Book Review – Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart is book 1 of 20 in my 2021 reading challenge! Follow me on Goodreads here: <https://www.goodreads.com/diyanalovesbooks> and we can strengthen each other! Make sure to message me in case I miss the first notification! Let’s do this!

OH MY LANTA

As I type, my mind is still whirring from the Epic ending of Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. What a novel!

Brandon Sanderson does it again with an action-packed, mind-bending novel that just won’t quit- but this time with supervillians.

The time it took to finish this 409-page book was 10 hours and 5 minutes. And to be honest, my reading time would have been much less if I hadn’t been so busy when I started it.

Rating

Let’s start off with a rating. My rating of this book is: 4.5 ⭐

Below I will rate each category with stars next to the heading. This will give you a non-complicated idea of why I gave the book its overall rating.

Without further ado, let’s go!

SUMMARY

Steelheart is book one of the Reckoners Series trilogy. From the moment I opened my *Libby app and swiped through the pages, I was in awe of how captivating it was from the first lines. Every single page in this book begged for more- and delivered quite well.
The main character is David, a clever but quirky 18-year-old young man who wants one thing and one thing only: To remember everything and forgive nothing. To remember the fateful day of his father’s passing, and to never forgive the Epic that was the cause of it- Steelheart himself.
In a world where people suddenly become superhumans and a wicked majority choose evil over good, David finds himself fighting for what is right- even if he is one of the only few to do so.
Unexpected and heart-tugging relationships (whether for the best or the worst) weave like a needle and thread throughout the entire story, creating a beautiful and catastrophic masterpiece.

PRAISE AND CRITIQUE

The dystopian universe you’re thrown into in this book is quite astounding- encapsulating any ideas of what normal life used to be. I personally enjoyed every character in the book and even found that their development was very smooth and believable. No uncalled-for jerks in charity or compassion, no sudden turn from friendly to full-on supervillain- although I’m not saying these themes aren’t in the book. Every foreshadow, every hint, is smooth and meaningful and I ate it up. And as expected, Sanderson’s identifiable world making trumps again with vocabulary and phrases that are unique to the book- none overbearing or silly.

My strongest critique would be on the claustrophobia of the action scenes. I’m not going to lie, the action scenes were amazing, but they felt a bit stuffy at times. This is especially because there were many back-to-back action scenes (more than I can count) that came and went so quickly it was hard to keep up. I felt like my eyes couldn’t move fast enough to create a cohesive image in my head. If this is also something you struggle with while reading, comment on your experiences down below!

Main characters – ProtagonisTS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

David: 18 years old. Male. Orphan. He saw Steelheart bleed- the most indestructible, heinous man to live, bled- and he vowed he would see it again. He joins the biggest rebel group known to the new world- the Reckoners- to kill off his and most of Newcago’s biggest enemy. His keen attention to detail is a great aid in their mission.

Megan: Age unknown. Female. She joined the Reckoners just before David and has an odd affinity towards him- often with distaste. She is handy with a handgun and keeps grenades in her top- all to David’s (tentative) fancy.

Prof: Age unknown. Leader of the Reckoners. Talented scientist and strategist of the group and keeps everyone in line. Not much else is known about him.

Cody: Age unknown. Male. One of the Reckoners. Scottish but Australian but Southern…? Cody is an interesting mate. He is a great weaponry man and usually is the humorous relief in the book.

Abraham: Age unknown. Male. One of the Reckoners. Calm and peaceful in any situation. Like to lug around huge and impressive guns. French Canadian.

Tia: Age unknown. Female. Tech expert and brain of the bunch. She gets the Reckoners into hard-to-reach places and accesses hard-to-find information.

Conclusion: I love each character, but I wish we had paid more attention to Abraham and Tia (even without backstories). I often forgot about them in the book and didn’t feel like I could fully appreciate them when they did get their chance.

MAIN CHARACTERS – ANTAGONISTS: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Steelheart: Age unknown. Male. The main antagonist of the book and E.V.I.L. His favorite pastime is destroying buildings and instilling pungent fear in the general public with his deathly energy rays. Immune to bullets, fire, radiation, bombs, missiles, acid, drowning, etc.

Nightwielder: Age unknown. Male. Steelheart’s right-hand man. He is a very powerful Epic who can turn the day into night and is behind the reason Newcago is in permanent nighttime. He is totally incorporeal, making him a difficult target.

