Calamity (The Reckoners)
by Brandon Sanderson
Review by Drew Bittner
Delacorte Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0385743602
Date: 16 February 2016 List Price $18.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
David lost everything when the superhuman Epics appeared years ago. His father believed they were here to help the world--and he died believing that, killing by a murderous monster named Steelheart. David struggled to survive in Steelheart's Newcago, compiling notes on Epics so that he could kill them, as every single one proved to be corrupted by their power. He fell in with the Reckoners, a group aiming to liberate the world from the Epics, and learned from their leader, Prof (aka Jonathan Phaedrus). He also fell in love with Megan, a fellow Reckoner. David figured out how to kill Steelheart, gaining a crucial insight into how Epics are vulnerable.
Then he discovered that both Prof and Megan were Epics.
Struggling against his reflexive emotions, David found a way to redeem Megan from the psychopathy that afflicted the Epics, only to lose Prof to a devious stratagem. Now, he must use all that he knows to try and save Prof or, failing that, to kill him. His first step is securing advanced Epic-powered weaponry from Knighthawk, a company with amazing security. Against all odds, the team succeeds, and David even intrigues Dean Knighthawk himself. With some support from the arms manufacturer, the Reckoners begin to think they have a chance against their former leader.
The Prof--now using his Epic name Limelight--has taken over what used to be Atlanta ... and is now a mobile, roaming city that plows under everything in its wake. His grand scheme is still unknown, but it involves a minor Epic able to steal powers from others, as well as gathering a coterie of Epics with varying powers. David and his team have to infiltrate Atlanta, discover the Prof's particular vulnerability, and survive a battle with him and his henchmen long enough to use it. Easy, right?
Meanwhile, the hellish star known as Calamity--the source of Epic powers-- still hovers over the Earth, randomly imbuing ordinary people with Epic abilities. David has heard its invitation once before, to become an Epic and gain power for himself. Can he resist, or will he become what he hates the most?And what will happen when he learns what Calamity really is?
With Calamity, Brandon Sanderson concludes his Reckoners trilogy, though he doesn't shut the door on future adventures. David is a great protagonist, evolving from an angry teen into a careful, methodical but courageous leader in the course of the series. He uses his brain first, using all that he can find out to hit an enemy where they're weakest; his knowledge is a huge asset to the Reckoners.
Megan, also known as Firefight, discovers in this novel that beating your weakness once doesn't prevent a future lapse. Pushing herself harder than ever, she struggles not to revert to her former self, even as David fails to see the warning signs.
With allies like Mizzy, Cody, and Abraham on his side, David fights as hard as he can to redeem the Prof, whose callous evil grows worse as his plans are revealed. Even with help from Knighthawk, they don't have the raw power to take him down, especially when some random elements are thrown into the mix and the truth behind Calamity is revealed.
Those who really love thoughtful, action-packed superhero stories will be delighted by Sanderson's masterful take on the genre. It's an odd, intriguing but superlative mashup of superhero and post-apocalypse storytelling. Here's hoping there might be a fourth story in the future.