The premise of Steelheart really doesn't sit with what I usually like in a book and I discovered this when I tried explaining it to a non-fantasy/sci-fi reader.
"It's set on Earth, where this weird star has appeared in the sky and given some people super powers, like the ability to turn everything into steel or make it night all the time. But everyone who gets these powers are really awful people, or the powers turn them awful (we don't know yet) and so the world is being run by tyrannical super villians. The story is about a group of normal people who are trying to take down the villains, including the most powerful, Steelheart."
Not only does it sound like the corniest sci-fi trope that you could think of, it also sound suspiciously like Sanderson's previous novel, The Final Empire. Nevertheless, Sanderson's previous record of sensational writing and post-apocalyptic power struggles with the divine yet evil always has back for more.
I enjoyed Steelheart, but I would have to say it is my least favourite Sanderson novel so far. Previously this was Alloy of Law, which was only saved because it belonged to the Mistborn universe; I think I just have a beef with anything that moves into more sci-fi and modern day territory. Give me a traditional swords and sorcery fantasy any day.
The world-building and plot of Steelheart felt a lot shallower compared to previous works, due mostly of course to the relatively shorter length of the book and the fact that it was set on Earth. For the very first time in a Sanderson novel I felt myself becoming dissatisfied, or even bored halfway through. Things do get a little predictable in there.
Without giving anything away, it is the final chapters that really make up for the rest of the book, where Sanderson appears in all his shining glory to not only prove he had us fooled the whole time (as always) but to finally give us the meatiness we were craving.
Because of those final chapters alone I am now eagerly anticipating (Let's not kid ourselves, I was always going to throw any other book across the room as soon as a Sanderson appeared) to release of the sequel, Firefight, apparently in Fall 2014. But first, I want me some Words of Radiance!