"I've seen Steelheart bleed."
This unique book deserves its praised reputation. When we think in the world of superpowered beings, we reach to saviors, bringers of light, order, and peace. Steelheart instead brings in the anti of that, superhumans bent on controlling and breaking worlds rather than building them. David is one more person who seeks to overcome the self-imposing rulers, latching on to a group determined to find the flaws of 'Epics' and kill them. While they all have their own unique powers, they each have a unique weakness as well, usually too hidden to find without meticulous research and downright stalking.
The opening sets a tragic tone, so right away the reader is able to latch on to the protagonist's motivating drive for revenge and change. After this the novel drives into tense scenes between the saving group called Reckoners, a group David desperately wants to power up with to overcome his town's epic. It's not easy to do, as not every one in the group is on board with David's plans and targets. This is as interesting as the fights with the villains, the internal power struggle that makes him doubt not only the members but himself.
This isn't to say the battles between the actual epics themselves aren't good, because they're actually great. The group has a consensus belief that epics were never human, or when they become epics they shed their humanity like a snake skin. They seem to have little feelings and little attachment to humanity and compassion. The guy who brings about darkness (can't think of his name) reminded me of Nocturne from League of Legends. Too funny because I kept picturing his trademark "Darkness!" cry. The finale battle with Steelheart and David is an incredible scene, with the sun rising behind Steelheart's face, blinding David as he finally sees the truth.
There's a twist or two, of course. Even if I suspected some of them and turned out right with my predictions, they were still creatively maneuvered twists I give the author kudos for. And of course everyone reading this book has it in the back of their minds where they are trying to figure out Steelheart's weakness. How about it, were you right? I wasn't. It was nice to see the protagonist have the same idea I did, though, showing I wasn't as clever as I thought.
This is my first venture into Sanderson's work, and it will not be a isolated voyage. I'll keep coming back, first to the sequels of this series and then perhaps to other works. Because not only did this book have a unique idea of villains to seek out and destroy, raising stakes along with questions on morality, humanity's standing, and internal corruption opening the eyes on black and white issues, but it also didn't shy away from the darkest moments of the heroes themselves.
It reverses the order where the lone man is the savior and the superhuman the villain. The monster is real, the monster is scary, and the monster has powers the saviors don't. Or is that the case in the end after all? The opening has a man killed because he has an unshakeable belief in the goodness of an epic. The book spends its duration showing that the man was wrong, that the epics are bad. But then the book closes with a question of that really being the case after all. It's a book that makes you think, makes you wonder, and so it's a book that works.
“We were like deaf people trying to dance to a beat we couldn't hear, long after the music actually stopped.”
“Don't just act because you can; act because it's the right thing to do. If you keep that in mind, you'll be all right.”