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After the Golden Age [Mass Market Paperback]

Carrie Vaughn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 31 2012
It's not easy being a superhero's daughter....

Carrie Vaughn has captured legions of fans with her wildly popular Kitty Norville novels. Now she uses her extraordinary wit and imagination to tell a sensational new story about superhuman heroes—and the people who have to live with them.

Most people dream of having superheroes for parents, but not Celia West. The only daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, the world's greatest champions, she has no powers of her own, and the most exciting thing she's ever done is win a silver medal in a high school swim meet. Meanwhile, she's the favorite hostage of every crime boss and supervillain in Comemrce City. She doesn't have a code name, but if she did, it would probably be Bait Girl, the Captive Wonder.

Rejecting her famous family and its legacy, Celia has worked hard to create a life for herself beyond the shadow of their capes, becoming a skilled forensic accountant. But when her parents' archenemy, the Destructor, faces justice in the "Trial of the Century," Celia finds herself sucked back into the more-than-mortal world of Captain Olympus—and forced to confront a secret that she hoped would stay buried forever.

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Review

Praise for Carrie Vaughn:
 
“Brilliantly structured, beautifully written…. Vaughn brings together mythology, fairy tales, and very human lives, immersing readers in the stories these complex characters tell themselves to make sense of their war-torn worlds.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Carrie Vaughn weaves a gorgeous tapestry of the human condition in a postapocalyptic world filled with mystery, magic, and immortals. Her world-building is masterful!”
—L. A. Banks, New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Carrie Vaughn masterfully weaves together comic books, Greek gods, King Arthur, and a world on the brink of nuclear war. Discord’s Apple is phenomenal!”
—Jackie Kessler, co-author of Shades of Gray, on Discord’s Apple
 
“Enough excitement, astonishment, pathos, and victory to satisfy any reader.”
—Charlaine Harris on Kitty and the Midnight Hour

About the Author

Carrie Vaughn is the New York Times bestselling author of the Kitty Norville books, including Kitty’s Big Trouble, Kitty Goes to War, and Kitty and the Midnight Hour. She is also the author of the stand-alone novel Discord’s Apple, and the young adult books Voice of Dragons and Steel. Vaughn had the nomadic childhood of the typical Air Force brat, with stops across the country from California to Florida. She earned her B.A. from Occidental College in Los Angeles, and a master’s in English from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She has worked as a Renaissance Festival counter wench, a theater usher, an editor, a buyer at an independent bookstore, and an administrative assistant. She lives in Boulder, Colorado.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Child of the supers Aug. 25 2011
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Imagine if your parents were world-famous superheroes... and you were an accountant with no special abilities whatsoever.

Yeah, the issues resulting from that would be legion. And "After The Golden Age" devotes itself to one such situation -- Carrie Vaughn carefully explores what it would be like to be the powerless child of superheroes, and manages to avoid anything too cartoonish. The characters are well-fleshed out, the writing is strong, and the story is original.

Commerce City is constantly guarded by the Olympiad, headed by Captain Olympus and the beautiful Spark, who protect it from the Destructor and various other supervillains. And since she was born without powers, Celia West (daughter of Spark and Olympus) has spent her whole life being kidnapped, wooed by the enemy, and feuding with her parents. She just tries to be normal.

Now the Destructor is about to be convicted for tax fraud, and Celia is involved in the case -- which is putting some tension between her and her dad. But after Celia's past with the Destructor is revealed, she ends up in a bizarre quest to discover what his true plan is -- and ends up uncovering a retired superhero, the origin of the superhuman powers, and her own "ordinary" abilities.

The plot of "After the Golden Age" is one of those stories that could have gone either way: a bad author would have turned it into a sad cartoonish mess, and a good author could make it an engaging fantasy about what it is to be "ordinary." Fortunately, Carrie Vaughn has definitely achieved the latter -- and I'd love to see it as a graphic novel.

Vaughn experimented with flashback-filled narratives in "Discord's Apple," and she continues to do that here, exploring some of the past history of Celia and the Olympiad in flashbacks.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A darn good read May 4 2012
By Rhea
Format:Hardcover
I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this novel. The story follows Celia West, the non-super powered daughter of two superheros. The author had a the perfect mix of humour, drama and action. The writing clipped along at a good pace but what really made it great was the growth and interactions of the various characters. Each character had his or her own story which the author wrapped up neatly in the end. I quite enjoyed After the Golden Age and hope the author will consider a sequel!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fun romp and quick read. Sept. 6 2011
By Jessica Strider TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Pros: interesting take on the superhero lifestyle, protagonist has a fascinating back story and bitter streak, quick read

Cons: climax was a let down, predictable

Celia West is the daughter of two of Commerce City's quartet of superpowered defenders, Captain Olympus and Spark. Having grown up a disappointment to them, her only power is being kidnapped by every two-bit criminal who wants to avoid her parents' interference in their affairs. Starting with Simon Sito, the Destructor, the man who exposed her parents' secret identities.

