Novel: After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

Carrie Vaughn is another Futurismic contributor who’s gone on to bigger and better things. One of the more recent entries in her successful novel career is After the Golden Age (2011), a breezy, light-hearted comic book homage.

It’s about Celia West, a normal young woman in a normal city with a normal job — despite an extraordinary past. Celia’s parents are Captain Olympus and Spark, founders of the vigilante superhero team The Olympiad. Celia’s spent the majority of her short life struggling to live up to their larger-than-life reputation, but it’s tough going, especially when her only superpowers seem to be accounting and getting kidnapped in villainous plots against her parents. But when Celia’s day job involves her in a high-profile trial against a notorious super-villain called The Destructor, she finds herself uniquely positioned to uncover a conspiracy against Commerce City, and solve the mysteries of its past.

I liked After the Golden Age without loving it. It’s a pleasant, diverting, and very fast read; Vaughn’s style is quick, relaxed, and fun. For the first hundred pages or so, though, I had trouble getting invested: the narrative meanders early, a premise in search of a plot. But it improves in the second half as the world gains depth and the mystery falls into place. Plus, Celia flips the switch and starts taking a more active role in the proceedings. Celia’s journey is a relatable one, a heartfelt coming-of-age story about the difficulties of living up to life’s expectations.

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