Top critical review
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NO SWEARING IS BETTER THAN FAKE SWEARING
on 17 November 2013
I needed to put on my thinking slippers before I reviewed this book. My thinking slippers (fluffy, pink, with a dusky-rose bow and memory foam sole) allow me clearer reasoning of complex feelings and issues. I often don them when deciding pizza versus curry, long skirt versus short, and whether or not I like a book.
I read Steelheart because someone said it was great, another person did Puppy Eyes at me, and it's about superpowers. I'm a big comics person, so the superpower theme is right up my Crime Alley. So I think I came to Steelheart with a certain expectation. An expectation that was heightened by the most incredible prologue I have ever read. Writers, don't know how to write a prologue? Write it like that. Breathtaking. Faultless. Enviable. It got my heart pounding and made me want to run into the street to stop the rush hour traffic with a dramatic reading.
I wish the rest of the book had been so perfect. So here it is, my list of complaints, delivered quickly because I hate being mean. "Sparks, Calamity, Slontze" - the obsessive repeating of these words as slang swearing was irritating, confusing and tiresome. Stop it. PLEASE don't use this technique for swearing in a YA book. Even if the characters had used the actual F-word, it would have been annoying. People who swear that much just are. One big impact use of the actual F-word is better than twenty uses of a fake swear. Yes, Battlestar Gallactica did it, but they were the fracking exception.
Next, the Scottish jokes that appeared ALL THE WAY THROUGH. It really got up my bagpipe. Cody was not a funny character. The Scottish thing just made him weird - back-slowly-away-weird. And David's bad metaphors? Again, the repetition made it irritating and in the end I began to wonder if it was the author himself who couldn't muster up a decent metaphor. I don't think Sanderson does humour well. As a writer and lover of humour, I take my custard pies very seriously. Sanderson is a good writer, but his talents aren't in the funny department.
Lastly, I didn't think David was developed well enough. He seemed rather flat and I struggled to believe that he existed anywhere but on those pages. But guess who I did love? STEELHEART. There was something about him in the prologue that made me want to know much much more, and the fact that he barely appears in the book is probably the reason I've just childishly picked holes in it. That's why the book didn't work for me. I didn't want to read about the ragtag group of rebels. I wanted the supervillians, the Epics. They were the interesting characters, not the weirdo Scottish wannabe and the boy avenger. I wanted to be where the real action was - right by Steelheart's side.
Saying all that, it was still good, with interesting ideas. I enjoyed it, despite all the whining I've just done. It is well written and has lots of action and plot twists. It was a good story and I loved that it was from a male POV with the romance kept to a minimum. It was a good book. It just wasn't the book I was hoping for.