How do you reconcile having god like powers and yet still remain a fallible human being? How can you find redemption when mistakes can have overwhelming consequences? Follow Lyra Rayne as she embarks upon a hero's journey of self-discovery in her debut novel, Ground Zero... Lyra Rayne's greatest desire is to help. In big ways and the small, she just wants to help those in need. Through the altruistic ventures of her mentor, Dr. Grant Hill, and his vision for a clean, free energy source, Lyra found a way to help make the world a better place. That is, until the experimental rector erupts into a scintillating wave of Exotic Particle Radiation that destroys their lab, and nearly kills Lyra in the process. Having miraculously survived the blast, Lyra undergoes traumatic changes that alter her physiology, right down to her DNA. Through this exposure, Lyra discovers that she has gained the supernatural ability to effect far greater change. Donning the mantle of a helpful heroine, Lyra puts herself in harms way to save the innocent. However, she quickly discovers that having superhuman powers does not reconcile human fallibility, and even one critical mistake can have devastating consequences. Faced with the cost of her attempted heroics, she suffers doubt and guilt over the blood of those she failed to save. As she struggles with the consequences of her choices, the city comes under threat from another, more powerful enhanced being. Lyra must face her fears and failings in order to stand against the rising tide of rage and vengeance that threatens the city and its inhabitants, or risk losing everything in the epic conflict to come.
Bryan Strickland, a lifelong Coloradoan, is a man of many talents. He writes, draws, paints, and sings. Well, no, he doesn't really sing; though he loves music and plays violin and guitar. Writing is his passion and focus. He is a storyteller, a creator of worlds, a lover of characters, and a crafter of memorable scenes and vivid descriptions. He is a student and lover of words; particularly those grandiose and archaic.
His story-crafting occurs not only within the books he writes, but also within home-brew campaigns he's created for weekly Dungeons & Dragons or Star Wars role playing game sessions. In both his books and his campaigns, there exists a common theme: epic momentum entwined with an inversion of the social lens. This personalized blending provides a unique perspective of what it means to be true to one's self and to become who we are meant to be. Conversely, through Strickland's villains, we see that a diversion from the best qualities of humanity can make monsters of anyone.
Strickland's art ranges from hyper-realistic digital portraits to illustrations, concept art, cartography, and story-boarding. He also sculpts; often producing miniature figurines to represent beloved characters in his home-brew games. Between writing, researching, and creating art; he relaxes his mind and body by playing music, video games, frequenting the gym, or by practicing martial arts under his favorite tree.
He is married to his childhood sweetheart, a relationship spanning over twenty years. She is the glue that holds their lives together; the ink to his quill. Together, they have two children.
A new superhero book that was reasonably entertaining. There were some parts I enjoyed, others I struggled with so I’m left feeling that this was about an average Kindle Unlimited (currently) self-published read. While the main hero is female and has powers similar to Superman, this book gave me a real Spiderman movie feel to it. If you enjoyed really any of the million Spidey remakes, you might enjoy the feel of this book too.
I do have to say I struggled in the beginning of this book. I could not get into the flow of it. I kept picking it up and putting it down. The dialogue almost felt a little forced, just not as natural as you might expect. I was bound and determined to get through this since I hate to DNF. Once I got more into the story the writing felt more comfortable to me. I don’t know if it improved or I just got used to it but I was finally able to read this book.
You know when you are dealing with a reactor, chances are a superhero could be born. The main idea for this story is nothing new, in fact to anyone who knows superheroes this whole story was very predictable. One the good side the journey of the main becoming a hero is where the book was really entertaining. I enjoyed the saving of all the people and learning your powers type scenes. I liked the overall journey to hero that the main character went on.
