Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Review: Calamity by Brandon Sanderson


Author: Brandon Sanderson
Release: February 16th 2016
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, Paranormal, YA
#3 in the Reckoners trilogy
Series: Steelheart (#1), Firefight (#2)


When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when the Reckoners’ leader struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back…

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.


Calamity, for me, is a really tough book to review. It was peppered with Sanderson's brilliant storytelling as well as his wonderful, intriguing characters, but the execution behind the whole premise of this last installment went south somewhere throughout it. 

For one thing, the novel offers very little to no progress on the achieving something front, even though it is full to bursting with action scenes, with plots and plans, with the Reckoners tackling an opponent or an obstacle or whatever have you. Yet, despite they're constantly on the move and doing stuff, it never feels like they're accomplishing anything. 70% through the book and the only things to have happened are deaths, failures, bringing out the collapses of a lot of buildings and wasting a huge load of ammunition, with them being nowhere nearer towards their goal. While yes, of course I understand that they can't always win every battle, it was still extremely frustrating watching them stumble around blindly like that. 

Then there are the characters, which I still really like, yet Sanderson refuses to delve much deeper into their characterizations anymore. We get like one tiny scene with Abraham where we learn that he was indeed a member of the Canadian Special Forces, yet nothing more, nothing about his motivations or why he even is a Reckoner in the first place. I don't really remember much about Mizzy from Firefight to be totally honest and I can't say I've gotten to know anything about her in this novel, either. There was nothing new to her character, to say the least. And the list goes on...

I did like the new characters, such as Knighthawk. He was another comedic relief (besides David and his ridiculous metaphors, obviously) and I thought he was a well written character, although I have to say that the development of his character is more or less stagnant as well. I can't say that he develops noticeably over the course of the book, and there are shallow glimpses we get into his past and his personality, but they are fleeting. Still, there was something about him that added a new richness to the story, which I appreciated.
Then there was Larcener, who seemed like he posed a really interesting character at first, but sadly, he was never a truly important figure. He barely got any screen time and barely had any dialogue, and seeing how big of a role he ultimately ended up playing, I really wish we had gotten way more intel on him throughout the book.  Such a shame.

And in that, I was also really underwhelmed with the final climax and the final plot twist. It came so totally unexpected that I was left to wonder if that's really all there is to it, and the reveal answered so little questions, it didn't do anything to satisfy my need for things to be tied up neatly. Having finished the trilogy, there's still so little about it all that actually makes sense, and that's really aggravating. I waited three books to get my answers, but was cheated out of them with cheap, vague half-answers that didn't explain anything. I am mad

What else? Ah, yes, the writing. I loved the banter and dialogue between the Reckoners, although the romance between Megan and David did manage to make me cringe nonetheless, since it is very cheesy and dramatic at times. Sanderson is nothing if not a brilliant action scene writer, yet with the sheer quantity of them, they were simply too long a lot of the time. Like, a fight would go on for pages and pages and I had to skim some paragraphs because after a while I just couldn't care anymore about who destroyed whose forcefield with their superpowers and so on. It dragged, which I also pin on the above mentioned fact that there never seems to be any progress. Other than that, I loved the writing, as expected.

All in all, I can't say I'm supremely satisfied and content with the way things were wrapped up. Did I enjoy this book? Yes, of course. Did I enjoy the story and plot? I'm not totally sure about that, though. There were simply too many loose ends and too many plot holes that don't make any sense at all to overlook them. As such, I have to say that this is probably the weakest of the three. 

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