Brandon Sanderson released his last book in the Reckoner’s Trilogy this week. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy (after a looooong wait, but while waiting I got to poke through Winter Soldier comics in the graphic novel section, so that was okay) and read it.
Some ten years ago, various people suddenly became superpowered. They all ended up as supervillains. Since at that point they acted more like a force of nature than anything else, they then proceeded to destroy the basic infrastructure of society and kill a lot of the still-normal people. Now they’re in charge of everything, when they aren’t fighting each other.
Most of the normal people just try to live their own lives despite all that. Others end up working for the supervillains, who are called Epics. Then there are the few who study Epics, figure out weaknesses, and kill them.
That’s the basic situation when the series starts out. Things are a bit more complicated by the time we reach Calamity, naturally.
The series as a whole is great, raising questions about free will, redemption, what it actually means to be a person, and why fighting to make the world a nicer place is worth all the trouble. The handful of regular people who believe that someday there will be good Epics are a pretty good example of humanity’s incredible capacity for hope.
Speaking of that handful of hopeful people, know how they identify themselves? They wear a pendant shaped like a “stylized S”.
As for Calamity itself (the book, not the thing in the book), the story is great. It wraps up those questions the series brings up, ties up the plot with some surprising twists (which leave a couple new questions unanswered, because there’s always another secret), and keeps the characters growing and developing without changing them to the point of being unrecognizable. It also takes us to the International Space station and plays with multiverse theory, because why not? Science is cool.
The characters are flawed people, but they generally try to do the “right thing,” however they happen to define that. Which is cool. In recent years, villains and anti-heroes have become more and more popular in all kinds of fiction, and the extra dimensions they can add to a story means that the popularity makes some sort of sense. But it’s refreshing to get a story with heroes who are actually heroic (or reformed from being unheroic) rather than being expected to support protagonists whose morality is ambiguous at best. There’s still layers and complexity to the characters, they still have questions and make mistakes, but they are actually trying to do good things and I like that.
Besides, no anti-hero would come up with as many hilariously terrible metaphors as David Charleston does.
I can’t say much else about the story without rambling forever, so I’ll wrap up here. Just read the series. Even if you don’t like YA fiction. It’s good, it’s amusing, and it will make you feel better about the state of the universe. What’s not to love?