A YA Superhero (or rather, Supervillain) Dystopian Fantasy that maintains a skillful blend of character and action.
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them. And David wants in. He wants Steelheart - the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father.
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Source: I purchased this book myself from Audible.
This is Book #1 in "The Reckoners" trilogy. All 3 books and a novella (#1.5) are available in audio.
This book is a bit more action oriented than my usual read. (Yes, I am one of those people who actually skip or fast-forward the fighting, car chases etc. To me, those are the boring parts; I'd rather read about the characters.) Thankfully a lot of the action is very character based, which is good.
David: An adorkable "nerd" (just don't call him that to his face). Totally obsessed, he spends all his free time plotting to take down Steelheart. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to think on his feet and act quickly (although this "improvising" drives Megan crazy). His complete hopelessness with metaphors is cute, but does occasionally get a bit tiresome after 3 books.
Megan: The newest and youngest member of the Reckoner team that David runs into. Hypercompetent, smart, slightly older, very attractive, and blows hot & cold. She sort of reminds me of a typical YA hero.
David & Megan: This is a case of love at first sight (on his part) that doesn't annoy me. He is immediately attracted to her physically (not surprising, since she is dressed to seduce at the time), but it's her competence at kicking-butt that seals the crush.
"I respected her for that. Sparks, I was liking her more and more. And though she hadn’t been particularly affectionate toward me lately, she wasn’t openly hostile and cold any longer. That left me room to work some seductive magic. I wished I knew some."
This is one romance that I was really pulling for.
- The Prof = cranky founder of the Reckoners, the only one as as obsessed as David
- Tia = the brains, and the one who holds them all together when everything is falling apart
- Abraham = the wise man of faith, who always seems to have the best gun (and he's not French, you slontze, he's Canadian).
- Cody = the comic relief whose sense of humor just didn't click with me (I'm not fond of people who can't be serious)
The post-apocalyptic Chicago cityscape is introduced well as David races through it at the beginning. It is a city where the sun hasn't shone for nearly 10 years and where most people live in a steel catacomb dug out below the transformed city. It is a place where anyone can be killed at any time for no reason. And yet, it is an oasis of civilization in the "Fractured States," since it has power and some sort of order.
The Epics (Supers) each have 1 or more abilities of various strengths. And each has a single weakness that negates their ability, and may be quite bizarre.
I LOVE the first line.
“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.”
We then get a great prologue that give us the history of how the world came to be the way it is (I always prefer to know, rather than be strung along and doled out bits & pieces), and of why David hates Steelheart. Followed by:
“I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.
And I will see him bleed again.”
This is a trilogy, so the world's problems aren't resolved by the end. Plus, there are some fairly sharp twists that leave plot points dangling. But I found the end to be satisfying.
Note: Sanderson is very skillful at foreshadowing without making the twists too easy to guess. I love going back and finding all the places that was done.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
- I like how, despite it's comic book origins & plot to take down the villain, the book doesn't ignore the implications and possible consequences of their actions. David recognizes that what they are doing is the equivalent of terrorism (and that all terrorists feel justified). He is also forced to consider what will happen in the resulting power vacuum if they succeed.
- I also like how, when meeting his heroes, he is forced to recognize that they are regular people with strengths & weaknesses.
The narrator is skilled and gives each character their own voice. Accents are well done. David's personality shines. / I listened on 1.25 speed (my usual).
Talk to Me (pretty please)
- Can you recommend any other "Super" fiction for non-comic book fans?
- Do you ever get tired of a character's cute traits over the course of a series?
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