Because it’s been nearly a month since I finished this book (yay, backlogs!) and because the blurb does a good job of summing up the story, I’m going to resort to Goodreads:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came a desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart – the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David has been studying, and planning – and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
The book starts shortly after the appearance of Calamity, when Epics are still are a new thing. David and his father are at a bank, trying to get a loan, when a minor epic attacks, starting to kill patrons and guards, mainly because he can. David’s father still believes some of the Epics will take on the roles of superheroes, so when Steelheart arrives and stops the murdering, bank-robbing Epic, he is initially relieved. Until it turns out Steelheart is just there to enforce his new claim on Chicago and wipe out any rival claims. David’s father is killed in the ensuing confrontation, and Steelheart makes sure to wipe out anyone who may have witnessed the fact that he was grazed by a bullet and actually injured. David manages to escape though, and realises what a big deal the seemingly minor injury is, when Steelheart doesn’t just sink the bank into the ground, but kills any survivors or even rescue workers responding to the crisis.
About a decade later, Chicago is Newcago, a city turned entirely to steel by Steelheart. It ruled by a merciless and seemingly invulnerable Steelheart and his closest advisers, Nightwielder, who keeps the city in constant darkness (no sunlight ever); Conflux, who runs the security forces and provides power to the city, as well as the mysterious Firefight. There are minor Epics who help his reign of terror. Most people live in the steel catacombs under the city and keep their noses to the ground. Any attempts at civil disobedience is crushed by Conflux’s efficient enforcers.
David is nearly eighteen, and has devoted spare moment of his life since his father died to researching various Epics, trying to ascertain their unique weaknesses (despite their sometimes astounding powers, all Epics also have one or two fatal weaknesses). He has also been tracking rogue resistance group the Reckoners, who are currently in Newcago. David wants to join their ranks and he wants them to stop just targeting minor Epics, which doesn’t actually have that much effect. He wants revenge on Steelheart, and there is no way he’s going achieve it on his own.
The gang of Reckoners that David meets, a small cell consisting of the Professor, research whizz Tia, muscle Cody and Abraham and point woman Megan, are initially reluctant to let him join their ranks, even when he proves his bravery while helping them on a mission. Once Tia sees his many notebooks with years worth of research on the various Epics, she warms to him and despite Megan’s distrust, David is recruited into the gang. David has a massive crush on Megan, and can’t entirely understand why she’s so hostile towards him. Eventually, he figures out that she’s worried about the consequences to the people of Newcago if the Reckoners and David actually successfully take out Steelheart. The power vacuum that would be created could lead to complete chaos. Maybe the evil they know is better than the chaos they don’t?
Full review here.