“Steelheart” is the first in a trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson. It’s young adult fiction, granted, but Sanderson generally does a great job of entertaining a more sophisticated audience.
The story focuses on post-apocalyptic America, after evil super-powered “Epics” destroy civilization. One of the Epics, named Steelheart, sets up an empire in Chicago similar to fictional city in the video game, “inFAMOUS.” Daniel, one of the children living in Newcago, seeks a way to kill the Epic. To do this, Daniel attempts to join a group of Epic hunters named the Reckoners.
The setting alone is extremely well thought out. Despite being intended for teens, Sanderson creates a fully developed city with causes and effects that go further than the reader potentially realizes. The Epic’s powers and weaknesses have a superhero feel, but with a subtle push of applied logic to better immerse the reader. The strongest points of this book are the super-power designs and the plot twists.
The characters are fairly developed from an objective point of view. The characters have motivations, experiences, goals — all of which are necessary — but few of them are outstanding enough to pick a favorite. The characters stand out while playing their part, because that’s when they are needed. At first, they all seem rather two dimensional, but by the end, they develop rather well.
Another major driving point for this book is the imagery of the action scenes. For just one example, a singular scene involving motorbikes is so well written, the imagery will stick in the reader’s mind long after reading the novel. The actions scenes make “Steelheart” thoroughly exciting to experience. Really, the book has entire scenes which vividly scream, “CGI fight scene.” Brandon Sanderson is obviously pushing for a movie, which fans would undoubtedly wholehearted go to see.