Calamity: The Reckoners, Book 3

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Calamity: The Reckoners, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Explosive finale for action-packed superhero saga.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Calamity upends the conventional superhero setup, asking what would happen if people who gained phenomenal powers used them only for evil. Although focused on fantasy action, the novel also promotes discussion of what it means to be a hero.

Positive Messages

Only by facing our fears do we have any hope of growth. People are capable of fighting the darkness within them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

David, the 18-year-old protagonist, is a remarkable young man -- brave, resourceful, creative, and focused on rehabilitating his friend and mentor. He is willing to sacrifice himself to save humanity from destruction by the Epics.

Violence

Filled with almost nonstop superheroics, Calamity features a high body count that doesn't spare the innocent. David and the Reckoners battle the malevolent Epics using all kinds of weapons, from handguns to explosives. Thanks to their superpowers and advanced technologies, however, many of the Epics are near immortal. In general, the mayhem is not graphic and not likely to upset sensitive readers.

Sex

David and Megan's relationship as boyfriend and girlfriend deepens over the course of the novel. They flirt, kiss, and cuddle.

Language

Although there are a half dozen instances each of "hell" and "damn" and one of "bastard," the characters more often use made-up swear words, such as "sparks," "calamity," and "slontze."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Calamity is the final volume of the Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson, begun with Steelheart. It is a fast-moving, action-packed, clever take on superheroics, set at a time after supervillains have taken over the world. The body count runs fairly high as David and the Reckoners use everything from handguns to explosives against their enemies. "Damn" and "hell" appear a few times each, but the characters mostly use made-up curses: "calamity" or "sparks," for example. David and his girlfriend Megan flirt and kiss, but their relationship does not progress far physically.

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What's the story?

At the start of CALAMITY, David Charleston's friend and mentor, Prof, has just been turned into his most dangerous enemy. David knows that, if humanity has any hope of survival, Prof must be defeated and rehabilitated. But how can someone reason with an Epic driven mad by his superpowers? David and the other Reckoners try every tactic imaginable to take the upper hand, but their strategies are foiled at every turn. Meanwhile, David's girlfriend Megan worries that she'll be seduced by the darkness, as well.

Is it any good?

Superhero action usually works best with a combination of words and pictures, but this near-future thriller succeeds with vivid prose alone. Having raised the narrative stakes across three volumes, author Brandon Sanderson delivers on his promises in Calamity. The suspense rarely flags, with David and his crew facing complications, reversals, and setbacks as they attempt to save the world and redeem themselves and their former mentor.

There's plenty of amusing banter and deftly handled character work, not to mention surprises galore. Sanderson nails the ending, providing satisfying psychological closure amid the superhero mayhem.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why superheroes have been popular for so long. What is it about them that captures the imagination of readers, moviegoers, and gamers?

  • There's a lot of violence and mayhem in Calamity, but it's not graphic and it involves characters with superpowers. Does that minimize the impact?

  • How do you define heroism? What are the characteristics of a hero?

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