Continuing the Journey to The Force Awakens: A Review of Aftermath

One of the perks of being a librarian: you can make “suggestions” as to what is ordered for the collection. As long as you can get enough people to agree with you and have enough circulations to support it, you’re golden.

I pulled that card for the new Star Wars novels, knowing that there would be just enough hype to warrant it. . .with the added bonus of not having to buy yet another set of books when my money is tied elsewhere (i.e. blacksmithing).

Star Wars: Aftermath arrived just as I returned Lost Stars, making the timing a little too perfect to not want to pick it up and get started on reading it.

Oh, how I should have listened to the reviews. . .

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==The Pitch==

This book is set to take place some time after the Battle of Endor (I don’t think a specific time is mentioned, actually; I’d calculate a little more than a year after Endor due to the timing in Lost Stars).

==What You Get==

Picking this up will net you a hardcover book weighing in at nearly 400 pages of story. It jumps right in with telling the story without much preamble. We get some signs of how the galaxy is looking after the Battle of Endor. We get a general idea of the shape of the New Republic and the Empire, which give ideas of what to expect from the new films.

This is the first book that focuses on events that occur after the Battle of Endor, so we are now entering new canon territory.

==The Good==

Outside of the aforementioned insight as to what is happening in the universe, there isn’t a lot of good stuff in this book, but there are a few things.

Some people loved seeing one of the first official homosexual character in the Star Wars Canon (see below for my thoughts): Sinjir Rath Velus. The character openly admits to it later in the book, with one minor hint early one (describing a man as “beautiful”). Hurray inclusion!

Throughout the book, we get random “interludes” in the action that show events elsewhere on other planets, like the discussions of the creation of the new Galactic Senate on Chandrilla, or slaves trying to escape on a backwater spice world. These are well paced and well executed; it reminded me of how nice it would be to see a collection of short stories (actual short stories, not novellas) with this new canon.

There’s a part at the end of the book that may introduce a fan-favorite character from the Expanded Universe (Legends), but there are no details beyond the music they were listening to. This may also lead to that character finally showing up in film, which would also be an amazing sight to see, but I won’t hold my breath on that,

==The Bad==

The narrative: it’s short. Very short. It’s as though it’s being scribed. Scribed by someone without eloquence. Spoken by someone who likes short sentences–William Shatner type short. Christopher Walken-esque pauses. (With almost Faulknerarian long asides in parenthesis that attempt to elaborate on near-useless details that have little to do with the overall narrative or what is occurring at the time).

The above is an example of the writing. It is sloppy, uninspired, and arguably juvenile prose that would be expected from a young college student beginning his career, not from someone who was a publication list as long as Wendig’s. As my first foray into his work, I doubt I will be picking up another one.

One part of the Star Wars Universe that I loved was character portrayal. We can see and feel for the characters, pick up one speech patterns, and feel like some old friends are making appearances. Instead, everyone speaks in the same halting manner as the narrative (with few exceptions, but the pattern break doesn’t last long), making it difficult to know who is speaking until you see that character’s name, especially in the middle of the book when you have up to six characters crammed in the same room.

Character appearances also feel shoehorned in, like they were added just to add credibility to it being a Star Wars novel. The only returning character that wasn’t shoehorned into the main storyline was Rae Sloane, who made her debut in A New Dawn. Otherwise, the other appearances feel forced, slightly out of character, and odd.
Han Solo makes an appearance, and it is rather fitting for the character, which makes me wonder what happened with the rest of the book (or were these inserts written by someone else).

There is also the inclusion of a LGBT couple into Star Wars Canon, but that also felt like it was added-in, either to attract attention to the title or for something far bigger that we don’t know yet (my bet: attention). Outside of Sinjir (which we just get a random admittance and little else), we see that Temmin’s aunts are a homosexual couple, and one orphan has flashbacks of his two fathers dying. Inclusion is a wonderful thing, but this feels like it was just bolted on wherever it could be to increase attention and/or sales.

This is the first book of a trilogy. That alone is frightening with the degree of atrocious writing.

==The Verdict==

Honestly, even if you are a Star Wars fan and are hyped about the films, you may want to avoid this. I’m a die-hard fan, and I wanted to quit reading this on multiple occasions, but powered through it to the end to give you this review.

I cannot make this a suggestion for anyone. Unless the characters and events here are going to play a big part in Episode VII, I’d say save your money and only read it if you are curious or a real die-hard fan.

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