Shiloh (Fantastic Reading)'s Reviews > After the Golden Age

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn
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Jun 22, 12

bookshelves: fantasy
Read from June 20 to 22, 2012

This review also appears on my blog.

Celia West is the daughter of two powerful, popular superheroes, but she is utterly without superpower, which has led to a lifetime of tension between her and her father. When supervillain Destructor goes on trial, Celia's darkest secret is dragged into the light. But at the same time, a crime wave is sweeping Commerce City, and Celia suspects that the roots of this wave--and Destructor's obsessions--go back to her grandparents and explain everyone's superpowers.

A clever blend of the Justice League and Watchmen with a hint of The Dark Knight, After the Golden Age captures both the sweeping epicness of the grand tales of superheroes versus supervillains and the gritty reality of those without powers who live in the city. Vaughn deftly brings us the life of a woman who is half-in, half-out of the superhero fold, a flawed heroine who has made mistakes and occasionally falls prey to self-pity, but ultimately picks herself back up and contributes to saving the city.

The structure of the novel also hearkened to comics; every chapter or so we'd get a fullblown flashback that explored a piece of Celia's past, and they weren't presented in chronological order. The narrative was also very visual, utilizing descriptions of odd visual effects that could easily have been at home in a graphic novel. Also, I feel that the novel has an advantage in that it's not crippled by comic artists' insistence on making anatomically impossible heroines.

Also, at least to me, it was quite unpredictable. Every so often I'd think I had a character figured out and was absolutely sure that this character was up to no good and would betray Celia, and I was nearly always wrong. Said character always had a secret, but it was never what I expected.

This one kept me up long past my bedtime. It's a clever book which takes theme, structure, and story from comics and graphic novels yet tells them entirely in words. Vaughn has outdone herself with this.
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Reading Progress

06/21/2012 page 110
36.0% "DUDE."

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