Steelheart Book Review

“Where there are villains, there will be heroes,” my father said. “Just wait. They will come.”

Steelheart, The Reckoners Book One, written by Brandon Sanderson, is a YA sci-fi dystopian-esque tale of revenge.  The  ravaged world is controlled by Epics, people with fantastic abilities and massive egos.  All the Epics are evil, concludes the main character, David. As a child, he barely survives an encounter with Steelheart, the Epic who eventually becomes the lord and master of Newcago, where David lives. Epics destroy and kill on a whim. When David’s father shoots Steelheart’s rival and saves Steelheart, his gracious act is repaid with violence. Steelheart kills him. David spends the next ten years plotting his revenge.

All Epics have a weakness and discovering Steelheart’s is the key to taking him down. David follows a group of rebels called The Reckoners, in the hope they will let him join them in their goal of removing evil Epics one by one. David is captured by one of The Reckoners, a pretty maiden named Megan, and they accept him into their group. David inspires them to shift their focus from destroying minor Epics to destroying the strongest Epic of all, Steelheart.

Questions arise. Are all the Epics completely evil? Or, as David’s father hoped, can they be good? Is killing Steelheart the best thing to do? What will happen to Newcago after his removal? Won’t another evil Epic just take his place, causing the cycle of violence and repression to start over? And the most important questions: What is Steelheart’s hidden weakness? How do they use it to kill him?

Everything David thinks he knows about Epics will be challenged. This fast-paced, action-packed revenge story sprinkled with bad metaphors and adolescent angst is a fun ride. It’s certainly geared toward adolescent males who are into guns, action, and all things geeky. This was my first Brandon Sanderson novel and I mostly enjoyed it, despite not fitting into the target audience mold. The ensemble of characters entertained with interesting and nerdy dialogue. David’s struggle with forming a decent metaphor throughout the book felt like an inside joke from Sanderson to other writers and made me chuckle out loud repeatedly. Sanderson’s writing style is comfortable and sufficiently detailed. The plot twists weren’t shocking. (I really should have guessed them—but that’s no fun!) I still read it to the end and am eager to start the sequel, Firefight.

“Wow,” I said. “It’s like…a banana farm for guns.”

“A banana farm,” Megan said flatly.

“Sure. You know, how bananas grow from their trees and hang down and stuff?”

“Knees, you suck at metaphors.”

Find Steelheart and Firefight on Amazon

Brandon Sanderson

Read more reviews on Brandon Sanderson on Goodreads

WRITERS, check out Brandon Sanderson’s writing podcast, Writing Excuses

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The Torment of Memory

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve—even in pain—the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

The Red Cloak, Chapter 5, The Book

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Do What’s Possible

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible,” quoted the Captain.

“Who said that?” asked Ainsling.

“Ah, St. Francis of Assissi, the patron saint of animals and nature.   When I was a child, I memorized one of his prayers, Li. You would like it.  Let me see if I can remember it all . . .”

He closed his eyes as he recited,

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

 

The Red Cloak, Chapter 7, The Necessary, the Possible, and the Impossible

Houston Authors Bash 2015 Recap

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This was my first book signing event EVER. It was fairly painless. I ordered books, mod-podged clipboards with origami paper, created sign-up sheets for my newsletter, and even ordered special candy (the White Rabbit Creamy Candies mentioned in The Baiji).
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It was fun!

I met so many like-minded crazy people (writers). And my friends came out to support me. I even sold a book to a stranger.

This is how that went down–

“Hey- YOU’RE a kid! Do you like dolphins?” (Writers no talk so good.)

There were over 100 authors at the bash. I discovered that book signings are good for networking, though I was the odd-genre out. A wide variety of genres were represented. But only three children’s authors attended. There were a decent representation of Sci-Fi folks, a gaggle of Memoirists, a flight of Fantasy scribes, an overflow of Romance writers, and a some Mystery buffs. I did discover a whole new genre, the “Multiple Personalities Paranormal” genre. You know, the vampire/werewolf or the vampire/werewolf/angel or the vampire/werewolf/zombie or the vampire/unicorn/alien stories…

The Houston Writers Guild and RT Book Reviews Magazine attended. I bought the HWG collection of sci-fi stories called Tides of Possibility. An old acquaintance from my first NaNoWriMo writing group, Mandy Broughton, is one of the contributors. She is also a contributor for the WordPress blog, Space City Scribes. Check it out!
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Some of my favorite authors at the Bash were seated close by. Sandra Biersdorfer wrote an adorable children’s book called Nana’s Banana. J. L. Clark’s beautiful covers for her YA series, The Avalon Relics, were boldly displayed on standalone banner. Author Dorothy Tinker had an embroidered quilt and an animatronic dragon to decorate with, creatively representing her YA Fantasy series. I was honored to meet these lovely and interesting authors. Dorothy Tinker will be having a book launch (and medieval costume contest) at Writespace, here in Houston on Saturday, March 7 @7pm. Check that out too!
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Mad About God Book Review

“Honesty. This is the start of healing…but life is unfair, the world is selfish, and many of us will limp to the finish line…”

J. S. Park is mad. He asks the questions we all ask, those tough questions that Christians loathe to discuss in polite circles, most of which begin with the word “why” as we choke on our tears. He boldly proposes that sometimes these age-old existential inquiries may never be answered- and that even the answers wouldn’t satisfy us.

A self-proclaimed cynic, Park is raw in his conjectures, humanizing pain and suffering, leaving no room for sentimentality or gloss. He allows pain the respect it demands. There are no pat answers to the questions pain stirs up. Park doesn’t even try to explain away or sermonize suffering. From the unfairness of cancer to the self-induced repercussions of sin, Park rounds the bases and shines light on all the variants of suffering. His conclusions? Sometimes pain just hurts and there is no good reason. And sometimes the questions raised by pain force us to discover who we are and what we really believe. And, most importantly…

…pain forces us to search for a light in the darkness. We search for someone who desires to fight the dragons alongside us, not merely a rescuer, but a redeemer. Pastor Park suggests there is someone who fills that position perfectly- Jesus. Pain may not always have a purpose, but we never need to suffer alone. Jesus, our volunteer companion, isn’t ignorant to our plight. He dove headfirst into the human condition and suffered as one of us. Suffered to death.

God is mad too. In “Mad About God,” Park asks us to consider joining forces and be mad WITH God, to raise our voices to shout against the dark.

“What are we holding onto Sam?”
“That there’s some good in this world, Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

“Mad About God” is a must-read for anyone searching for a light in the darkness, for those who demand honesty, and for humans in general.

Other books by J.S.Park-

What The Church Won’t Talk About: Real Questions From Real People About Raw, Gritty, Everyday Faith

The Christianese Dating Culture: On Courtship, Purity Rings, Prayer-Sex, and Other Weird Things We Do In Church

J.S. Park’s Blog

Find J. S. Park on Facebook