Sito is now on trial for crimes against the city and Celia's on the prosecution's team, digging up accounting records that can help put him away for good. But the trial brings up a youthful indiscretion that proves you can't escape your past and no amount of clean living can erase a stupid decision - if your parents are famous enough.

This is a fun novel if you're a fan of comic books. The West Plaza and 4 member team reminding me a lot of the Fantastic Four (but only in a general way).

Celia's a sympathetic protagonist. While everyone she meets is in awe of her parents and can't understand why she's at odds with them, through the plot and flashbacks it's easy to see where she's coming from. She's bitter about a lot of things and comes off snarky at times, while trying to stay out from under her parents' shadows. And she makes for a mostly intelligent hostage.

My only complaint is that there weren't many twists to the story. The main bad guy's pretty easy to figure out (to the point that I started second guessing myself thinking it couldn't be that easy). The climax was a bit of a let down, though the denouement made up for it.

It's a fun romp and a quick read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Child of superpowers Feb. 17 2011
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Imagine if your parents were world-famous superheroes... and you were an accountant with no special abilities whatsoever.

Yeah, the issues resulting from that would be legion. And "After The Golden Age" devotes itself to one such situation -- Carrie Vaughn carefully explores what it would be like to be the powerless child of superheroes, and manages to avoid anything too cartoonish. The characters are well-fleshed out, the writing is strong, and the story is original.

Commerce City is constantly guarded by the Olympiad, headed by Captain Olympus and the beautiful Spark, who protect it from the Destructor and various other supervillains. And since she was born without powers, Celia West (daughter of Spark and Olympus) has spent her whole life being kidnapped, wooed by the enemy, and feuding with her parents. She just tries to be normal.

Now the Destructor is about to be convicted for tax fraud, and Celia is involved in the case -- which is putting some tension between her and her dad. But after Celia's past with the Destructor is revealed, she ends up in a bizarre quest to discover what his true plan is -- and ends up uncovering a retired superhero, the origin of the superhuman powers, and her own "ordinary" abilities.

The plot of "After the Golden Age" is one of those stories that could have gone either way: a bad author would have turned it into a sad cartoonish mess, and a good author could make it an engaging fantasy about what it is to be "ordinary." Fortunately, Carrie Vaughn has definitely achieved the latter -- and I'd love to see it as a graphic novel.

Vaughn experimented with flashback-filled narratives in "Discord's Apple," and she continues to do that here, exploring some of the past history of Celia and the Olympiad in flashbacks. The plot goes rather slowly at times, but Vaughn's prose is strong and polished, with some intriguing ideas of what it would be like to live in a world with superheroes.

And Celia is a great underdog heroine for this kind of story -- she's an "ordinary" person permanently tied to the superhuman world, and has a checkered past of abduction, teen rebellion, and even a brief stint as the Destructor's sidekick. All of her feelings and experiences seem incredibly... well, "realistic" isn't quite the right word, but "plausible" works very nicely.

Carrie Vaughn seems like just the right author to give a new spin on superhero life, and "After the Golden Age" is a solid addition to her increasingly impressive bibliography. It's not the best of her standalone books thus far, but it's a very solid one.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read about superheroes from a different perspective Feb. 10 2011
By A. D. Boorman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
If Superman and Wonder Woman had a child, you might expect Superboy or something like that. Even if they had no powers - maybe a Batgirl or something. The author here went against the 'conventional wisdom. Celia is the daughter of a Superman (Cpt Olympus) and something like a Human Torch (Spark). She has no super powers, no desire to be a superhero, and her teenage rebellion was being the henchman of a supervillain, just to honk off her father.
Anyhow, Celia grows up and becomes a CPA whose specialty is forensic accounting - sort of like a detective who only does financial records. She tries to live apart from her parents and their super friends. She is working hard to make her own life, but things don't seem to let her - her parents have been `outed,' and everybody knows who they are, and who Celia is. She gets kidnapped a lot.
She gets called in on a tax evasion case against an aging supervillian - the one whom she helped once. Most of the book is about the trial - where she gets outed as once having helped "the Destructor,' the aging supervillian. From there, Celia's life gets turned upside-down, and she has to find it within herself to fix things.