Since I was reviewing the book for https://lezreviewbooks.com I did expect this book to have a LGBTQ main character. Sexuality is never really discussed but I’m guessing both characters are bi and there is a WLW relationship in the book. I do want to make clear that it is very G-rated. Because I was expecting the relationship I could see it coming, but there were not many clues there for a reader. There was almost no talk about inner feelings and no real chemistry developing. It was basically friends for 75% of the book until one kiss and then the “I love you’s” are being tossed about. I’m appreciative of Strickland writing LGBTQ characters but if he’s going to have them in a relationship, even if it’s G-rated, they need a little spark, some romance and feelings so it is believable.
The biggest struggle I had with this book was the length. I know self-published authors hate to hear this but this book could have used an editor. I could have easily cut 50 pages, if not double that, and the book would have only improved. Since this is a hero book, there is of course a villain. The villain reminded me of the big green guy, including the Hulk smash he seemed to use in the book. Anyway, the big finale, the climax of the book is the big battle scene. Which should be really exciting in any superhero book/movie, and it was in parts, the problem was it lasted forever! I mean forever! There is only so much kicking, punching, smashing, choking, throwing, stomping I can read about. And this is coming for a self-proclaimed geek about superheroes. Instead of being completely enthralled by the action, I started to get bored and shouted “just die already!” at my Kindle.
This is the first book in the series and even with my multiple complaints, I still am tempted to read the next installment when it comes out. The entertainment factor is there and this series has potential, Strickland just needs to edit content. I appreciate an author giving us a lot of pages for our money but more isn’t always better. If you are a superhero fan you might find this book entertaining. It certainly has its bumps but it’s not a bad Kindle Unlimited choice.
Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero is the first book in Bryan Strickland’s superhero series. The story is essentially an origin story for the main hero and her comrades, and follows through three stages: introduction to Lyra and how she gains her powers, Lyra learning her abilities and the villain reveal, and an action-packed finale. The layout of the story should be familiar to most superhero fans, and that’s really no bad thing. At its heart, I felt like Lyra Rayne was a loving homage to superhero tales, so the familiarity makes sense.
The characters themselves are decent too. As a lead, Lyra is enjoyable. She’s generally kind-hearted with a good sense of right – as shown in her saving a transgender student from bullying at the start of the book – but is also easily led by her friends. She’s a black belt martial artist, so her being able to fight when she goes super makes sense. At the same time, she can also be a little stubborn and focussed on her goal rather than the ramifications. She gets a wake-up call for more impetuous actions around the midway mark, allowing for her to grow and learn to balance her actions too.
Of the other characters, Lyra’s best friend – and eventual love interest – Mia is easily the most likable. She’s outspoken and fills the role of devil on Lyra’s shoulder when it comes to her daily life. The way the two women interact was one of my favourite parts of the book too, as their friendship felt natural, and it was interesting seeing how it was impacted when Lyra started crime-fighting.
The superhero work itself was enjoyable too, with Lyra taking on a Superman styled set of core abilities – such as flight and strength – to combat various crimes and disasters. Her interactions with the big bad were the best of these in my opinion, as they saw her having to adapt as she went along. The battles involved also didn’t shy away from the idea that superbeings could actually do a lot of damage if two clashed.
Lyra’s powers too are well thought out, with some downsides thrown in. They take a physical toll on Lyra, which prevents them from being limitless. They also mean that she has to concentrate a lot to keep her strength in check, thusly affecting her martial arts training. There does appear to be some scientific thinking behind them too, though my own knowledge level is not enough to comment on how accurate the scientific elements are. Being a superhero tale though, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
In terms of faults with the book, I feel like some of the early conversational sections were a little less assured than the later ones. Nothing was unreadable, but some of it didn’t really flow as well as others. Lyra and Mia’s romantic relationship too may or may not read well to some. The two ladies show interest in men then, bar a throwaway comment from Mia, fall in love without much in the way of hinting that it’s coming. They’re both likable characters, so I give it a thumbs up for positive bi rep, but I would have liked to have seen this build up a little more before it happened.
