I liked the writing. I expected the have to take my time with Sanderson because of his reputation, but actually his style flows really nicely and lets you work through the pages pretty fast. There was a nice balance of humour and description, action and dialogue, and often a mix of different things at the same time.

When I started reading Steelheart I was slightly worried at how typical it seemed to be for a urban fantasy adventure, but as I read more and more I started imagining it much more like a sci-fi. Which then presented the issue of the phones and more mundane items feeling out of place. But then you have the high-tech items like vaporising gloves (not what they're called but close enough) and armoured robot suits. I'm not sure if it was just me getting confused, but I found it very hard to consistently picture what was going on.
However, the story itself and the character's did pull it back. Though it was clearly written from a man's perspective, the slow build-up of relationships between characters wasn't rushed, and was still questioned by the narrator himself towards the end. It was quite predictable, but was written in the way that it didn't become boringly typical. Furthermore, the big twist was very good in my opinion, and I was kind of annoyed at myself for working it about because it didn't make the end as exciting as it might of been. But, the cliffhanger left enough things hanging to keep me interested - and not in the frustratingly unanswered way I'm used to from Young Adult fiction, but instead with most questions fulfilled, but new ones opened wide up.

There were some really nice characters and good relationships in this book, but the main problem that took away from the whole book for me was the lack of attachment I had to any of them.
I did like David as a protagonist once he started to get involved. At the beginning his blatant focus on getting into the Reckoners got a bit old and didn't do well to introduce his character positively. However, he did get a lot better later on, even though it was a bit too convenient that he knew everything about every Epic they wanted to target.
Megan's cold demeanour worked at first, but again got a bit old. As the main two protagonists, their stories didn't move a whole lot forward, but the way it was intertwined with the plot made it almost unnoticeable (until I sat down and thought about to say, but that's beside the point). I might have not loved this book because it involved a lot of revealing character's backstories for future events, rather than for what was currently going on: filler book syndrome.

I think this book was paced really nicely, and I flew through it after the first few chapters. The way it's structured to show the progression of the plot also stood out to me as being very well suited for the speed of the story: you could tell the time was passing in the narrative, and the characters naturally flowed along with it.

I would recommend Steelheart to YA sci-fi fans, but anyone who enjoys a mix of genres would enjoy it: it's not disastrous enough to fit neatly into dystopian, not mundane enough to be urban fantasy, and not whimsical enough to be exactly sci-fi. But it's definitely got the excitement and pace to keep fans of any of those entertained, and the beginnings of a very good storyline.

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