Vanguard Prime to the rescue
by George Ivanoff - April 10th, 2013
Superheros, pop culture references and a fast-paced story combine to make an exciting and easy reading experience. What am I talking about? Goldrush — the first instalment in Steven Lochran’s Vanguard Prime series of teen novels.
Sam Lee was an ordinary teenager until he suddenly developed super powers. Now he finds himself recruited by the elite military superhero group, Vanguard Prime, and given the superhero name Goldrush. As he attempts to fit in and gain control of his new-found powers, he is thrown into the middle of a struggle to save the world from the ultimate super villain, the Overman.
Vangaurd Prime is obviously inspired by established comic book superheros, from The Avenger to X-Men. In fact, there are quite marked similarities to the latter —instead of ‘mutants’, the superheros and super villains are ‘neohumans’. There is certainly an element of the derivative and predictable in this book. But Lockran handles it all with such enthusiasm, humour and lightning speed, that it really doesn’t matter. In fact, a familiarity with the comic book heroes of the past helps make this book even more enjoyable.
There is a lot to like in this book. The humour is wonderful… particularly the way in which the superheroes are marketed to the public. Love it! Sam’s character development is good — from reluctant recruit to vital team member — making him sympathetic and likable. But it’s all the pop culture references I loved the most. My personal favourite is the Star Trek reference to ‘Kobeyashi’. The moment that name is mentioned, every die-hard Star Trek fan knows exactly what’s going down. And there are many other references, from the obvious to the obscure. Even the name of the lead character is reminiscent of Stan Lee, legendary comic book writer and co-creator of so many superheroes, including the X-Men.
The narrative is divided between first-person present tense (for Sam) and third-person present tense. I’ve got to admit to not particularly liking this. I’m not a fan of present tense. I don’t mind it for first-person narrative where everything is from a particular character’s point of view, and that character’s inner thought processes are vital to the story … but I find it jarring in third-person. I can see why the author used it, as it does have immediacy and impact, but I’m still not keen on it. I’m sure that not all readers will share my bias, so please don’t let it put you off. I did get used to it as the story went along.
All up, Goldrush is a fun and exciting read. I’ll certainly be ordering the next instalment, Wild Card.
Catch ya later, George
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Tags: Steven Lochran