Story summary: Superheroes have begun to appear on Earth, but unlike your standard superhero story, every single one of them is cruel and twisted. A group of normal humans make it their mission to kill these hugely powerful people and free the earth of their evil. Starting with Steelheart, one of the most powerful of them all.
- The twist where all superheros are evil is quite interesting, and makes for a different feel than is usually found in superhero books.
- The writing is gripping and immensely entertaining. This is one of those read-in-a-day books.
- There are lots of twists and mysteries that are solved in a pleasantly structured and rational way. Yay for excellent plotting!
- The characters, though fun, are not the most complex.
- Anything else I could think of as a criticism is something that is likely to be explained/fixed/discussed in the sequels.
As with the first of his books I read, The Rithmatist, the rational, investigative aspect was my favourite. As an example, in most books the Epic who was able to shoot endless bullets would either have a really bad scientific explanation or not be explained at all (you have to just accept that spider bites make you shoot webs out of your wrist and cosmic rays turn you into a rock monster). In this book, however, it actually pointed out that it was completely unscientific, and this caused the characters to speculate as to what is actually going on. It looks like this lack of scientific explanation may play into the reveals in the sequels. This seems like a little thing, but it was so refreshing to see, and makes me far, far more eager to read more in the series. Now there's the chance I'll actually get a reasonable explanation, which would be so cool.
And yet, this analysis and rationality all takes place in a story that's not at all dry. It feels just like a normal superhero story in tone and excitement. What could be more fun than that? I'm really surprised Sanderson isn't more well-loved.
His strength is definitely his world-building and gripping plot, though. I was a bit more meh on the characters this time around (especially Meg). Not that they distracted from my enjoyment of the book--they seemed rather like a group of movie protagonists, sketched out and amusing, and perfectly suitable for the story and medium, but not exactly subtly complex. Some of the characters did have potential, however, even though they weren't focused on much. Abraham was probably my favourite character (he was Canadian! that always helps), and I liked Tia and Prof quite a bit too. David, the main character, had some similarities to Joel from The Rithmatist in that I didn't find his character particularly interesting except that he was clever and inquisitive and analytical in a way that many heroes aren't. He keeps these incredibly detailed files on the Epics and investigates them to find patterns and figure out what's actually going on. And that fact I appreciated quite a bit.
Man, I can't wait to read all the rest of his books. I haven't found a writer this entertaining in.... well, a very long time.