We think of superheroes as good. They’re always shown protecting humanity, whether it be from supervillains or some other threat. But what if they were bad? They could subjugate humanity.
That is the premise behind Steelheart, which starts ten years after a star called Calamity appeared in the heavens and Epics (those with powers of some kind) were created.
It was enough of a spin on the notion to get me in the door and I wasn’t disappointed.
The story follows the exploits of David, a young man looking to join the Reckoners, the only group who tries to fight back for humanity, the only ones who kill Epics.
Like I said, great concept, which is well executed, with a range of vigilante characters. There’s a little too much box ticking in the roles (the nerd, the brawn, the — unfunny — joker, the love interest), but they’re reasonably drawn. There were also a lot of convenient elements that happen to pop up and solve a problem.
The created world is dense with ideas and backstory (understandably, this is the first in a series). Many are recognisable tropes, some are new (to me at least), but all are given a unique spin.
The true test of a story is engagement and I certainly found myself rooting for the Reckoners as they undertook their various challenges, practically cheering when they succeeded. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep me guessing though, especially around some of the key plot points.
Praise too for MacLeod Andrews, who reads the audio version, and does a stellar job, altering his voice to help being each character to life.
A good read, but not a classic, and one I was quickly able to forget (rather than immediately hunting for the sequel).