Book’em Nerdo: The Reckoners
If you saw that I already did a dream casting for the first book, you probably have an idea that I like this series quite well. However, I still wanted to do a full review on the series, especially since I hadn’t finished the last book, Calamity, when I was doing the dream casting. So let’s jump further into the series and talk some about it.
The Reckoners is a book series about normal people in a super powered world. Those with super powers, known as Epics, are all bad. They want power, they want to rule the world, and most of the time, they do that quite successfully because, a lot of them have what are known as “prime invinsibilities”. By that, it means that they are nearly impossible to kill, because either they heal quickly, or they are impervious to damage, or generally can avoid damage. These are the ones that rule, but they often have lesser epics under them. The Reckoners are normal people who are trying to stop the Epics and weaken their grip on society. David, the main character, however, is just a teenager who wants to kill one main epic, Steelheart, because Steelheart killed his father. He’s also not a Reckoner, just obsessed with them and with epics. He’s looking to find his way into the Reckoners, which, since the series is called The Reckoners, happens. Now, can they take down Steelheart and change the world?
I really like the concept of this series. A lot of the time you have a situation where it’s a hero and a normal sidekick, or hero versus super villain, but there are almost always super heroes. In this case, everyone is bad who has powers. The main reason that they don’t kill off each other constantly is because they still have some self preservation and because they want to rule. So, the Epics use each other to get places of power in the world as it exists now.
Another piece that is interesting is that all the epics have a weakness, or that’s assumed anyways. So there is something you can do, or something that can trigger an epic’s powers to fail or falter. As you’d imagine, especially the “high epics” with “prime invinsibilities” like to keep those hidden as they are impossible to kill otherwise. This keeps the battles different, because the Reckoners when fighting the Epics have to figure out these weaknesses. It means that a whole lot more thinking has to be put into what they are doing, and a whole lot more planning. As compared to a lot of Marvel or DC comic books, that focus in on fighting and maybe some in the super teams, the Reckoners spend a lot of time in the world.
Beyond the epics in the world, the cities in the world are fascinating. The various epics rule the cities, but often have changed the cities to what they want or because of their powers for some reason or another. In Steelheart, he’s turned Chicago into a city of steel, including some of Lake Michigan. There’s also an epic in Newcago (as Chicago is now called) who keeps the city in darkness. Other epics have made Atlanta into a city of salt that is constantly moving and rebuilding itself. And yet another epic has raised the water level of New York City so that only the tops of sky scrapers are sticking out of the water, but the water slopes up towards the city, so it isn’t like the coast is flooded as well. This gives the various books in the series their own unique feel, and makes me want to know what more of the cities are like.
That’s a lot about the world, and not so much about the characters. I’ve mentioned David whom we following around as the main character, and we get the books from his perspective. I also haven’t mentioned the author, Brandon Sanderson, who does a good job of creating not only the world but also interesting characters. David, Megan, Tia, Abraham, Cody, and Prof, the main Reckoners who you will meet at the start of the book, make interesting characters, and it’s a well balanced team. Sanderson does a good job of giving them all their own personalities, foibles, and ticks for dealing with this new world of super villains. It would be pretty easy to get kind of card board characters surrounding the main character and his love interest, but everyone has their own developed personalities, and their own moments to shine in the books. And the characters and world both feel more developed than a lot of YA (young adult) books do. I suspect that is because of Sanderson’s epic fantasy books that he turns out with massive worlds and many tied together characters that are all extremely important. Not saying that other writers of YA don’t do that, but Sanderson maybe does it more so.
Now, like I said, since I was dream casting this series, it definitely is one that I enjoyed. I don’t think that it’s without it’s weaknesses though. There are times where the story just feels like it doesn’t deliver as much as it could have. It almost plays it a little be safe at times in odd ways. Not like it detracts much from the story, it just doesn’t feel as big as it could be and as big as other Brandon Sanderson works. I think some of that is the target audience, but I also think it’s more so because he was trying to tell a simpler more straight forward story than a lot of his other works as well. The start of the second book, Firefight, is also a bit slow as well, and you kind of get an idea of how the whole book is going to work. There’s also a bit of a feel that the second book, falling to the classic trilogy flaw, is more of a bridge to the third book and setting up things for that than I’d prefer to see. Whereas the first book stands strong on it’s own and could have been a stand alone book easily and the final one Calamity wraps up the story that was set in the second book.
Overall, the books and story is definitely worth checking out. It does a number of unique things and it’s well written. Like I said, it’s one of the first super power stories that I’ve read, and while I only have one to compare it against, The Reckoners is easily better than it (I don’t remember the name, clearly it was so great). It’s also a series that I wouldn’t have any issue having kids read. I would say that kids as young as 13-14 could read and still enjoy a lot, possibly even a little bit younger. However, I’m a terrible judge at this sort of thing, so maybe read them before a kid reads them. There’s some super powered violence, but nothing is to violent and while there is romance, nothing is explicit about it, it’s just standard YA sort of writing on both accounts.
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