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Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hardcover – September 4, 2015
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“Star Wars: Aftermath [reveals] what happened after the events of 1983’s Return of the Jedi. It turns out, there’s more than just the Empire for the good guys to worry about.”—The Hollywood Reporter
“The Force is strong with Star Wars: Aftermath.”—Alternative Nation
“The Star Wars universe is fresh and new again, and just as rich and mysterious as it always was.”—Den of Geek
“[Chuck] Wendig neatly captures the current states of the Empire and Rebel Alliance and does so through flawed, real, and nuanced characters. His writing gets you up close and personal. . . . Wendig does wonders with dialogue and voice and carving out space for everyone to breathe. Aftermath is a strong foot forward into unexplored territory and puts down just enough foundation that you can start picturing the Resistance and First Order of The Force Awakens taking shape.”—Nerdist
“If the opening chapter of the Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy is any indication, the ‘Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ will be every bit as exciting as the movie.”—New York Daily News
“A wonderful Star Wars adventure by a gifted author.”—SF Book Reviews
About the Author
Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He’s the author of many novels, including Blackbirds, Atlanta Burns, Zer0es, and the YA Heartland series. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, son, and red dog.
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This one, I could not finish. At first I thought I just needed to adjust to the author's style, but after slogging past halfway there was no improvement.
I couldn't find the characters likable or intriguing. They seemed to have simple motivations and would act on them with no subtlety at all. Overhear someone in your rebel-aligned group confess they had been an Imperial officer at Endor? Charge into the room and throttle them! Even non-original characters are affected. Every scene with Admiral Ackbar seems to be there so he can advise caution and worry about things being traps.
Every few pages I would hit something that completely smashed my suspension of disbelief causing me to have to look away from the page and take a break. Things like:
-An asteroid field setting which apparently was once a comet in the Outer Rim of the galaxy. This comet was on course to destroy multiple Core region worlds, until a large number of Jedi gave their lives and/or sanity breaking it apart with the Force to save the day. Does the author know what a comet is?
-Several of the main characters escaping from a mixed mob of stormtroopers and criminal gangsters in a bar alley. One arrives with a getaway hover bike and all but one fit on. The solution for the last character? Grab some chain, tie it to the body of an alien they had just shot, and surf along the street to freedom and safety.
-A main character's inner monologue is wondering why they have to be so involved with the Rebellion, and can't just be peaceful like the Bith couple they are watching on a nearby rooftop. Immediately a TIE flies overhead and the couple angrily wave fists and yell, futilely shooting blaster-fire at the fighter.
These kinds of facepalm-inducing plot points made it impossible to believe or stay immersed in the story. Between that and how simple-minded the characters were, it felt like I was listening to a tabletop roleplay session, where the GM and the players are all black-out drunk and I was stuck as the designated driver. Wookiepedia lists a factoid saying Wendig wrote this book in under 45 days, and it really, really shows.
My recommendation: Don't let this be your first, and maybe therefore last :( , Star Wars book. Don't let the bestseller status mislead you. This was supposed to be the new "What happens after Return of the Jedi?" book. Any book in that position would sell well, even if it were written by a cat with a pen name walking on a keyboard. I checked this book out from the library, and am glad I did not buy it. If you want to enjoy reading a Star Wars book, this is probably not the one. I've put some favorites below, and any of those would serve you well. Lost Stars and Tarkin are in the new canon while the rest are in the old Expanded Universe.
Heir to the Empire
Dark Force Rising
The Last Command
Specter of the Past
Vision of the Future
Path of Destruction
Rule of Two
Dynasty of Evil
Champions of the Force
Things I liked:
- Yay! New post-ROTJ stories leading up to "The Force Awakens"! Cool!
- Admiral Sloane. The first real link between the time period depicted in the "Rebels" TV series (and the "A New Dawn" novel) and the post-ROTJ continuity. Plus, she's a pretty well-rounded character. Unlike most of the rest in this book.
- The Interludes. Honestly, I would've liked a book with just a bunch of short stories on all these planets dealing with the...uhhhh...aftermath of the destruction of the second Death Star. That would've been much more compelling than the small story we got here.
- A reference to "Fulcrum." Interesting.
- The last third of the book (roughly). Once the action started picking up I found myself much more eager to find out what happened.
Things about which I was indifferent:
- All of the previous post-ROTJ continuity built up over the past 25 years is out the window. Meh. Trying to follow all of that would've put everybody in a bind, so I can't blame Disney for that decision.
- The present tense narrative style. Not my cup of blue milk (more on that later). That doesn't make it bad writing, just a style for which I don't care. Did make it a little bit more difficult to read, but wasn't a show-stopper.
- ANY of the characters besides Sloane. Although I guess that should be a negative.
Things I didn't like:
- Way too many idioms, metaphors, and terms from our world when a Star Wars term could've been used instead. Inhabitants of the Star Wars universe don't say, "Cup of tea," they would probably say, "Cup of blue milk" or something like that. A special ops guy in trouble wouldn't use words like "pigeon" and "falcon," he'd use "myknock" and "hawkbat." Would somebody in Star Wars say, "Spit in the eye of the giant," or would it be, "rancor" or even, "pull the tail of the gundark"? These are the sorts of things that separate a Star Wars story from any other story.
- Is Nora alive or dead? I didn't care the first time, so I really didn't care the fourth or fifth time (I lost count).
- A supposed professional combat pilot for the Rebel Alliance didn't know that a TIE fighter had an ejector seat. Oh, and an ejection mechanism isn't placed to where it can be randomly activated by accident. THAT is lazy writing.
- Shallow characters with little depth or background. Pretty clichéd, too. The end of the book implied further adventures with this crew. Not excited about that prospect.
- The first two thirds of the book with the incessant introspection and interpersonal conflict between mom and son, bounty hunter and former Imperial, Sloane (JUST SHOOT THEM) and the tired stereotypical members of the council, and the insipid Mr. Bones.
- Admiral Ackbar and Wedge Antilles. These two (along with the other, even briefer Original Trilogy character appearances) felt shoehorned in. Didn't add much to the story, although with the new continuity there at least is an element of "they might not survive." Yeah, I'm sure they were setups for future books.
Things which offended me on a personal level:
- Wait for it...wait for it...WRONG!!! Nope, not what you're thinking. What offended me was the use of the word "hale" to identify the pieces of ice present inside a thunderstorm. As a weatherman for over 20 years, well, my eyes are still rolling. It's spelled "hail." THAT, more than anything else, took me right out of the story. :-)