Published January 2015
They told David it was impossible—that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart—invincible, immortal, unconquerable—is dead. And he died by David’s hand.Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.Babylon Restored, the old borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic, Regalia, David is sure Babylon Restored will lead him to what he needs to find. And while entering another city oppressed by a High Epic despot is a gamble, David’s willing to risk it. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David’s heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic—Firefight. And he’s willing to go on a quest darker, and more dangerous even, than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.
First and foremost: Babylon Restored was an amazing setting for this book. It was nice that we got to experience a little more of the post-Epic world, and Babylon Restored is about as different from Newcago as one can get. Imagine a New York-style-Venice, but with futuristic jungle fruit everywhere. Well, at least, that’s how I imagined it. I wouldn’t describe this world as post-apocalyptic, but the post-Epic world is a scary place. The United States is no longer, and goes by The Fractured States, entire cities have been leveled by Epics, and people live in fear of their unchecked powers.
There were also a few awesome new characters introduced! Some of the former Reckoners team from Steelheart remained behind in Newcago, while the rest of the group moved to Babylon Restored, so again Sanderson keeps his cast of characters from becoming too overwhelming. While I really loved all of the new characters that came to the scene, and their different quirks, David remains the star of this show. His greatest attribute, other than his terribly amazing metaphors that continue to make me laugh out loud, is his ability to adapt and grow. I absolutely feel like he aged in the second book compared to the first. He adjusts his views on Epics, he alters his goals to fit the reality of the situation, and he grows into his role as point man on the team. While his only flaw would be being too idealistic, especially when it comes to Firefight herself, I think that it humanizes him, and reminds the reader that he is only 19 years young.
Speaking of Firefight, I am going to fan-girl for a minute, and continue with spoilers unabashedly:
OMG I HARDCORE ‘SHIP DAVID AND MEGAN. I love their relationship, and I have all sorts of feels for him trying to protect her, and she constantly pushing him away. Is it weird that that’s endearing?
“So, uh,” I said, shuffling from one foot to the other, “want to go with me to check up on Obliteration? If you’re not doing anything else important, I mean.”
She cocked her head. “Did you just invite me on a date … to spy on a deadly Epic planning to destroy the city?”
“Well, I don’t have a lot of experience with dating, but I’ve always heard you’re supposed to pick something you know the girl will enjoy…”
She smiled. “Well, let’s get to it then.”
“You’re like a potato!” I shouted after her. “In a minefield.”
She froze in place. Then she spun on me, her face lit by a half-grown fruit. “A potato,” she said flatly. “That’s the best you can do? Seriously?”
“It makes sense,” I said. “Listen. You’re strolling through a minefield, worried about getting blown up. And then you step on something, and you think, ‘I’m dead.’ But it’s just a potato. And you’re so relieved to find something so wonderful when you expected something so awful. That’s what you are. To me.”
“Sure. French fries? Mashed potatoes? Who doesn’t like potatoes?”
“Plenty of people. Why can’t I be something sweet, like a cake?”
“Because cake wouldn’t grow in a minefield. Obviously.”
She stared down the hallway at me for a few moments, then sat on an overgrown set of roots.
Sparks. She seemed to be crying. Idiot! I thought at myself, scrambling through the foliage. Romantic. You were supposed to be romantic, you slontze! Potatoes weren’t romantic. I should have gone with a carrot.”
The finale of this book is, in one word, EPIC. I was completely taken by surprise as to how the story unfolded and where each character ended up. I love that not everything in this world is how it seems, people and surroundings included. (It is really hard to write about this book spoiler free FYI).
In conclusion, I thought this book was amazing. It totally lived up to the expectatations that I set for the series while reading/listening to Steelheart, and I cannot wait to dive into the final book now: Calamity! But I do think Sanderson has set the bar incredibly high. I really hope that in the next book we get to learn a little bit more about who/what Calamity is, and the world is tied up with as pretty as a bow as it deserves. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NO CLIFF HANGERS!
Finally, it would be unfair if again I didn’t mention to say how perfect the narrator is on the Audible version. McLeod Andrews makes these characters come to life! I was never bored with his narration, and he has such distinct voices for everyone that I could tell who was speaking without being told. Listening to this book was a fantastic experience, but BRB going to buy this UK version to add to my bookshelf for a future reread!