Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Review: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson may have missed his vocation.

What a thing to say about one of the most respected current writers of high epic fantasy.

Steelheart is not high epic fantasy. It's supers. Without the heroes part. Sanderson asks us to consider a world in which people are granted powers by a mysterious event.

And every one of them is evil.

Then he introduces us to 18-year-old David. Yes, this is YA post apocalyptic. It reminds me a lot of Divergent, perhaps because both books are (by some coincidence) set in Chicago. Except it's better. Much better.

The "Epic" Steelheart kills David's father as part of a rampage in which he takes over Chicago and turns it into the cyberpunk-esque Newcago. Vowing revenge, David dedicates his life and considerable intelligence to one cause: Vengeance.

But how can normal people take on supervillains that are, in some cases, even more powerful than Superman?

Fortunately, Brandon gives them an edge - each and every Epic has a personalized achilles heel. Some weakness. Some way to destroy them - if you can only find it. And David, hooking up with the Reckoners, a rebel group determined to take down the epics, might just have the key to Steelheart's locked in his memory.

This isn't your bright and cheerful Golden Age superhero story - this is a chilling, gritty tale in which, yes, the death count gets fairly high. (It's YA, but I'd put it in the older teen range).

(Copy received at World Fantasy Con. Sequel bought promptly).