by Jessica Greenlee
Steelheart is intense. From David’s first encounter with the Reckoners to the final page, there is scarcely time to breathe. This is a story of a small group trying to assassinate an invincible leader, and they don’t have much time.
Ten years ago, Calamity appeared in the sky. Shortly afterward, some people developed super powers of the sort we’ve always dreamed about. They became known as Epics, and people hoped to see superheroes. Instead, they got insane dictators. By the time Steelheart begins, the Epics are in charge. The only people still fighting them are the Reckoners who assassinate Epics one at a time.
David lives in Newcago, a city ruled over by Steelheart, an invincible Epic, and he is determined to join the Reckoners. Steelheart killed his father, and on that day, David saw Steelheart bleed. He knows the Epic has a weakness, and he’s determined to find it and use it to see him killed.
What is impressive about Steelheart is the way that Brandon Sanderson is able to develop the characters as events rush by. The Reckoners come to life as people who care about each other, in their own ways, and as people to root for, even when they questioned themselves. Quick bits of banter, odd quirks, and or gestures help define them and develop their relationships.
Along the way, various moral issues come up. The characters question themselves, and the reader also begins to see that not quite everything is clear cut. The end, in particular, raises new questions that will undoubtedly complicate life in the following books–doubtless to the dismay of the characters but much to the joy of readers.
Steelheart is the best kind of first book: It finishes well on its own terms, giving the reader a complete, satisfying story, while opening the door to further exploration in the future. Here’s looking forward to Firefight!