Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Can Sanderson write a great non-Cosmere book? The answer is a resounding ‘yes!’
I’ve read quite a few superhero decontructions and reconstructions (most famous being Watchmen and Irredeemable), but Sanderson brings something new to the genre, partially by focusing on the folks affected by gods walking among men. (Which, I just realized, brings the idea of superheros being our version of the Greek gods full circle) This is also what I loved about A Song of Ice and Fire that got swept away for the Game of Thrones adaptation. When the powerful bicker, it’s the powerless that suffer. This book is also a bit of a mystery as we are missing a lot of information and while David, the main character, knows a lot more than we do when the novel starts, he still is missing a lot of information. Sanderson does a good job of planting lots of little clues so that the plot twists are well-earned. Even though I guessed one of the plot twists, I was thrown off by the way in which it manifested. (view spoiler)[Yes, Prof was an epic. No, he wasn’t working for Steelheart to infiltrate The Recokoners (hide spoiler)] The ending really hits hard and works quite well.
If there’s one negative, it’s not that bad because it comes with the YA genre – David has a LOT of plot armor. That’s not to say that he makes it to the end of story, but he definitely gets lucky with a lot of gambles.
A few tropes from The Cosmere make an appearance:
– Appearance of the Epics similar to Elantrians in Elantris (view spoiler)[In that folks just wake up one day with power (hide spoiler)]
– Authoritarian/Dictator government and Rebel-terrorists protagonists – similar to Mistborn Era 1. And there is perhaps there may be some other connections between The Lord Ruler and Steelheart, but we’ll have to see when I get to the next book in the series.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend to anyone who’s a super hero fan who wants to experience it as prose rather than comics or movies. (I also recommend A Once Crowded Sky) Also a good recommendation to your YA reader. There isn’t anything bad (especially compared to other YA), but if you’re SUPER prudish and have advanced young readers who can read at the YA-level – know there’s some male gaze prose.
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