This is the third book/series I’ve read by Sanderson, and the first one I’ve read by him that is considered YA. I’ve noticed a sort of recurring tone in his books, but first the general synopsis.
People with superpowers appear, but they’re all bad. These super-powered people, called Epics, throw the world into chaos, destroy traditional government, and eventually establish their own fiefdoms/territories. The Epic called Steelheart kills David’s father, and eventually takes over Chicago. David grows up, joins a band of rebels, and get them to help him try to kill Steelheart. We readers know it’s not an impossible goal impossible because they’re the heroes and book heroes usually win, but still, Steelheart is basically an evil Superman.
There were parts I like and parts I didn’t like. For the most part, I didn’t like Meghan, or David’s interest in her. I kinda liked the idea of Epics having weaknesses, but I didn’t like how stupid/specific some of said weaknesses were; I understand parallels can be found in comic books, but I don’t like it in comic books either. For example, David says there was an Epic that could only be killed by someone that was 37 years old; that’s almost on par with Captain Marvel Jr. and Wonder Woman for stupid weaknesses.
Newcago is pretty depressing. In fact, that’s something I’ve noticed about Sanderson’s works: there has been something depressing or threatening in every book. Steelheart is actually the lightest, most “fun” book by him that I’ve read, and I still wouldn’t really call it fun until the second half of the story. That’s not to say his books are bad – quite the opposite – but if you’re looking for a light read and/or the book equivalent of a summer blockbuster popcorn flick, Sanderson is not your author.
The idea of all superpowered people being bad was different, and the end of the book was a significant improvement over the begining. There was a love interest, but no actual romance or love triangles in sight (yay!). The one character that annoyed me ended up having a reason for being annoying, so overall I’d say it was a good read.
I need to discuss the character Meghan, and there will be significant spoilers as a result. Meghan really irritated me. She seemed nice at first, but was cold/bitchy for most of the story. This was particularly irritating because despite her mood swings, David had a crush on her.
It turns out the Meghan is actually an undercover Epic, sent to spy on the rebels/Reckoners. In fact, she if Firefight. The mood swings are related to Epics are crueler when they’re actively using their powers, and at times Meghan was sneakily using her’s. I like this explanation for her moodiness, especially since she’s not the only character that faces this problem. My main concern is that it looks like the sequel is going to revolve around her and trying to save her, so I hope Sanderson continues to manage avoiding the sappiness/stupidity of many YA novels.