These are minor gripes though. In the end, this was an enjoyable story with a decent lead, and it certainly made me want to check out the eventual sequel. I give this a solid 4 out of 5.
So I'm not super into superhero books (comic or otherwise) as a general rule. I like the movies, and I love the characters. But the stories often embody a lot of patriarchal BS mixed in with narcissistic hero complexes. They tend to paint women as little more than sex objects who exist solely for the male gaze (Wonder Woman was written expressly for that purpose). As a queer woman, I don't really see myself represented in many superhero stories, which are mostly spun in a heteronormative, hypermasculine society. And the fight scenes make my eyes glaze over. I don't have the attention span for them.
Bryan Strickland's Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero steps outside of all that.
Lyra Rayne is an intelligent grad student who enjoys mixed martial arts, partying with her friends, and helping people as much as she can. She stands up for what she believes in and takes no crap she isn't owed.
Lyra works as a research assistant with her mentor, Professor Grant Hill, and his other assistant, Gerald. They're research is focused on an energy source that would eliminate the need for fossil fuels. Their world is like our world, with similar problems and political debates. Their efforts are altruistic: affordable, 100% clean energy for the entire world.
Lyra's also very human. She empathizes with people who aren't like her. She speaks up when she sees people being mistreated. She gets to the lab late more often than not. She makes questionable decisions and beats herself up when they blow up in her face.
And boy, do some of them blow up in her face. My mistakes pale in comparison to some of hers. But then she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and heads back into the fray to fight again. Every single time. Which is part of the beauty of this book, and one of its many life lessons.
Every superhero needs its origin story, and Lyra is no different. One day, the university's lab explodes, Lyra nearly dies trying to save Gerald. When she wakes up the next morning, she's got abilities most people only dream of. After testing her abilities to the limit, she realizes she now has the potential to do so much more good, and off she goes, headstrong and eager.
Bryan Strickland's writing style draws you in, winding tales that force you to confront your worldview. His characters find themselves in situations that leave you wondering what you'd have done. They learn hard lessons, and realize things about themselves that they don't necessarily like, and figure out how to keep moving forward because the only way out is through. And in the end, they come out better for it.
I didn't realize how much I needed this book.
The situations in which Lyra finds herself are harrowing. The science she works with is intriguing. The fight scenes even kept me on the edge of my seat. But Lyra's humanity is what hooked me. Her determination and gumption are what will have me waiting with bated breath for the next book.
The bones of this story were really good. Strickland’s debut has a lot of potential, but much of the story gets lost in long-winded, overwritten scenes.
I enjoyed Lyra as a character and I thought Strickland did a good job of outlining her and setting her up as the main character. However, I didn’t feel like she ended up fully fleshed out. I got the impression that she was almost there, but her inner monologues were way too long and repetitive most of the time. As for her best friend, she felt fairly one dimensional and I found her annoying after awhile. I think the most fleshed out character was the Professor, but still not quite there.
They each have a set of characteristics and those seemed to be repeated in different scenarios. The villain I saw coming from a mile away and his reasons for being the villain were never really thought out to me; there were maybe a few hints, but then bam! there he was.
Looking at the whole story, the plot made sense, which is what ultimately matters. However, each scene felt maybe five pages too long. Fight scenes went on way too long as well as inner monologues. This story really needed to be edited down considerably. That’s why I started to skim past the non-dialogue parts.
Strickland’s writing was good and got the job done. I just think conciseness when it comes to description would make the story stronger and more impactful. I don’t regret reading it as it still entertained me. Though I don’t see myself picking up the second book.
An arc of this book was kindly provided to me by the author and did not impact this review in any way.
I found myself heavily invested in Lyra, and found her inner conflict very relatable. How do you take on such a grand responsibility overnight? I feel that this book, being a very dense read, could have been shaved down by almost a third, and still done a marvelous job telling the story. I look forward to continuing with Lyra's story in book 2!