The Vanguard by SJ Griffin

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The Vanguard by SJ Griffin

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Category: Dystopian Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable post-catastrophe mystery thriller with enough twists and turns to shake a stick at. It has a super, unexpected ending and absorbing characters. SJ Griffin popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 428 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Squintarium
External links: Author's website
ISBN: B00904MC30

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Sorcha Blades and her four closest friends do the best they can with what they have. Living in a post-apocalyptic world, they are from the wrong side of the tracks. Unable to live easy and glittering lives like the elite, they scam and forage and hack their way to some degree of comfort and still manage to avoid the - very unpleasant - state security apparatus for the most part. Not that there's much state left for the security apparatus to protect.

The last thing the five friends want is notoriety. The last thing they see themselves as is heroic. But a prophecy says different. And when they find themselves endowed with special powers, they do everything they can to avoid becoming super-heroes. But a prophecy is a prophecy and there's no escaping this one...

... so begins The Vanguard, a genuinely original and genre-busting novel combining speculative, fantasy and science fiction writing to great effect.

I will say that there is a huge cast of secondary characters who appear and disappear at various places in the narrative. And I don't mind confessing that I sometimes got a bit muddled between them. Perhaps some of these could be better or more trenchantly described on their first showing to make recall easier. My mind was ejected from the narrative a few times because of this.

Otherwise, though, The Vanguard is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I loved the worldbuilding of a post-flood city filled with toxic waters and people living in, under and above previous landmark buildings. Sorcha and her band of friends lead colourful lives on the edges of legality and respectability and these are vividly described. I loved their wild, yet strangely practical, ways. It's not easy to survive in a post-apocalytpic world, but these guys are making a great - and very entertaining - fist of it.

And then there's the reluctant super-hero plot. This is well thought through and straddles the boundary between fantasy and science fiction extremely well. Without dropping spoilers - I hate spoilers - the denouement is great. I wondered how Griffin would manage the lead-in to further books in the series and I really wasn't expecting it to go the way it did. So kudos to her for not being predictable.

I also enjoyed the dry wit that infuses this entire novel. Sorcha, in particular, has a mordant sense of humour and she offers many wonderfully ironic throwaway lines. Self-deprecating she might be, but she also made me laugh out loud. I'll be looking out for the next book in this series. No doubt.

You might also enjoy The White Cat by Holly Black, which is set in a world where magic has been banned just as alcohol was during Prohibition. Paranoia is rife and everyone wears gloves. We think you'll also enjoy Connected by Simon Denman and The Guard by Peter Terrin.

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Buy The Vanguard by SJ Griffin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Vanguard by SJ Griffin at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Vanguard by SJ Griffin at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Vanguard by SJ Griffin at

You can read more about SJ Griffin here.

Bookinterviews.jpg SJ Griffin was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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