Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (2013)

steelGore! Explosions! Gigantic weapons! What’s not to love?

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   386 (for ISBN 9780385743563)

Genre(s) and keywords: action, dystopian, science fiction

Tone/Style: dark, gritty

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: supervillains, rebellion

Themes: power, revenge

Summary: There are no heroes.

Every single person who manifested powers—we call them Epics—turned out to be evil.

Here, in the city once known as Chicago, an extraordinarily powerful Epic declared himself Emperor. Steelheart has the strength of ten men and can control the elements. It is said no bullet can harm him, no sword can split his skin, no explosion can burn him. He is invincible.

It has been ten years. We live our lives as best we can. Nobody fights back . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans who spend their lives studying powerful Epics, finding their weaknesses, then assassinating them.

My name is David Charleston. I’m not one of the Reckoners, but I intend to join them. I have something they need. Something precious, something incredible. Not an object, but an experience. I know his secret.

I’ve seen Steelheart bleed. (Source)

Who will like this book?: This has wide appeal.  The action, high-tech gadgets, dangerous dystopian world, and twisty plot keep the pages turning.

Who won’t like this book?: It definitely prioritizes action and sci-fi over character development (though the characters hold their own). There’s a bit of thought-provoking material in here, but mostly it’s high-octane fluff of the gritty variety. The plotis great for reluctant readers, but they may find the length dautning.

Other comments: This is one of my favorites to booktalk. Just mention that it has explosions and motorcycle chases and it’s sold. Be aware that there’s a fair amount of violence in here. At risk of being a total gender stereotyper… it’s a good one to recomend to boys.

Sequel(s): The Reckoners series: Firefight (2015), Calamity (2016)

Readalikes: The Michael Vey series by Richard Paul Evans, Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs, The Rig by Joe Ducie

Kylie Peters

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