Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
I’ve learned that I really fucking love Brandon Sanderson’s work. Go figure. I know a bookseller friend of mine was trying to get me hooked on the Alcatraz books but I never bit. However, a different friend told me to read the Mistborn series, for which I am eternally grateful. And of course, his fine work on putting the finishing touches on The Wheel of Time. The advantage is that Sanderson writes TONS of books. Motherfucker just finished a book while I was typing this paragraph. And another while you were reading it.
The Reckoners series is his foray into young adult, and it’s a hell of an entry. If anyone else said, “I’m going to write a post-apocalyptic teen angst story about superheroes” I’d scream CASH GRAB like I was an audience member of a Japanese game show. But this series works WELL.
Basically, the Calamity, a red star-like object, appears in the sky over Earth. And suddenly a few people begin to develop superpowers. These are the Epics. The Epics are not heroes. The book opens with the lead character watching as one Epic appears and starts disintegrating people at random in a bank. He is then accosted by Steelheart, a massive impervious Superman who has the ability to shoot energy beams and turn things to steel. The boy’s father shoots Deathpoint — the disintegrator — slightly wounding Steelheart in the process. Steelheart proceeds to grab the gun and murder the father with it. Then he kills everyone in the bank. Then he turns the entire building to steel. When rescue workers later go in to gather the bodies, he has a different Epic collapse the building killing everyone. Except David, our hero.
Ten years later, Newcago is under the dictatorial thumb of Steelheart and his Epic hangers-on. It’s an impoverished slavish existence, where the Epics can pretty much do whatever the hell they want, because there is no one to stop them. So David inexpertly joins the Reckoners, a group of rebels who are actively working to kill the Epics who have taken over most major cities.
Steelheart follows as David tries to learn to become a Reckoner, and his burgeoning romance with Megan, one of his teammates. It’s a solid young adult book, with excellent action, a really banging story, and plenty of potential for future entries. You can see the influence of Sanderson’s video game work all over this story, from gaining stronger technology, to learning the secret weaknesses of the heroes. There’s rumors this will become a TV series — I don’t know how it would work, but after seeing how they pulled over Daredevil, I’m game.