Tuesday, April 22, 2014


What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Steelheart (Delacorte, 2013).

What a dreary book this is. Yet another in the endless line of barely different dystopian fantasy novels for middle and high school students, this one's about a sixteen year-old who has to save the planet from the supervillains, here termed "Epics," who have destroyed America.

Things were looking bad for the tiny blue planet a decade ago, and then things got worse. Our hero's father succeeded in wounding one of the most powerful villains, an otherwise indestructible thug called Steelheart, and he retaliated by killing anybody who might have witnessed it before going on to wipe out the government and install himself as the emperor of what used to be Chicago. Steelheart didn't know that the then six year-old son was there and escaped the carnage; he's spent the last ten years learning everything he can about the small army of villains, hoping to meet the guerrilla force of rebels who've had limited success killing the low-powered members of their number.

It's bleak but it's also remarkably boring. More than half could have been carved out with no ill effects on this book, though I concede that publishers really only seem to want these things in threes, at least, and so it's possible that much of the long game leading up to a final confrontation with Steelheart might be setting up events for David and the supporting cast in subsequent stories. What is here, however, is just plain dull, a longwinded take on a premise that was done better in The Ten-Seconders for 2000 AD. To be honest, I got a little fed up with that as well. Not recommended.

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