I gave this book to my husband to read first, since he’s a bigger Sanderson fangirl than I am and I can trust him to tell me if a book is worth reading. He flat-out loved this book, and when he was pestering me to put it on the top of my TBR he kept waxing poetic about that first line, “I’ve seen Steelheart bleed.”
So I started reading it, and I read that first line, and I was like, all right, that’s cool, I guess. But by the end of the prologue, when our narrator repeats that line? Sold. Sold, sold, sold.
The premise of this book is that one day, people start waking up with superpowers, which is awesome, and then proceed to become supervillains called Epics, which is… less awesome. No person who gets these powers becomes a hero; all of them seem to be out to become the most badass subjugator of regular human beings. The titular subjugator, Steelheart, is the more or less benevolent dictator of Newcago, a Chicago which has turned to steel because Steelheart, you know, and is also constantly under darkness to protect another Epic called Nightwielder.
But our narrator, David, is not content to live with the status quo, not leastly because Steelheart killed his father in the prologue and should therefore prepare to die. He finagles his way into an underground (literally; much of Chicago’s population lives underground these days) resistance force called the Reckoners, who kill off minor Epics here and there and who are a little put off by David’s half-baked plan to take down Steelheart. But of course they are swayed to it, and so we get to watch the plan finish baking and culminate in an epic battle (get it?).
It’s a pretty good story, with the villains and the heros and the intrigue and the fighting, but where it is great is in the humor. The most obvious source of humor is David’s inability to craft a good metaphor, or a bad one, or really any kind of metaphor, although once he explains them to himself or others they make a weird kind of sense. But there is also the fact that these Epics end up with some really terrible names like Fortuity and Refractionary, and that one of the Reckoners has decided to embrace his Scottish ancestry even though he’s super Southern, and it’s this sort of constant background humor that really made me fall in love with this book.
I do have one complaint about the book, and this is pretty spoilery so skip ahead to the next paragraph if you haven’t read it yet. There is a hint of a completely unnecessary romance subplot throughout the book, and so when the one main female character was taken out of the equation I was disappointed that the one main female character was gone but happy that at least there wouldn’t be that lame romance subplot. But then later a thing happened and I ended up feeling exactly the opposite way, so… yeah. I am keeping my fingers crossed for no lameness in the second book, but it’s a YA novel and I hear that romance stuff sells books.
Other than that frustration, which is not an unusual one for me when it comes to YA books, I really super enjoyed reading this book. It’s fast and fun and has a great premise and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs some brain candy this winter.