Sunday, September 6, 2015

Star Wars Aftermath Book Review: Epilogue gave me Goosebumps


I built up Aftermath to giant proportions before it was released. I wanted it to be an epic novel about the immediate repercussions of the Emperor's death and the destruction of the second Death Star.  The actual result is a solid installment in the new cannon. It was unrealistic to heap so much hype on the novel, but it is the first step in the journey to The Force Awakens.  Aftermath has some flaws, but it is an enjoyable story with a cast of characters that grow on you by the end of the novel. I listened to the audio version of the novel and had to force myself to get through the first half of the book. Once the book hits the halfway point it picks up and the ending is satisfying. I didn’t get everything I wanted out of Aftermath, but it is worth reading if you are fan of Star Wars books.
The story starts out with Wedge Antilles scouting systems for Imperial remnants. He soon finds what he is looking for and is captured. The Imperials have to keep Wedge and other Rebels from finding out they are at the planet, Akiva. The major leaders left in the Empire are holding a summit to reorganize and fight back against the New Republic. Wedge is able to get a message out to another Rebel, Norra, who works to try and save him and get the message back to the Republic. Bare bones of the plot. The Imperials are having a meeting, and they don’t want the New Republic to find out about it. The heroes need to break out Wedge and alert the New Republic.
The issue with Aftermath is it takes half the novel for the plot to get any traction and advance. It takes this long for our band of heroes to assemble and figure out what they are actually going to do. I felt their where too many new characters at the start of the novel, and it was hard to relate and get behind them. This is mainly due to the weird interludes spread throughout the novel. After a certain number of chapters we get interludes completely unrelated to the main story of the novel. I get why they are in the novel. We are seeing the “Aftermath’ of the war between the Rebellion and the Empire. They are interesting, but would have been better served as part of an anthology series, in which each of these chapters is developed into an actual story with a conclusion. Another idea would have been to just have one story in the interludes, instead of six or seven random ones. I liked many of the interludes, and hope we finish many of these stories either in the next Aftermath book, or in a true anthology novel.  However with these interludes is was hard to get behind many of our new characters. One last thought on the interludes, have our big three, Han, Leia, and Luke be the focus of them. This way the interludes have characters which stand out and are juxtaposed against all the new heroes introduced.
All the main characters are new. Wedge is the only character we have seen in the movies, and his role is minor. By introducing all new characters it was a bit hard to keep them straight with the interludes in between the main chapters.  The author would also put the characters in a complete new place from where we last saw them. He wouldn’t give an explanation of how the character got to the new place from where we last saw them and it added confusion. I found myself constantly rewinding to see if I missed something, which I hadn’t. Once our main characters meet up, the story becomes easier to track, and it is when I started enjoying the novel.
The characters introduced are also a minor issue. I didn’t relate to Temmin who has the biggest arch in the novel. His mom, Norra, is a Rebel hero and just helped destroy the second death star. She went off to fight for the Rebellion against the Empire after her husband was arrested. Temmin resents his mom for leaving, and doesn’t want to leave his current home. Understandable teenage angst, but just not the type of character I related too. He did grow during the story, but was not someone I enjoyed reading about. I did like the bounty hunter Jas. She is the typical rouge bad ass with a heart of gold. She stands out in the story and so does Sinjr the former Imperial loyalty officer.  Sinjr is lost after the Battle of Endor and this adventure gives his life purpose once again. The way all of these individuals team up is a bit ludicrous and too coincidental for my liking, but once they do the climax to the story is satisfying(Insert lewd joke here).
Our team of unlikely heroes is up against the Imperial Admiral Rae Sloan. This is Sloan’s second appearance in the new Star Wars canon books. She was a Star Destroyer captain in Star Wars: A New Dawn. She is one of the highest ranking Imperials left, and has access to the last Super Star Destroyer.  She is a cunning villain, and is someone who truly believes in the Empire. She fights hard for her beliefs and has worked hard for the Imperial summit to succeed. Sloan does an admiral job of trying to keep things together as the situation deteriorates around her. She is not a sympathetic villain, but she is also not someone who you immediately despise.
Once the main events of the novel comes to a conclusion the epilogue left me giddy and excited for the next book. A person is revealed who could very well be a major old expanded universe character. No names were used for this individual in the epilogue, but if you have read the old books you can guess who this person probably is. If this character is not who I think it is I will be disappointed, but I don’t know who else it could be.  It gives me great hope for the next installment of the trilogy. The interludes, while detracting from the start of the story, also introduced exciting tidbits about the universe after the Battle of Endor. The Han and Chewie interlude was the best followed closely by the scene on Taris. The interludes did a great job of opening up questions that need to be answered.
While Aftermath didn’t live up to my vaulted expectations, it is still a solid installment into the new Star Wars canon. The first part of the novel is a slog, but it pays off in a major way by the end. With the epilogue I already have high hopes for the second installment. Maybe I shouldn’t with some of the characters and choices during this story. Without the need for introductions to our characters the next book can hit the ground running. Aftermath stumbles a bit as the first step to Star Wars: A Force Awakens, but our journey isn’t off the rails.
My Rating: Worth reading if you like Star Wars books.

Have the negative reviews of Aftermath scared you off? If you have read it what did you think? Did Temmin annoy you as much as me? Did you like Sinjr and Jas? Did you think the way they met up was too coincidental? Am I asking enough questions? Final one, Who do you think the character in the epilogue was? 

2 comments:

  1. If you are thinking it was Thawn in the epilogue (and I think you are), could it not also be our first siting of supreme leader Snokes? As much as I think a reappearance of thawn would be cool, I think they will keep away from the old EU characters and stick to the new from now on. But who knows...? It's certainly got me interested for the book!

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    1. Yep I was thinking it was Thrawn, or a very Thrawn like character. I agree with staying away from some of the old EU, but I think it would be smart to include at least similar characters since some were well done. I'm thinking Snoke will be the leader of the Knights of Ren, and maybe be a bit separated from the Empire. Maybe a precursor of General Hux though. I'm already seeing a similarity to Admiral Sloan and Captain Pellaeon. Book has some interesting tidbits, just have to get through the first part to enjoy it.

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