Review: After the Golden Age

Posted: September 28, 2011 by in Books that are Mediocre (3/5 single_star) Meta: Carrie Vaughn, Urban Fantasy

Celia West had it good growing up. At least that’s what everyone thinks. She’s the daughter of the wealthiest man in Commerce City, and heir to the West fortune. Dad and mom are also superheros. Everyone asks what it was like growing up with Captain Olympus for a dad and Spark for a mother. Celia avoids the question, but if she answered it straight up she’d say, “Not as awesome as you would think.”

But Celia has since graduated from college, moved out of the luxury penthouse she grew up in and into her own place, and works as a forensic accountant at one of the city’s biggest accounting firms. She only wants to be normal. And pretty much avoid her estranged father.

Then her boss assigns her to the city’s district attorney as a consultant on the Case of the Century: prosecuting the notorious villain Destructor for tax evasion. Mom and Dad and the rest of their superhero team spent decades dealing with the Destructor’s… well, destruction in his attempts to annihilate Commerce City and the people in it. Dad votes to ‘visit’ him in prison and end the trial hoopla before it even begins. Too bad he doesn’t.

Carrie Vaughn could have made AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE (Amazon) into a comic book farce, poking fun at the genre as it seems others have done lately. Instead, even with the book’s satire, on the whole it’s a nod to superhero comics, with a feel-good story. But even if AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE can be a little sappy, it doesn’t mean it’s all squeaky clean. Celia overcomes a conflicted past, even the good guys have grey along the edges, and the villains are villains for a reason.

Told from Celia’s straightforward PoV narration, the story moves forward at a steady clip, revealing along the way what life was really like being the child of supers—including her short stint as the villain’s henchwoman just to tick off her father. As we learn more about Celia, it’s easy to like her and appreciate her struggles, even if they weren’t exactly the everyday variety. Well, except that she keeps getting kidnapped. You’d think she’d get smarter about that after a while.

Even though AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE isn't perfect, I still I enjoyed it, and the novel's issues won't keep me from reading it again.

It takes place in Commerce City, your typical Metropolis-type city. The superpowers of strength, fire, speed, water are typical. But then, they aren’t the main characters of the story, so not a lot of time is spent explaining their powers or the how or why.

While the story is entertaining, and the characters interesting, there are relationships, characters, and plotlines that go nowhere, or end up meaning little by the end of the story. These are the things that kept this book from the ‘like’ category. While I enjoyed the main storyline, Celia’s relationship with her parents, and the sweet love story involved, I couldn’t get past the contrived climax and certain pointless plot elements.

In the end, even though AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE isn’t perfect, I still I enjoyed it, and the novel’s issues won’t keep me from reading it again.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Fewer than five instances
  • Violence: A few characters die, but it's not overly graphic; most violence is off-screen
  • Sex: A couple of referenced scenes, but without detail

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