Spotted Dreams of the Golden Age on the “New Books” shelf at the library & recalled enjoying its predecessor After the Golden Age, which I read back in August of last year.
This novel picks up some 15-20 years later with the teenaged Anna West, daughter of Celia West and not only heir (along with her sister, Bethy) to the West Corp business fortune, but also granddaughter of two of the members of the Olympiad, the former superhero team of Commerce City. Anna seems to be following in their footsteps, as she and her friends have superpowers and are itching to use them; sneaking out of their homes at night and meeting to practice their moves.
But Celia’s not as in the dark as it might seem; in fact, she helped bring together potential superpowered kids (based on research she started in the first book) and is keeping a watchful eye over them while is holding a rather powerful secret of her own.
Even though I don’t remember thinking After the Golden Age needed a sequel; this novel builds nicely on the events of the first book. Celia’s experiences from her young adulthood have served her well as she works to protect her city the best way she knows how, despite having no superpowers. She and Arthur have a good marriage, she has reconciled with her mother and has remained friends with Analise and Mark. Anna has somewhat of her mother’s rebellious streak, and her superpower is an interesting adaptation of telepathy: she knows where people are. Mostly just family and friends; but her talent develops over the course of the novel.
The book switches between Anna and Celia’s points of view, making it semi-omniscient third person, I suppose. While the focus is on these two women and their relationship; the supporting characters are well rounded and IMHO, get sufficient arcs of their own. The plot developed a little slowly perhaps, lacking a Big Bad until near the end; but that worked for this novel, which is as much about accepting yourself and your friends/family for who they are as it is about the superhero stuff. Vaughn’s worldbuilding is very well done, looking beyond the capes and masks into what a world (or at least a city) where superheroes existed might be like - and what happens to those people once the adventuring is over (as well as before it starts.)
I enjoyed both these novels and would recommend them to fans of The Incredibles, another human relationships story that just happened to have superheroes in it.