My first review simply must be a YA book by my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson. I have listened to a podcast by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinnett Kowal, and Howard Taylor for the last 6 years or so. The podcast is called Writing Excuses and is about the craft of writing well and the business of writing. They are wonderful teachers of the craft in addition to being fabulous authors. Sanderson has won many awards for his writing and is a New York Times Best Selling Author.
By Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA Fantasy
This near future story begins 10 years after an event in which some people developed a superpower such as the ability to turn things into steel or the ability to create electricity. These people were dubbed Epics. The problem is that instead of helping people with their new powers, they destroy and take over cities. David is a boy whose father was killed by an Epic. He is determined to get revenge, but to do that he needs information and help. He seeks that help from the Reckoners, a competent team of people who are trying to help as best they can against these super-humans.
The story is filled with action. David is an endearing character. He is bad at metaphors which makes for some comical scenes. David gathers information, becoming like a kid obsessed with Pokemon and learns a myriad facts about hundreds of Epics. I’ve known many kids who gather knowledge on a particular topic of obsession that will relate to David. Of course I…[cough]… don’t obsess over books or anything. Perhaps that is why I love this character so much. The plot is fast paced and hard to put down. The themes are about helping those who can’t help themselves.
This is the first book in a trilogy called The Reckoners. There are no cuss words in the entire series. Sanderson uses substitute swear words. For example, a character might say “Oh, Calamity! What now?” They substitute for mild swear words, not strong ones, in this series. There is violence but nothing excessive or graphic. There is nothing in his YA books that would give me pause when I’m recommending this book. Because he is Mormon, even his adult books are clean and don’t contain anything inappropriate.
Steelheart is a challenging book for preteens. The vocabulary and plot complexity make it a challenge for most 6th graders and some 7th graders. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any student up to the challenge. Some students might not be completely up to the challenge, but I won’t stop them from trying. They’ll get some of it and feel good that they can talk to friends about this challenging book, even if they don’t understand all the nuance. Plus the exposure to this advanced vocabulary will help them be a little more familiar and comfortable with those words when they see them again later in another book.