If I go further, I think I might give away a lot of the fun stuff.

Anyhow, the book is a fast read - I got through it in about a week. I liked a lot of the characters - and I liked looking at them through Celia's eyes. If you liked the Disney movie "Sky High," you'll probably like this - but it's not a kids/young adult book. People die (shooting, strangulation, drowning, radiation) - but not very graphically, and mostly `off screen.' One major character dies and although the death is described, it is not excessively violent/graphic. There are corrupt politicians in the story. There are oblique references to characters having intimate relations in the book - but again, nothing graphic.

If you like comic books, and you're looking for something different, this is neat.
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Not-So-Incredibles March 10 2011
By BJ Fraser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fails to live up to premise Aug. 30 2013
By EKF - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
It is rare that I decide that I don't want to finish a book halfway through. I am a fan of this sub-genre when done well; I like a good superhero and supervillian story any day, and I enjoy them when it's acknowledged that they are human with flaws like the rest of us. The concept of this story - with the heroine being the normal / non-superpowered daughter of the most famous super-duo - sounded like perfect reading material for the waning afternoons of summer. Plus - the heroine is a forensic accountant. CPAs rarely get to be the leading lady!
Unfortunately, her career is the best thing going for Celia West (in my mind). It became tiring and, ultimately, annoying how often she described how rough it was to grow up with superheroes for parents. Every time someone new was introduced, and frequently at other times, it was reiterated that life for Celia was SO tough growing up, that she didn't get along with her parents, etc. But it was all ever told - it's never really shown, no examples are given (other than the numerous kidnapping attempts, which the heroine treats with an admittedly amusing nonchalance). She ultimately rebelled in a much bigger manner than your average teenager and, though she got her life back on track, memories of that rebellion only seem to cause annoyance in the protagonist, not regret. It results in a main character who I could not identify with at all - a whiny, self-pitying, bitter adult who can't move beyond what might not have been a perfect childhood, but certainly didn't seem "bad."
Add to that some fairly lackluster romance (with suitors who were underdeveloped), slow pacing, and a (perhaps perceived) lack of excitement/passion about superheroes in general on the part of Miss Vaughn, and it just wasn't an enjoyable ride for me.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If your parents were superheroes... March 7 2011
By dSavannah George-Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Then you'd be like Celia West, the main character in this novel set in a comic book universe and peopled, as expected, by superheroes, villains, humans, cops, politicians, good vs evil, etc.

Celia is the daughter of Captain Olympus and Spark, half of the "Olympiad", the elite group of superhumans who protect Commerce City. She is also a big disappointment - she has no powers of any kind, and in her angst-ridden youth, she actually went to "work" for the Destructor, the Olympiad's great enemy, after of course he kidnapped her.

Now she's a forensic accountant, and the DA asks her to help find evidence to convict the Destructor of tax fraud, since they can't seem to find enough information on his criminal misdeeds to put him in prison. The evidence Celia finds just takes her deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole to very unexpected places. She also keeps getting kidnapped, and has to be rescued by the Olympiad numerous times (sometimes amusing, sometimes just annoying...).

Now to personal opinions on the book: the very unexpected places were interesting and engaging. I enjoyed reading about Celia's thought process and the way she tracked down the leads. The plot was intriguing and interesting, and it was definitely an interesting concept. I also liked how Celia reacted to her kidnappings... I found it to be pretty amusing.

However, there was a lot I didn't enjoy. As another reviewer stated, the book often seemed to fall into a "bratty I-hate-my-parents they-never-understand-me" kind of story - and get stuck there. It also got stuck in the "I-have-to-be-independent I-won't-let-anyone-help-me" mindset, so in places I just wanted to throttle Celia; I was thinking: yeah, we all have parent issues - get on with it.

Also, the book needed to go back to the editing table, especially the first part, which was full of repetition (we get it, Spark has red hair, you've told us already), awkward sentence construction, unnecessary words... They also never seemed to quite work out when the members of the Olympiad should be called their "superhuman" name or their "normal" name. I found myself editing as I went along, which can be really distracting. I'd prefer to edit books only if I'm getting paid for it (which yes, I have been).

Although Celia is fairly well drawn and we understand her motivations, the other characters are more like caricatures. We never really get to know them, which means we never really get to care about them either. And the ending is... okay... but it seemed like there should be more.
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