Common Sense Media says

Teens stand up to supervillains in action-packed sci-fi.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Steelheart upends the conventional superheroic 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

Steelheart focuses on what it means to act as a team and sacrifice your own agenda for a greater purpose. The novel also explores the difference between vengeance and justice.

Positive role models

David, the 18-year-old protagonist of Steelheart, is a remarkable young man: brave, resourceful, creative, and focused on destroying the being who killed his father. He discovers, however, that there are loftier goals than vengeance and that he might be better off channeling his energies in other, more constructive directions.


Filled with almost nonstop superheroics, Steelheart features a high body count that doesn't spare the innocent. As an 8-year-old, David witnesses his father's death firsthand, then grows up to be an expert hunter of the villainous Epics who rule Newcago. He and his fellow Reckoners engage their enemies with a wide range of weapons, from handguns to explosives.


David is immediately attracted to buxom and beautiful Megan, who barely puts up with his awkward flirtation. Although it never becomes physical, their relationship deepens over the course of the novel.


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

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Steelheart 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 employ made-up curses: "Calamity" or "Sparks," for example. David is attracted to and flirts awkwardly with buxom and beautiful Megan, but their relationship doesn't become physical.

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Kids say

What's the story?

When 8-year-old David Charleston witnesses his father's death at the hands of the supreme supervillain known as Steelheart, the boy vows to get his revenge. A decade later, he sees his chance to join the \"Reckoners,\" fellow humans working to depose Steelheart and the other superpowered \"Epics\" who rule over Newcago. At first, the Reckoners aren't inclined to take him seriously, but David soon wins them over with his eye for strategy and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Epics' habits and vulnerabilities. But will that be enough to bring about the downfall of Steelheart and his minions?

Is it any good?


STEELHEART upends the usual superpowers setup, presenting a world in which the bad guys have already won and there seem to be no heroes willing to stand up to them. David and his fellow Reckoners devise elaborate plans to depose Steelheart and his minions; the action scenes are vivid and full of tantalizing twists. Author Brandon Sanderson's fantasy scenario has great potential: Although this book reaches a satisfying resolution, it's clear readers will have plenty more wrinkles to explore in forthcoming volumes. Fans of X-Men and Batman will rejoice.

Families can talk 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?

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

  • What are the differences between justice and revenge? Does Steelheart make you think differently about this?

Book details

Author:Brandon Sanderson
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:September 24, 2013
Number of pages:400
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 17
Available on:Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of Steelheart was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byKeziah Kaye January 7, 2014


I LOVED this book. It's a page-turning book that is also clean.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byBooklover123m January 4, 2015

I loved this book!!!!!!!

This book is far from a normal superhero or distopian book, it has great characters, themes and a awesome well described setting, overall I loved it and will read the sequel at midnight on my kindle.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byyonsterbeast July 31, 2014
What other families should know
Too much violence


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