Lyra Rayne’s greatest desire is to help. In big ways and the small, she just wants to help those in need. Through the altruistic ventures of her mentor, Dr. Grant Hill, and his vision for a clean, free energy source, Lyra found a way to help make the world a better place. That is, until the experimental reactor erupts into a scintillating wave of Exotic Particle Radiation that destroys their lab, and nearly kills Lyra in the process.
Miraculously surviving the blast, Lyra undergoes traumatic changes that alter her physiology, right down to her DNA. Through this exposure, Lyra discovers that she has gained the supernatural ability to effect far greater change. Donning the mantle of a helpful heroine, Lyra puts herself in harms way to save the innocent. However, she quickly discovers that having superhuman powers does not reconcile human fallibility, and even one critical mistake can have devastating consequences.
Faced with the cost of her attempted heroics, she suffers doubt and guilt over the blood of those she failed to save. As she struggles with the consequences of her choices, the city comes under threat from another, more powerful enhanced being. Lyra must face her fears and failings in order to stand against the rising tide of rage and vengeance that threatens the city and its inhabitants, or risk losing everything in the epic conflict to come.
With Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero Strickland gives us a superhero we can take home to meet our mother. Yes, a female character, and one you will love. This is the first book in what promises to be an abundant series, introducing the hero and giving us her origin story.
The book explores the question what happens when someone is suddenly given great powers. Do they relish the moment? Do they embrace the godly gift? Do they freak out, wishing it had never happened? Do they regret the choices that led to this event, knowing their life has changed forever?
In Lyra’s case, all of the above seem to be the answer. Our heroine goes through a roller-coaster of emotions about her new powers and their implications. Implications such as how to best put such powers to use. Endowed with a protective nature, Lyra, by default, assumes the role of helper to others, but learns early on that things can backfire on you even when you have the best of intentions. Power is a double-edged sword she is learning to wield, sometimes in clumsy, dangerous fashion. And even as she is struggling to master her new powers an adversary arises with none of the qualms of conscience our heroine has. Their titanic struggle makes for one hellova thrill ride.
This book has all the trappings of a Hollywood blockbuster. The acute sensory detail put us front and center in an intense, cinematic experience. One can easily see this book made into a feature length film and it’s easy to imagine casting directors drooling at such an opportunity. Mentally casting the film offers nearly as much enjoyment as reading the story itself. And not to neglect the love story.
Strickland tosses a compelling and believable romance into the mix, with a timely twist of its own. You will find yourself cheering not just for Lyra, but for Lyra’s special someone. (Face it: it ain’t easy having a superhero for a girlfriend!) Surely a good deal of Lyra’s appeal is that that her superpowers do not make her any less vulnerable emotionally.
Strickland sets us up beautifully for a sequel. Just as one crisis gets settled, another shadowy problem arrives to take its place. We are left screaming for the next chapter. Please don’t make us wait too long, Bryan! (There’s also a number of other non-Lyra works in development mentioned on his website; we soon could see multiple series’ issuing from the same pen.)
All in all, a superb first novel. Strickland’s very human characters, dramatic pacing and timing of plot elements keeps us engaged from cover to cover and he leaves us with the assurance that there is plenty more where that came from.
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.
Lyra Rayne: Ground Zero is now live and available on Amazon.com! Both Kindle exclusive E-Book and Paperback versions are available. Get your copies today!