Lyra Rayne

Ground Zero

Fiction - Science Fiction
410 Pages
Reviewed on 09/17/2019
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Bryan Strickland, a lifelong Coloradoan, is a man of many talents. He writes, draws, paints, and sings. Well, no, he doesn’t really sing; though he loves music and plays violin and guitar. Writing is his passion and focus. He is a storyteller, a creator of worlds, a lover of characters, and a crafter of memorable scenes and vivid descriptions. He is a student and lover of words; particularly those grandiose and archaic.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero is a work of epic science fiction and superhero fantasy penned by author Bryan Strickland. The titular and central character Lyra wants to make a change in the world, and her work battling the ecological problems of energy production seems to be a way to do that. But when an experimental reactor turns deadly, Lyra escapes with her life and a whole new host of abilities to contend with. But being a hero is not automatic because of her powers, and Lyra must learn to control her own fallibilities on a much larger scale if she is to become a force for good rather than destruction.

Author Bryan Strickland has created a truly superb and totally contemporary superhero tale that will engulf cross-genre fans from the sci-fi, military fiction, cli-fi, and LGBTQ+ readerships. Charming and stylish, but also hard-edged and filled with gritty action and adventure, Lyra is a realistic hero in the sense that her humanity is her downfall as much as it is her strength. The commitment to development holds the novel together with a powerful emotive central journey, which is accompanied by an excellent plot that showcases her talents and gives Lyra the chance to rise up during this, her origin story novel. An openly gay and female protagonist gives an authentic contemporary feel to the tale, used here not for gimmicks but as a genuine expression of Lyra’s heart. Overall, Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero is a superb opening to a very promising and exciting science fiction series.

Rayne Millaray

So I'm not super into superhero books (comic or otherwise) as a general rule. I like the movies, and I love the characters. But the stories often embody a lot of patriarchal BS mixed in with narcissistic hero complexes. They tend to paint women as little more than sex objects who exist solely for the male gaze (Wonder Woman was written expressly for that purpose). As a queer woman, I don't really see myself represented in many superhero stories, which are mostly spun in a heteronormative, hypermasculine society. And the fight scenes make my eyes glaze over. I don't have the attention span for them.

Bryan Strickland's Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero steps outside of all that.

Lyra Rayne is an intelligent grad student who enjoys mixed martial arts, partying with her friends, and helping people as much as she can. She stands up for what she believes in and takes no crap she isn't owed.

Lyra works as a research assistant with her mentor, Professor Grant Hill, and his other assistant, Gerald. They're research is focused on an energy source that would eliminate the need for fossil fuels. Their world is like our world, with similar problems and political debates. Their efforts are altruistic: affordable, 100% clean energy for the entire world.

Lyra's also very human. She empathizes with people who aren't like her. She speaks up when she sees people being mistreated. She gets to the lab late more often than not. She makes questionable decisions and beats herself up when they blow up in her face.

And boy, do some of them blow up in her face. My mistakes pale in comparison to some of hers. But then she picks herself up, dusts herself off, and heads back into the fray to fight again. Every single time. Which is part of the beauty of this book, and one of its many life lessons.

Every superhero needs its origin story, and Lyra is no different. One day, the university's lab explodes, Lyra nearly dies trying to save Gerald. When she wakes up the next morning, she's got abilities most people only dream of. After testing her abilities to the limit, she realizes she now has the potential to do so much more good, and off she goes, headstrong and eager.

Bryan Strickland's writing style draws you in, winding tales that force you to confront your worldview. His characters find themselves in situations that leave you wondering what you'd have done. They learn hard lessons, and realize things about themselves that they don't necessarily like, and figure out how to keep moving forward because the only way out is through. And in the end, they come out better for it.

I didn't realize how much I needed this book.

The situations in which Lyra finds herself are harrowing. The science she works with is intriguing. The fight scenes even kept me on the edge of my seat. But Lyra's humanity is what hooked me. Her determination and gumption are what will have me waiting with bated breath for the next book.