Vanguard Prime to the rescue

by - April 10th, 2013

GoldrushSuperheros, 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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3 Responses to “Vanguard Prime to the rescue”

  1. Steven Lochran Says:

    Hi George,

    Thanks so much reviewing ‘Goldrush’! I’m so glad you liked it!

    I’m also really glad you liked the Kobeyashi Maru reference. In fact, you’re the first person to mention it!

    What you had to say about the use of present tense was interesting; originally, all the third person sections were in past tense, while all the first person sections were in present. The shift between the two felt a little unnatural in parts, so my editor and I switched it all to present tense to smooth it out.

    IMHO, it reads easier that way…but then I recently read a novel where the author used a combination of third-person-past/first-person-present and pulled it off seamlessly. I was so jealous!

    Thanks again for taking the time to read and review the book. Fingers crossed you like ‘Wild Card’ just as much. And if we get to Book 5 in the series, you’ll find out what dark secret differentiates neohumans from mutants…

    And with that tease of things to come, I’ll take my leave.

    All the best,

    Steven Lochran

  2. George Ivanoff Says:

    Hi Steven,

    It’s always a pleasure reviewing a book I enjoyed reading. And I am very much looking forward to Wild Card.

    I loved the Kobeyashi Maru reference. It was a great clue for people in the know. I was literally bouncing up an down in my seat when I read that bit, singing “I know what’s happening!”. I tried to explain to my wife, but she just didn’t see what I was getting so excited about. 🙂

    The present tense thing is just a personal bias. And yes, bouncing back and forth between present and past would have been risky. As I said in the review, I did get used to it. And now that I am used to it, it probably won’t even register when I get to reading book 2.

    Book 5? Wow… you do plan ahead!

    Cheers, George

  3. Steven Lochran Says:

    I know exactly what you mean – if I had a dollar for every time I’ve tried to explain a reference I’m geeking out about, I’d own my own publishing company!

    I also used to have a bias against present tense; especially in third person. It just sounded too script-like to me. It’s taken a little adjustment in using it myself, but I think it gets better as the series goes along.

    Yep, Book 5. Once I’d created the world for Vanguard Prime, I couldn’t resist coming up with more and more ideas for it!

    That said, we’re at a critical juncture right now as to whether or not more books get picked up by the publisher, so if anyone out there ends up reading and enjoying the series, I’ll ask them now to let as many people know about it as possible! I’ll even come up with the equivalent of a Marvel No-Prize as a token of gratitude.

    There’s another geeky reference for you 🙂