Brandon Sanderson – Calamity
Length: 420 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Superhero Sci-Fi
Started: 02 April 2016 (only the first chapter, then it had to go back to the library; I started over in mid-June.)
Finished: 22 June 2016
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? New Brandon Sanderson!
A bad guy who has
superpowers AND knows your
tactics? Bad news, folks.
Summary: The Reckoners – a group of resistance fighters dedicated to taking down the tyrannical and super-powered Epics that were created when the red star Calamity first appeared in the night sky – were lead by the Prof. Prof’s secret was that he was an Epic himself, although he managed to keep the darkness at bay. However, Regalia’s plot to turn the Prof has succeeded, meaning that David and what remains of the Reckoner team now has another immensely strong Epic to face, and one that knows all their secrets. Prof has headed from Babilar (what was once known as New York City, pre-Epics) to Atlanta (now Ildithia, a moving city made entirely of salt), to challenge the local Epic in control. The Reckoners are racing to stop him, but David’s got a secret too – his goal is not to kill the Prof, but to somehow force him to reclaim his humanity from the darkness caused by the use of his powers.
Review: While this book was, like the others in the series, a fun, fast, action-packed read, it wasn’t quite up to par with the first two books in the series, nor with Sanderson’s other work. I’m pretty convinced that the real reason that people gravitate towards the whole superheroes genre (or superpowers, I should say, since by and large the Epics are not heroes) is to see/read about/imagine fight scenes between people with various types of superpowers, and how that plays out. For example, if you have the ability to shrink yourself and/or anything you touch, how does that play out in a fight against someone who can shift dimensions? Or create forcefields? Who wins that fight? On that front, this book’s great – Sanderson’s great at writing exciting, action-packed, easily visualizable fight scenes, and this book has a number of them. Where I think this book doesn’t quite hold up is the metaphysics – the explanation for how the Epic powers and the weaknesses work and the backstory as to why it all is the way it is. Sanderson’s usually really good about piecing together magic systems that are totally unique and internally consistent and make enough sense to feel obvious even though they’re not like anything you’ve ever encountered before. And to some extent, that’s true here too. The way the Epic powers work does make sense, and it’s a different spin on superpowers than I’ve seen before. (Although it reminds me in some ways of the “Wild Cards” universe.) But the ending, and the final resolution, didn’t have the oomph that I’ve come to expect from Sanderson books. There was no Sanderson avalanche, there was no rug being pulled out from under me, it was just kind of… not predictable exactly, but maybe a little bit pat and thus ultimately not entirely satisfying. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Even a Sanderson book that’s not quite up to his usual high standard is still a Sanderson book, and thus, while this one is not my favorite, it’s still probably worth reading if you like YA action-adventure or superhero novels (especially if you’ve read the first two, of course). I think this might be a series best read fairly close together, as some of the details and characterizations fade pretty quickly with too much time in between novels.
First Line: I’ve witnessed the fearsome depths.
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