After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn, an adult science fiction novel, caught my attention with the simple yet eye catching cover. A female super hero graced the cover and when I opened the book to read that this was so not about a female super hero but a child of two of the greatest super heroes and to add, she has no powers at all. She is an isolated CPA that is trying to live a normal life away from the endless spotlight of her father Captain Olympus and mother Spark. I had to read about Celia West and her part normal, part super hero filled world.
Celia West is a CPA who is living quietly in Commerce City as a normal civilian. The daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, who has no powers of her own is caught up in a media crazed case that shines an irritating spotlight on her once again. She is now the star forensic accountant that can find what’s needed to put away The Destructor, Commerce City’s super villain that Celia herself has a mysterious linked past with, so much for living quietly. Celia is about to uncover many secrets about the good and evil of Commerce City, in the process further distancing herself from her parents wondering who can be trusted. Commerce City will have no choice but to have faith in Celia West.
The opening chapter of After the Golden Age had me laughing, not because it was funny but the way Vaughn was able to instantly tell the reader how a typical day in Celia’s life may be like, a typical day of being the two most powerful super heroes daughter, and the umpteenth time being kidnapped. Celia is simply bored with her past hero filled life and really just wants to be left alone. Sometimes she can seem pretty ungrateful and I wanted to scream at her to just get a grip already and deal. Especially when her parents just want to help. But once you get the back-story on that issue you see Celia as a typical woman with typical family issues. I don’t see how she could have been written without a bit of anger in her. Which helps in her remarkable detective work. She’s a smart resourceful woman that thinks on her toes, with an outstanding attaché case. Her character is what drives the story and kept me guessing. You as the reader are in the exact position she’s in. She gets encouragement from members of the Olympiad, who are a fun filled group as well. They all seem to look at Celia as one of their own and are always willing to help.
Introducing Dr. Arthur Mentis. He is particularly taken with Celia and is the one who has Celia’s trust. He can read minds and is able to not read Celia’s so that they may have an honest friendship. He is a character who I would really like to read more about. I think an entire book could be written about Mentis. He explains a small portion of his history to Celia that had me asking more about him. For example he speaks of how he can’t hold his liquor too well, and that in college he became ill and that through his mind the entire dorm became intoxicated, pretty cool. Mentis always seemed a bit tortured in a way, maybe even to Celia, which is why they have a connection. Celia uncovers a major part of Arthur’s life that I as a reader didn’t see coming. He is a mirror of Celia in way. Someone who has to stop hiding from things and face what they both want.
One thing that stood out in this book for me was the way Vaughn weaved Celia’s past into the present. It wasn’t annoying, or detouring from the main point. It shed light on some of the smaller characters and explains why Celia is Celia. After the Golden Age reads much like a Batman comic book. It is a mystery really, not science fiction in my opinion, but I guess if you want to get the right reader this is where you would categorize it. It has so many questions that are asked and answered in a heart-stopping way. When a character comes into play that Celia requires answers from you really don’t want to blink because you want to see if your prediction was spot on.
I would say that anyone who likes a good mystery or comic books would take to this book. It really reads at the right speed and the ending is worth it. Even if people say they anticipated the ending you still find that the ending is perfect. It’s what you didn’t know you wanted from the book and I can tell you that from reading the first chapter I would have never have guessed the ending Vaughn chose. There were just so many twists and turns for me, that I kept changing my prediction then finally gave up and just read. This really is a great book that is for someone who is looking for something different to read. So step out of your genre for a bit and fall into the hidden secrets of After the Golden Age.