Firefight: Age unknown. Male. Steelheart’s left-hand man. His power is intense heat and light, often honing a blinding light around his body at all times, often looking like a ball of fire. He can melt bullets as they come at him, making him a hard target to hit as well.

Conflux: Age unknown. Male. An Epic that is one tier below Steelheart’s close knit crew. He is a VERY powerful Epic who has enough strength to power the entire city of Newcago day and night- or night and night.

Conclusion: I LOVE the Epics and each little quirk you learn about them. They have very complex powers and weaknesses that keep you guessing constantly.

World building ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The world in Steelheart isn’t as foreign as we may think it to be with all of the superpowers and literal 180-degree change in the environment. It takes place in a dystopian Chicago. Because the world is under distress from the wicked Epics, the world has morphed quite a bit- physically and especially mentally. The people of Newcago, we read, are afraid of being out of line in the slightest lest a lower or higher Epic decides to put them in their place, mercilessly.

As the antagonists of the book, the Epics vary and come in all shapes and sizes. How fun!
Some have powers of electricity, others of fire, some can turn the day into night and others can see into the future. Every Epic does have a weakness, but they are very hard to pinpoint.

The Reckoners- the brave characters I pointed out above are the only few who would dare stand up to any Epic. It’s almost like hunting down a river snake in the river.
The Reckoners are a a very strong crew, although there only be a handful of them.

There is a lot of reference to weaponry in the book. A lot. I am not too familiar with it, but anyone who geeks over rifles and grenades would really love this book’s keen attention to detail. I didn’t doubt the authenticity of the weaponry at all and didn’t feel out of place in the storyline.

*Also, I would remind you again that the entire city is constantly at night and everything- yes everything- is covered in steel. Try imaging that while you read! It was difficult for me to imagine this at times, but when you really get the hang of it, the book is that much more rewarding.

Conclusion: I love the idea of Newcago, a dystopian city that is familiar yet foreign, but I had a hard time imagining where we really were while reading. I found myself imagining the city not covered in steel and not at nighttime every other chapter. This might not be Brandon Sanderson’s fault, but I for one was having a difficult time feeling completely immersed in the story because of this.

Theme ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The overarching theme of Steelheart is Good vs. Evil. David and the Reckoners are the good and the Epics, the evil. I would also add that the major theme of Good vs. Evil is built upon minor themes such as overcoming barriers and fighting for hope.

Conclusion: These age old themes don’t get old in Steelheart. It is portrayed very cleverly and is a refreshing take.

Quotes and examples

“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. And I will see him bleed again.”

“She can shoot like a dream and she carries tiny grenades in her top, a bit of my addled mind thought. I think I might be in love.”

“I know, better than anyone else, that there are no heroes coming to save us. There are no good Epics. None of them protect us. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“Don’t just act because you can; act because it’s the right thing to do. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be all right.”

“But even a ninety-year-old blind priest would stop and stare at this woman. If he weren’t blind, that is. Dumb metaphor, I thought. I’ll have to work on that one. I have trouble with metaphors.”

“What do you trust when your own thoughts and emotions seem to hate you?”

Conclusion

In conclusion, I HIGHLY recommend Steelheart. It has a strong fantasy vein but is quite realistic- and believable (that’s important in books like these).
The moment I picked up the book, I believe I read for about an hour nonstop. This is a true page-turner with plenty of gripping excitement and hilarious dialogue.

Other book suggestions

If you were drawn to gritty survival of those left behind by a catastrophic world, then you would love Gone by Michael Grant! However, if the superhero/power is more of your vibe, then Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman just might be your next favorite book.

I am SO excited to read the second book in the series, Firefight. I have another two weeks before Firefight is available to me on Libby, so until then, I’ll just have to obsess over it with other readers online.

Let me know what you thought of this review! If you’ve read the book, what did you like about the book and why? What did you not like? No spoilers, please!

Thank you and I hope you have a great week!

*Libby is an online reading application, for those of you who don’t know. This saved me during the pandemic! While most library’s are still closed or have very limited options, you can access any book that is in your library. How so, you ask? You only need a library card and you can access all of your favorite books online for free, if they are offered as an ebook! Libby is a 10/10 app for me and I highly recommend.

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