“Steelheart” an intro to Brandon Sanderson and Supervillains

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Brandon Sanderson is a big name fantasy author, and for a couple years now I’ve been dragging my feet to read any of his things. Mostly because a lot of his books are super long (Way of Kings is 1,007 pages), and I prefer to read books that I can finish within a week. However, after some urging from my husband, I decided that I would give his YA books a chance since they are much more manageable.

So I picked up Steelheart and was blown away. This is a great book. Full of fantastic world building, hilarious narration, a good ensemble cast, and plenty of surprise twists and turns that I thought I was expecting, but really wasn’t.

One of Sanderson’s biggest strengths is his world-building. He is talented at furnishing his stories with details of the world without bogging down the story or characters. In Steelheart takes place in a world much like our own, except that in this world, a star appeared in the sky that turned people into supervillains. In that, Sanderson takes something that has been done time and time again (X-Men, Marvel, DC) and turns it into something different. This isn’t your normal superhero story, this is a story where there are no superheroes. Only supervillains and regular people trying to stand up to them, and it was really good.

Another reason it is so good is due to the fluid writing and clever characterizations. Steelheart is written in first-person, and the narrator is hilarious. David is a quirky, persuasive and optimistic young man who has a lot of trouble with metaphors. Seeing the story through his eyes made me snort a lot, and laugh out loud almost as much. Honestly, in a book that is so action packed I was really surprised that it was so funny.

All in all, this is a great, fun book, full of super powers, misguided metaphors, quirky characters, and even a little romance.

5 Stars.

 

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Revenge and Choice in “A Creature of Moonlight”

Rebecca Hahn’s A Creature of Moonlight is a beautifully written tale of a young girl finding and making her home and her destiny. In a world where everything is chosen for young women, many have been drawn to the magical forests in an attempt to escape their seemingly inevitable destinies. Once these young women enter the forest, they are never seen or heard from again.

This is the case for all except one. Marni’s mother came back from the forest, pregnant, but otherwise unharmed. But when her brother discovers her pregnancy, he tracks her down and her young child. He kills her, and threatens to kill Marni too, but she is saved by her Grandfather, the king, who trades his kingdom for her life.

After growing up near the forests, Marni is being pulled between two worlds: that of the magical forest where her father, a dragon, lives, and that of the kingdom to which she is the sole heir.

Hahn does an excellent job of telling this original fairytale through a feminist lens, focusing on a woman’s right to choose her own destiny, and the importance of that choice.

(Warning! Some minor spoilers lie ahead). Continue reading “Revenge and Choice in “A Creature of Moonlight””

Reading “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

An emotionally inaccessible young woman with a deadly gift – the ability to kill quickly, easily, and with a single blow – learns the meaning of humanity in this 400+ page fantasy debut novel. Kristin Cashore writes beautifully in the first installment of the Graceling Realm trilogy, Graceling, in which she creates a world where certain people are born with “graces” or special abilities. These people are ostracized from society and such is the world that our protagonist, Katsa, is born into. The niece of a king, Katsa’s deadly abilities lead her to lose herself to rage and fear. The king uses her to do his dirty work, and Katsa, not quite understanding the extent of her power, blindly obeys, hating herself and her uncle for her cruel assignments. However, when a stranger opens Katsa’s eyes to her ability to control her emotions and actions, and choose  for herself what she will and will not do, Katsa becomes a new woman on a quest to redeem her former actions.

This book explores themes of humanity, suggesting that humanity shows itself when we control our base impulses and emotions, and is lost when control is forsaken. I really enjoyed the exploration of this theme through not only Katsa, but also through the villains and some side characters.

The romance within Graceling easily sucks the reader in, loving Katsa and Po throughout as they learn to trust, and to accept what cannot be changed. While the romance was a highlight of this book, it was targeted toward an older audience, containing some suggestive scenes.

The plot, while somewhat straightforward at the beginning, continually surprised me. This was partly due to the pacing of the book, which was unconventional. Cashore portioned out the novel so that an unusual amount of time was spent on specific actions. For example, a longer amount of time was spent on a scene where the main characters are preparing to face the villain, and when the face-off finally happens, it is surprisingly fast, and simple, not the usual climax. Surprisingly, the book does not suffer for this unusual pacing, rather it helps shape the tone of the book. Instead of focusing on the action of the novel, the pacing helps to shift the focus towards the ideology, characters, and relationships within the novel.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The world Cashore created felt fresh and exciting to me, and the storyline always had me guessing. I would recommend this book, with the advisory that there are some suggestive scenes that might influence some people’s decision of whether it.