As I said in reviewing ‘Super Sales on Super Heroes,’ I love Urban Fantasy and superhero stories. It is always fun to imagine yourself saving this world, not some strange and alien land. In superhero fiction, the heroes are good, and the villains are bad. You don’t see any deep mysteries, because the villains are in plain sight, usually in brightly colored leotards. You find solutions, outside of the death traps, are simple. Escapism is great. Everyone wants to fly, read minds, or punch through walls. Sometimes it is good to complicate things up a bit.
‘After the Golden Age’ by Carrie Vaughn does this very well. You meet a protagonist who isn’t a superhero. She’s the least exciting criminal chaser – the accountant. Examining the interactions of a – somewhat angry young woman – with the superhero world keeps you turning pages. In the beginning, the novel moves in several unexpected ways.
I want to start this off by saying that I reviewed this novel having loved the first few Kitty books, so I had high expectations. The first third of the novel was also very good, but then it pretty much becomes a ‘coming of age’ story.
The novel’s main flaw is that it is a bit too structured and I could pretty much map out the ending by the time I’d read half-way through. It is very well done and an enjoyable read, but it fails to surprise me after the first third. The second flaw is that the protagonist is … a relatively difficult person. You can sympathize with her feelings, but those feelings can become exasperating. I don’t feel that the author was wrong with her feelings or actions, just that reading her made me feel a bit sympathetically depressed and neurotic. Finally, the father’s implicit violence against his own daughter is hard to stomach. Again, the scene writing is realistic and terrible, but not fun.
For the protagonist, there is a lot of character development. The scenes were well structured and well written. After reading a lot of entry novels, I’m usually expecting a few poor point-of-view changes, scene flips, weird details, or random characters. This novel is on-point, always. The first third of the novel is lively and it lulls you into thinking that it is an off-kilter superhero novel. Nope, this is a ‘real-life coming of age novel’ that just happens to be set in a world that contains superheroes. The novel does a good job of developing our protagonist and I only felt cheated that she pulled the punches of the father in the end. I guess that qualifies as a plot twist, as I was expecting worse from the dad.
This is a very good novel, but I recommend that you understand going in that there is zero escapist fantasy going on. This is a coming of age novel of a young woman who is escaping from the shadow of a troubled childhood and a famous (and complicated) family. It isn’t what I wanted to read, but (from the number of five-star ratings) this is a novel a lot of people enjoyed reading.
For me, the fun number is fairly low, like a three, but the overall quality of the writing makes me give this novel four stars. After the Golden Age is a great novel, but not really my cup of tea.