Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Brandon Sanderson's 'Steelheart'

Okay, so here’s a warning: I totally love Brandon Sanderson as an author and will be completely biased about anything he writes! He even makes me want to read Robert Jordan again (I gave up around book eight). So something new from him makes me so happy and incredibly energised for this review. So sorry if you don't want that biased casually seeping out, because it may just happen.
‘Steelheart’ is a new novel by Brandon Sanderson, and part of a new series too (which means I can expect some more great novels from him – remember I did use the word biased). ‘Steelheart’ is an urban fantasy novel where Earth has changed since a strange light known as Calamity appeared in the sky. Since calamity’s appearance, particularly ordinary men and women have found themselves with superhuman abilities, now known as Epics. But while they may have the powers of comic book heroes, they certainly don’t have the attitudes of them.

The novel itself focuses on a young boy named David who saw his personal world transformed when one such invincible hero called Steelheart kills his father. For ten years David has lived only for one thing: revenge. In order to do that, David has to join a group of Reckoners who pick off Epics one at a time once they find out each weakness. It’s the only hope David believes he has of finally exacting his revenge.

Being a nerd, I love superheroes so it automatically draws me into this story. I enjoyed the industrialist feel of the cityscape and the intertwining of futuristic technologies with the link to the real world. It’s always something to look forward to with urban fantasy, that ability to link a reader with a story so much more easily than having to understand a whole new world (not that I’m knocking high fantasy at all – hello Mistborn trilogy!). The writing is solid and the play with language Sanderson has employed (David has a penchant for not using metaphors correctly) is fun. I also always look for the twists he adds to each novel. ‘Steelheart’ is no exception to me; though I did find myself searching for them and not just enjoying the ride. But that’s only because I know he is going to alter a genre in a way I’m really going to love.

It is very hard for me to find things I don’t like about Sanderson’s writing: which means this critique will probably be short. Some readers may find the metaphors overused. Being someone who enjoyed a character who played with metaphors, this didn’t particularly bother me, but I can understand how it might annoy others. One thing that I did find strange was the use of the word ‘mobile’ instead of ‘cell’. Being not only an American writer, but having the novel set in Northern America made this strange for me (though not the word ‘mobile’, since this is common in Oz).

But really that’s all I have for that section: one use of a word and something that may or may not be annoying to other readers of this book. I enjoyed seeing superheroes in a different light. I enjoyed the feel and flow of ‘Steelheart’ too, not to mention characters with intriguing quirks. The writing is solid, tight and the action is well paced. I like how Sanderson can really take a simple idea and delve deeply into it: just how would ordinary humans deal with excess power in their lives that they can do anything with?

I really can’t wait for the next book to hit the shelves! I recommend people running out to find it if they are a fan of Sanderson, superheroes, or both. Or maybe even if you want to just try something new and different to read.

5/5 (remember … biased … so it’s probably more a 4/5 if I were being completely objective)

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