Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners Review–Superhero Fiction with a Twist

In the Reckoners series, those without powers are the heroes and those with powers are the villains. Ten years before the story is set, a cosmic phenomenon known as Calamity struck, gifting certain individuals with special powers, while others remained unchanged. But these powers inevitably corrupted, creating a class of tyrannical supervillains ruling over the ordinary masses. Only the Reckoners have the gall to fight back.

Last month, I wrote about my attempt to get into superhero comics, so I guess I’m on a bit of a superhero kick. But Reckoners provides a fairly unique take on superheroes: with the powers comes a nearly irresistible tendency towards selfishness and callousness that causes the Epics (as those with powers are called) to lose all regard for human life.

steelheartThe first book in the series, Steelheart, begins in the early years after Calamity, when an eponymous Epic murders the father of a young boy named David in his brutal takeover of Chicago. Using his powers to turn everything inorganic to steel, he creates the post-apocalyptic-aesthetic of Newcago and rules it with an iron (or rather, steel) fist. David spends the next ten years planning his revenge, knowing that every Epic has one weakness no matter their powers of invincibility and that his experiences the night his father died may be the key to killing Steelheart. He joins the Reckoners, a team of rebels fighting to bring hope to the ordinary people by taking down the Epics one by one.

The female characters in this first installment are a little lacking. There’s Tia, an older woman who is the second-in-command of the Reckoners cell, the brain of the team who does not engage in combat. But mostly there’s Megan, David’s love interest who can kick-butt as well as any man (and arguably better than David can). Taciturn and mysterious, she  initially attracts David’s interest because she’s “not like other girls” and carries hidden explosives down her shirt.

firefightMegan’s role becomes more complex in the second installment, Firefight, though I can’t talk more about that without spoiling the first book. David’s feelings toward her also become slightly more mature. The best part is that we get to see a powerful female Epic overlord, Regalia, who uses her water manipulation powers to rule over the flooded city Babylon Restored, once known as New York. We also begin to see that there may be a way for Epics to fight their evil urges and maintain their humanity. With his initial quest for vengeance fulfilled and the lines between good and evil blurring, David must question his purpose and everything the Reckoners stand for.

The third book and final book in the series was released earlier this year in February and is titled Calamity. I can’t wait to see what direction this last book takes the story in!

Got thoughts on the Reckoners series or the concept of superheroes gone bad? Let me know in the comments!

~ Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge Updates ~

If you are just tuning in, check out my sign up post for the Sci-Fi Summer Reading Challenge to learn more about it.

Books in progress:

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson — Third and final book in the Reckoners series, after Steelheart and Firefight.

Books Finished:

Clockwork Fairytales: A Collection of Steampunk Fables Edited by Stephan L. Antczak and James C. Basset

Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The Young Elite by Marie Lu

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson — Devouring this series is helping me make major headway on my sci-fi challenge.

Dune by Frank Herbert — Deserves its title as a sci-fi classic and I can’t do it justice without a full review of its own.

Current Level: Viper Pilot (Finally went up a level! Will I make it to my goal? Stay tuned every other Thursday and see!)

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3 thoughts on “Brandon Sanderson’s The Reckoners Review–Superhero Fiction with a Twist

  1. I wish I had waited til I finished book 3, Calamity, to review. I really like the way David and Megan’s relationship is portrayed by that final installment. Very respectful and supportive.

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