Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Reckoners Series: A Review

My last contribution to this blog was about my first encounter with Brandon Sanderson’s work, which occurred after I selected The Rithmatist for a meeting of MPL’s Teen Book Club. I was so enthralled by Sanderson’s writing that I binge-read three of his books last month; and after reading April’s book club selection, I began a fourth.

That’s just how I am—when I discover something new that I really enjoy, I obsess over it. For example, a couple years ago I was browsing Netflix and started a Charlie Chaplin film on a whim. Next thing I knew, I was completely fascinated by the man. I couldn’t watch his films or read his biographies fast enough. I tried to subtly persuade my husband to get me an original 1931 poster for City Lights that I found at a local antique shop for Christmas. Yes, it was expensive—I could never justify purchasing it for myself, so it had to be a gift—and, no, we didn’t have anywhere to put it, but that didn’t stop me from walking past it a hundred times, dreaming.

This time around, my obsession became Brandon Sanderson’s writing, which flows so naturally that it feels effortless. He makes writing well seem easy, which is truly the mark of a master talent. As mentioned above, I read three of his books last month—specifically, the Reckoners trilogy.

The first book in this series is Steelheart. Here, Sanderson demonstrates his masterful world-building prowess and introduces an intriguing cast of characters. Readers are transported to an alternate version of the United States, ten years after a mysterious star appears in the sky, and ordinary people begin to develop superpowers. These superhumans—who come to be known as Epics—don’t have much in common with the superheroes with whom we are familiar, however. In fact, most Epics have a decidedly evil streak, overthrowing civilization as we know it and lording over cities as kings and queens.   

The story is about David Charleston’s quest to avenge his father’s murder by the titular Steelheart, widely considered to be the most powerful Epic in existence. Ever since he was orphaned at the age of eight, David has studied Epics and the Reckoners—a clandestine group of rebel assassins. More than anything, David wishes to join their ranks. When he discovers that the Reckoners’ next target is in his hometown, he devises a way to introduce himself. They’re the only ones who can possibly help him take down Steelheart once and for all.

What follows is a fast-paced plot that is as fun as it is suspenseful. While it may be a bit too violent for some, I would recommend Steelheart to anyone who enjoys a good action movie. Sanderson’s writing is so visually expressive that I often lost myself in the imagery. To this day, I can picture certain scenes as if I saw them on the big screen.

The other books in the trilogy are also very good reads. Firefight adds to the Epic mythos, answering some questions while simultaneously introducing a greater mystery. The final book, Calamity, gives readers an unexpected and completely satisfying conclusion, which is an uncommon feat for YA dystopian series (I’m looking at you, Divergent). If you are like me and get to the end wishing for more, don’t give up hope—Sanderson stated recently that his next series will take place in the same universe as the Reckoners! 

Usually, the novelty of my obsessions wears off after a while. I find myself back where I started, more or less the same as before… until my next obsession comes along, that is. After a month of Sanderson, however, I can tell that my obsession with his writing isn’t just a phase. My next undertaking is going to be his highly acclaimed Mistborn series. I predict that I will enjoy it so much that I will feel compelled to write another blog entry about it. Only time will tell!

Have you ever enjoyed a book or series so much that you binge-read it in a short span of time? What are your literary obsessions? Let us know in the comments below!


Mentor Public Library’s Teen Book Club is open to teens in grades 9 to 12. The club meets on the first Saturday of every month, from 2:00 to 3:30 PM at our Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch. At our next meeting on May 7, 2016, we will be discussing I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Copies of selected books are available at the Lake Branch on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is requested. Call 440-257-2512 with questions.

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