Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson: A Book Review



Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson: A Book Review

Brandon Sanderson is a writing fiend. How he writes so much and so well will forever be beyond me. And I’ve even watched some of his YouTube videos demonstrating his writing process for the next book he has coming out, Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive). I’d highly recommend you go watch them, just to see how he writes, but especially if you are an aspiring writer.

Steelheart is kind of a favorite of Brandon’s. He has spoken about how he has wanted to write this for several years and just had to find the time in between his other big projects. Steelheart is the first of what I believe is supposed to be a trilogy. It is not a long novel, but it is very compelling and very well written.

The Good:
World Building. With Brandon, world building is always a strength. Unlike most of his other books, Steelheart is based in our own world and not Brandon’s cosmere (for those of you unfamiliar with Brandon’s work, most of his books are set in the same world, or cosmere, just on different continents or time periods). That being said, it didn’t take much world building, but it still took enough to make the story real. It takes place in the future, after something has happened to cause some people to become Epics. An Epic is a former human who now has some sort of extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, none of the Epics are nice. There are some in the world that believe there are Epics out there who will be heroes, but so far none have appeared to save the world. The story takes place in Newcago (Chicago of old), and there are plenty of references to current places, technology, etc that lend the story a feel of being entirely possible in our world. The fantastical elements fit well within our world yet bring with them new experiences and excitement.

Brandon’s world building for Steelheart is not the same as it is in his more adult focused fantasy novels. Steelheart is a young adult novel, and he focuses more on the characters, the main character’s voice and how that character grows as a person. The main character, a young man named David, is fairly innocent in many ways of the world, but very mature in other ways since he has grown up owned by the Factory as an orphan and has spent all his free time studying and researching individual Epics and their powers to an extent that no one else has. He hasn’t had much of a life, so is naïve about the little things. He finds and attempts to join the Reckoners, a group that travels the country targeting and killing Epics.  And he convinces them to go after the top Epic in Newcago, Steelheart.

Metaphors. I have often wondered how authors are able to write so many good and different metaphors without them becoming an old and stagnant pond full of rotting fish. Yes, I just attempted a metaphor. Not that good. I have dabbled in writing things and can never describe things well because I can’t come up with good metaphors and similes. Brandon plays on this in the book and I love it. David has a hard time using metaphors that make sense, but really they do make sense, they just aren’t typical and aren’t that good. For example: “Her expression was so frigid you could have used it to liquidcool a high-fire-rate stationary gun barrel. Or maybe some drinks. Chill drinks—that was a better metaphor.” Most of them are so bad the other characters have no idea what he is trying to say, and then he tries to change them and often times they still make no sense.

Steelheart is non stop action—there is not much down time or fancy descriptive writing. The book is a real page-turner and for young adults, a great introduction to fantasy and a great way to keep young people reading.

The Bad:
Steelheart is more of a young adult novel, which may be disappointing to some people. Anything written by Brandon Sanderson, though, I think has the potential to be liked by any and everybody.

The Verdict:
Read: If you’ve read Brandon Sanderson’s other novels, read this one. You will enjoy it. If you haven’t, read it anyways as it will introduce you to a great writer and his other fantastic books.

I’m not even going to tell you who shouldn’t read this book. It’s too difficult.  And because, as you can probably tell, I’m unashamedly a huge Brandon Sanderson fan.