After the Golden Age
by Carrie Vaughn
Sometimes it's a good thing not to write reviews right away. I was all set to give this book four stars. Then nature called and while taking care of business, the realization hit me: most of this plot was meaningless! All the digging for clues and setting things up didn't matter at all because in the end the villain calls our hero to tell her exactly where--and who--he is. What the heck is that?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that really this could have been chopped into a short story because the rest winds up being filler. Setting up all these relationships, what did it really matter? All but one of the superheroes wasn't even present for the grand finale!
The mostly unimportant story is like "The Incredibles" if the kids didn't have superpowers. Captain Olympus is like Superman and his wife Spark is like the Human Torch, only a girl. They have a daughter named Celia West who doesn't have any powers, except being a hostage. She's kidnapped about six times before the book starts.
The big nemesis is called the Destructor, who is like the resident Dr. Doom. The superheroes have caught him at last and now he's facing a trial. Celia is a forensic accountant assigned to the case despite that years ago she defected to the Destructor's side to get back at her parents. Meanwhile some new criminals are stealing priceless violins and fish (no fooling) and unleashing terror while also abducting Celia a couple more times.
The ride getting up to the big finish is interesting enough, though it never gets much deeper than the back cover flap description. This isn't in the vein of comics like "Watchmen" that try to have profound social messages.
The writing is pretty vanilla; it definitely is not going to challenge you. Celia is your typical spunky female just dying to be played by Rachael McAdams or Amy Adams in a movie adaptation. Though it's hard to have much respect for her since she gets kidnapped so many times before the story and four times DURING the story and yet still walks right into the trap at the end. Yeesh, after a while you'd think she'd get wise and start taking some precautions. And as I said, for all the digging for clues she does, it doesn't really have any impact. It would also have been nice if she hadn't been quite so whiny about her parents all the time.
The romance between her and a police detective who is also the mayor's son, like so much of the story just doesn't matter. In this case it's because another romance comes along, one that's a bit creepy.
Besides the end confrontation not being anything very exciting, the last chapter--which should have been an epilogue--quickly summarizes what happens to all the important characters. Besides limiting the sequel potential, there's nothing emotionally satisfying about these little blurbs.
In all it's comparable to the lesser superhero movies at your local multiplex. So long as you don't stop to think about it, it's not too bad.
That is all.