Bibliographic Data:

Sanderson, Brandon. (2013). Steelheart. New York: Delacorte Press. Print.

Book Summary:

Life is forever changed when David watched as the powerful Epic, Steelheart, brutally murder his father.  Now living as an orphan, David devotes his life to enacting revenge for his father’s death. His one and only focus in life is to kill Steelheart.  However, due to the super-hero like qualities possessed by all Epics, revenge will only be possible with help from the Reckoners, an underground group fighting to take down the brutal tyrants one Epic at a time.  For years David has been investigating the Epics and taking fastidious notes.  These notes, paired with the Reckoner’s extensive training and experience are the only hope for revenge and the death of Steelheart.   However, with little time to prepare, will David and the Reckoners be able to kill the most powerful Epic and his top advisors? Will the team be able to find out Steelheart’s one weakness or will the always-watching surveillance of Steelheart and his men be able to thwart their plans.

Critical Analysis:

Appealing to more than fantasy fiction fans, Sanderson has brilliantly crafted an action packed novel that will leave the reader wanting more. Don’t be fooled to think this novel is another long and dry fantasy novel. The original plot of this novel brings twists and turns on every page.  Sanderson expertly leaves the reader guessing if those fighting for the good of humankind will be able to conquer the power hungry Epics.  Sanderson has created a main character, David, to whom all young adults today can relate.  Born an orphan, David, love me many of today’s teens, feels a that he doesn’t belong. With no guidance from a loving family, he seeks desperately to find his place in this world.  Not only that, young adults will easily relate to the struggle of an underdog living under oppressive decision-makers.  Gamers will find this novel appealing for the intense confrontations between Epics who battle for complete power and Reckoners who fight for the betterment of humankind.  Although the history of how the Epics took over the world is hardly addressed, Sanderson has left the door open to future novels revealing the Epics’ vault to power.  The characterization is deeply detailed leaving the reader to anticipate future stories that will include more quests and battles between the Reckoners and other Epics.  Parents should be aware that although the characters do curse, they use a fictionalized language that expresses their emotions without offending readers and parents alike. The story also includes violent fight scenes, but the description is appropriate for young adults, not one bit gratuitous.  The first in a long series, Steelheart has laid a strong foundation on which to build many excellent novels.  Because of its action and fantasy mash up, this novel will remain a favorite for many years to come.

Activity Related to the Book:

What’s My Style? Become an Investigator Contest

David took fastidious notes.  Just like the main character of Steelheart, students will be challenged to use their best investigation skills. For one week, students stealthily take notes over the wardrobe of their favorite teachers.  Students may use pencil and paper or may create an online journal using a Web 2.0 tool. For several days, students will observe their teachers and note what they are wearing.  At the end of the week-long competition, students must submit a complete notebook with a final style analysis naming the specific style of the observed teacher.  Winners will be awarded on note-taking ability, diligence and creativity.

Resources Related to the THEME of the book

Resource 1: Chicago Top Attractions Map

(n.d.) Chicago Top Attractions Map. Retrieved from:

Steelheart is set in the city of Newcago, a futuristic version of the city of Chicago.  Students will note important landmarks mentioned in the city such as the lake and Soldier field.  A simple map of Chicago will provide students with a better mental pictures of the places David traveled in this fictionalized city.

Resource 2: Oliver Twist

Dickens, Charles, (2008). Oliver Twist. London: Puffin. Print.

David was an orphan from the time he was eight years old. He had to learn to survive school by gingerly walking a fine line between appearing not overly intelligent and not supremely ignorant.  Life as an orphan was also rough among his peers. Violence was a regular occurrence.  Oliver Twist is a classic piece of literature with an orphan as the main character. Set in the past, readers will be able to compare and contrast the hardships suffered by both David and Oliver.

Published Review:

(2013). Steelheart. Retrieved from:


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