Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Series Review: The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson

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. (Steelheart description taken from Goodreads)

Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoner’s trilogy about superheroes (and the terrible consequences of superpowers) is fun, fast-paced, and hilarious. I first read Steelheart when I was stuck in an airport for several hours and needed something to read. I managed to find an autographed copy in an airport bookstore (Thanks, Brandon) and read the entire thing before the plane showed up. It was a nice way to spend the day and immediately got me interested in finishing the series, which I did when a Sanderson-obsessed friend lent me the next two books. While this is not my favorite Sanderson series, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it for YA readers.
And now, for some pros and cons:

  • UNIQUE AND ENGAGING STORY - There aren’t a lot of superhero books that aren’t comics (at least, not that I’ve seen) and this series has an interesting take on superheroes - what makes someone with superpowers good or evil? How did they get their powers? What are the consequences of living in a society where a handful of people have superpowers? Sanderson addresses all these questions and gives a superhero-infested world a more realistic and dark mood. Especially interesting (to me, at least) is that the story follows a group of individuals who are not super, but who actively oppose the superheroes. This is something that we, as consumers of superhero franchises, have been conditioned not to expect. Stories are usually told from the superheroes’ points of view, right? Not in this case. And this unique perspective gives the reader a much-appreciated break from normal superhero lore and storytelling.
  • HILARIOUSLY TERRIBLE METAPHORS - This is honestly one of my favorite parts of the series. David, the main character, is awful at metaphors.
But even a ninety-year-old blind priest would stop and stare at this woman. If he weren’t blind, that is. Dumb metaphor, I thought. I’ll have to work on that one. I have trouble with metaphors.
He certainly does. And that’s not even the best awful metaphor Sanderson gives us. Here are a few more to whet your appetite:
He was right. I was letting myself get distracted, like a rabbit doing math problems instead of looking for foxes.
They looked so dangerous, like alligators. Really fast alligators wearing black. Ninja alligators.
It would be like finding out that you'd drawn lots for dessert at the Factory and been only one number off, only it didn't matter because Pete already snuck in to steal the dessert, so nobody was going to get any anyway - not even Pete, because it turns out there had never been any dessert to begin with.
  • CLASSIC SANDERSON TWIST ENDINGS - My favorite thing about reading a Sanderson book is that I can never be sure how it’s going to end. He’s a master at making you think one thing is going to happen and then going in a completely unexpected direction (that, in hindsight, actually makes a lot of sense and seems obvious upon a reread). This series was no exception. There are enough twists to keep things interesting and fun without giving the reader whiplash.

  • MEH CHARACTERS - I really didn’t connect with any of the characters in this series and I wasn’t that bothered by any character deaths, honestly. Prof was probably the most interesting character and even he was kind of dull and kind of a stereotype. I attribute this partly to this being a YA series (which aren’t exactly known for their insane character development).
  • A LITTLE CONVOLUTED - I’m a fast reader, meaning that sometimes, I skim books and miss important details. For most books, this isn’t a problem. For this series, it was a huge issue. I had to read far more carefully or I’d miss important details or new characters or the reasons for things happening or excellently bad metaphors. By the end of the series, there was so much information and conflict to keep track of that I was ready for it to be done and far less invested in the final book that I had been in the early books. This can be a pro if you’re someone who enjoys complex plots and lots of characters and drama, but for me, it was a bit much.

Have you read this series? What did you think of it? Who would you recommend this series to?

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