Tuesday, April 9, 2013

REVIEW: Wild Card by Steven Lochran

Wild Card (Vanguard Prime, #2)Wild Card by Steven Lochran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book 2, Wild Card, surpassed book 1. (Read my review for book 1 here.)

+ the protagonist

Sam was no longer Mister Mopey, which was my biggest issue in book 1. This time he was eager for action and ready to kick ass. I went "yay" and "thank goodness" that the character growth, which occurred in book 1, was kept in book 2.

However, Sam still has much growing to do because a new issue arose. I was irked by how naive he sounded. Sam was having a hard time digesting the fact that superhero-ing sometimes means putting down the villains — permanently. I tried making concessions for his age, but no success. He's a teenager, not a complete kid. If the military and superhero adults think he's old enough to fight face to face with supervillains, then he's old enough to realize the casualties of war and face reality. Fortunately, the new issue only showed up 2-3 times and never long enough for me to be seriously irked.

+ the other major character

Even though Sam was the star of the series, book 2 was about The Knight of Wands, the series' version of Batman. His character improved a lot since book 1. In book 2, he opened up about his past, thoughts, and feelings; he no longer felt like a cardboard character.

+ everyone else

Book 2 introduced a new ally and a new cast of villains. Solitaire was great; I liked her cleverness, her persistence, and positive attitude. Once again, the series showed that its strength lay in strong female characters.

I couldn't say the same for the cast of villains, particularly the men. Just like the evil dudes in book 1, the new evil dudes in book 2 were all cliché and a shade of ridiculousness, especially the last two villains the heroes faced. The Magician and the Emperor were both know-it-all megalomaniacs, the same as half of the villains in book 1; try to show a little variety at least. Oh well, watching them receive their comeuppance was no less satisfying so the issue was not a big deal or anything. One thing I did wish for was an explanation for why the evil organization structured itself after tarot cards.

+ the plot

Compared to book 1, the action started a lot earlier and the plot shifted POVs less often, both things I appreciated. The book read like a novella, which I'm still unsure of how to feel about that. On one hand, I liked that things were moving fast because it was a seek and destroy mission; time was of the essence. The suspense was palpable. On the other hand, I hoped for more "meat" because while action was great, it alone didn't satiate me. The experience was akin to drinking a smoothie; it fills your stomach but you still want to eat.

+ the writing

Unlike book 1 where the writing made the story a movie-like experience, in book 2 it felt “normal.” In other words, it took me a couple pages before I finally noticed the writing was in present tense, not in past tense. The writing never made me aware that it was in present tense unless I focused hard. I never thought the writing was an issue in book 1, but I got to say I like the change in book 2.

In Conclusion

I rate Wild Card 3-stars for I liked it. Book 2 was entertaining from start to finish. I look forward to the foreshadowing from Sam's nightmares to come into fruition.

Goodreads | Amazon

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