As always, the following book review is spoiler free, and highlights the most important qualities of the story. Steelheart is a novel by author Brandon Sanderson about a teenager named David and his quest for revenge on the superheroes (called epics) who have taken over a dystopian, techno-punk Chicago.
Not a comic book, but feels like one—Generally the superhero genre is reserved for comic books. In Steelheart, Sanderson maintains the trappings and conventions of a superhero comic without the illustrations. The result is a sweeping, cinematic narrative that clips along with danger and gunshots around every corner. The book would make an excellent superhero movie, but I struggle to see space for an honest film treatment of the story in the present Marvel/DC saturated market.
Bad Metaphors—The first person narrator of the story is hopeless with metaphors. I found the bad metaphors hilarious, and they made for a fair bit of humor along the way. Compared to Mistborn, Steelheart has more comic beats. The book is a far cry from a comedy, but it was funny in a kind of jocular, tough-people-laugh-in-the-face-of-danger way.
Prologue of Champions—The prologue to Steelheart was one of the best uses of a prologue I have ever seen. Often, the prologue might as well be the first chapter of the story. However, Steelheart‘s prologue is the stand-alone fulcrum of the story. Throughout the book I found myself returning to the prologue, running over its contents in my mind, trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle. The prologue provided a sense of tension and mystery throughout the book.
Twists—While there were many twists in the book, I am both proud and disappointed that I figured out the main pieces of the mystery about 100 pages into the story. Even if you do figure out the pieces like I did, I thought that the way Sanderson went about fleshing out the solutions to the mystery was very satisfying.
Overall, I give Steelheart 3.5 out of 5 stars. The prose was tight and the story never lost momentum, but, like I said, I figured out the ending in the first third of the book. The story relied a lot on ‘teenage boy’ elements (infatuation with weapons, motorcycles, and a female lead in tight-fitting leather pants). Due to the violence and occasional adult overtones, I would recommend this book for high school aged readers on up. The book is the first in a series of books, and I am definitely going to read the next one.
Did you read Steelheart? What did you think?
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