Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Review: CALAMITY by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

The story starts off mid-action that immediately pulls you back into the world of the Reckoners and all their crazy shenanigans. The action is nearly non-stop in this book, fight scene after fight scene that kept me on the edge of my seat. Up to a certain point. . . .

I actually struggled a lot with this book. Unfortunately, this series went downhill for me after Firefight, which I thought was the strongest of the trilogy. Calamity just wasn’t as enjoyable to read, and it did suffer from some cliche and predictable moments. Not that I guessed what the plot points would be, but more along the lines of “oh of course this device broke right at this time” or “of course this character is actually a bad guy” or “of course the very detailed plan won’t work out as planned,” that kind of thing.

The Epic powers also started to feel very contrived. Grant an Epic any power you wish to write off something in the story. Obviously, the team was able to do this thing because this Epic had these powers we’ve never heard of before. I accepted this during the first two books but I’m just tired of this scenario repeating itself now in the third book.

I’m so disappointed because Sanderson managed to pull it together in Steelheart and Firefight, even when I was nervous it wouldn’t work, but unfortunately not in Calamity. The whole book frustrated me.

There were still some good things about the story, I didn’t hate it but was more just disappointed with it. David’s jokes are still terrible but still entertaining, and the humor is prevalent throughout the book, which is always nice to see. Also, the setting was, once again, different and interesting.

Although the city of Ildithia was very unique in its construction, I just didn’t like it. It was gritty (literally) and dark and the image of it in my mind was all grey (compared to the city of Babilar in Firefight which was vibrant and colorful and sounded like a much more enjoyable place to live). I’ll give it up to Sanderson for always creating a unique setting, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a setting I want to read about.

Megan was one of my favorite characters during the first two books, but I didn’t really care for her during this book. Her Epic ability made it feel like such a cop-out when she would use it because she could basically get the team out of any bad situation by using her powers, and David exploited her so much.

And Prof, who I used to love, ended up becoming one of my least favorite characters in this book, and not only because of what happened to him at the end of Firefight but also because of how he acted afterward. I just don’t like him anymore.

I did find a new character I liked in Knighthawk though, and that was unexpected, but he was pretty cool. Although I have to be honest—and this is a problem throughout the whole series—but I feel distanced from all the characters. I don’t feel like I know any of them very well at this point, which is a problem, seeing as it’s the third book in the trilogy. I should be familiar with all the characters by now, but I still don’t feel like I’d be able to pick out their moves or statements or motivations. I’ve felt detached from them since the beginning.

The story itself up until they entered Ildithia was decent and I didn’t really have any problems with it, but the book started going downhill from there, at around the halfway point. I didn’t like being in Ildithia and I didn’t like anything that happened in Ildithia.

And then the ending. Excuse me—that ending! It made no sense. It was unrealistic and I had to suspend my belief too much, even for this series. I didn’t like it.

I’m a huge Sanderson fan and I’ll read anything he’s ever written, but this is my least favorite book of his. I think the overall concept of Epics and the Reckoners is pretty cool, and the first two books were good, but this last installment didn’t do it for me, sadly.

I would still love to see these books made into movies someday, despite my not liking how the final book ended. The amount of action and cool technology would make for a pretty sweet film, plus hopefully they’d be able to explain some details better visually than we got through words only.

Even though the ending did wrap up into a nice conclusion, I’m still left with quite a few questions. I’m going to get into SPOILERS AHEAD so I can vent some of my feelings.

First, I mentioned earlier how it felt like Megan’s abilities were a cop-out. For example, she could reload a gun with the snap of her fingers or resurrect herself or pull someone through another dimension who was exactly who they needed at this second, and it had me rolling my eyes because of course Megan jumped in to save the day with her powers. It made me frustrated.

Also, the harmsway doesn’t affect Megan in book one but completely heals her in book three? It’s unlike Sanderson to leave a plot hole like this in his books so I’m guessing the explanation for this was there but I just missed it.

Speaking about plot holes though, Stormwind died, who provided the food for the whole city, so it was mentioned that a famine was on the horizon for Ildithia, yet this was never brought up again. Did I miss something?

And then the whole scene where the Reckoners prepare to infiltrate Sharp Tower to rescue Tia and make Prof face his fears felt so useless to me because of how it ended. Tia died and they made Prof angrier and they essentially failed their mission, and to me I just felt like I had wasted the last one hundred pages of reading. I know they figured out valuable information still, but I just couldn’t believe we were basically back to square one and I had spent hours reading pages that didn’t really matter in the long run.

I was also frustrated at the end that we still don’t know where Calamity came from or how it all started. And I didn’t like that David and Mizzy got Epic powers, like that felt so cliche to me. That was actually something I was nervous about in Firefight because David almost got Epic powers then, and I’m so glad he didn’t or I would have liked that book less. I can’t believe it happened in Calamity though. Leave the main character as an ordinary human! It didn’t make sense to me though why David and his dad in the alternate dimension got Steelheart’s powers. I don’t know if I missed something huge, but why would Steelheart’s powers be granted to him?

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