Star Wars: Aftermath – I hope the movie is better than the book!

After all the hype surrounding this book including marketing campaigns and ads all over the place, I was convinced this book would be THE Star Wars book of the year. Promised to introduce and prepare the reader for the future of the Star Wars Galaxy in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it left me in fear for the movie!

Aftermath (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down-—devastating blows against the Empire, and major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but is taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former Rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on the Norra and her newfound allies—her technical genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Sounds pretty epic right? Well, it was definitely not what I was expecting…

First of all, the galaxy a long time ago and far, far away is actually right here right now. The book is told in third person present tense. ‘She picked up the book. Turned to the first page. A quote as an Epigraph! How exciting. From Admiral Ackbar – Okay, that’s cool. A prologue! Okay – she can handle this. And a prelude? Wait – what? She shook her head. It had to get better – Right?’

At just over 350 pages, this has been the only Star Wars book I have ever considered not finishing. But my rule has always been “Can’t review it, unless you have read it all”. So I wibble-wobbled through the text and herkily-jerkily slammed my head against my tablet when it got too much to handle.

My favorite parts have to be the ‘interludes’. There’s 15 of them spaced throughout the 38 chapters (bringing the book to a whopping  43 chapters). They take place throughout the Star Wars Galaxy and really do provide a glimpse into how the Galaxy is reacting to the destruction of the Death Star (needless to say, it’s causing some problems).

There are four ‘parts’ to this book, but it just feels like it’s tossed in there to give you a break. There’s no changes in pace, plot, setting or even the mindset of the characters.

The author tries desperately to either assert his knowledge of the universe, or make his book feel like it belongs there. I can’t actually decide which one.The similes and metaphors seems to be derived from our world, but twisted and warped to match the universe. For example, a reference is made to ‘not selling your children to work in the same mine’. It took me a little bit, but I finally figured it probably meant something along the lines of ‘don’t put your eggs in one basket’.

Hamsters are mentioned, but every other animal (or plant maybe, he doesn’t really differentiate) gets only a name and an action, leaving you totally confused about what it is the characters are talking to, be attacked by or whatever they’re doing now. How big? Do they have teeth? There’s lots of creatures with teeth and bones hanging from their bodies (a droid even), but description is minimal or non-existent.

The characters were two-dimensional, and there were just too many that were similar to keep track of! Honestly, some characters seemed to be duplicates of characters already established. (Temmin especially seemed to be just like Ezra Bridger from the Star Wars: Rebels TV show.)

Our favorite heroes don’t get nearly enough page time. Wedge is a plot point/catalyst who never really did anything. One of the interludes had Han and Chewie, and a flashback mentioned Leia. Luke only got a mention in one of the final chapters. Mon Mothma and Ackbar did get a fair ammount of time in the book, and they actually seemed to have a purpose, which made me happy.

The plot is convoluted, drawn out much more than it needs to be, and I agree with so many other reviewers who think it would be better as a collection of short stories.  There’s an Imperial meeting going on, but they don’t seem to care much about it until the last part of the book.

This book was supposedly written in less than a month. The Author requested to write a Star Wars novel in a tweet to the company. I’m sure this author has some great books out there, but this is not one of them. It felt NOTHING like a Star Wars novel, and in fact, there were several places where I felt it would be better as a book set in another galaxy or world other than Star Wars. That might have been better for both the story, and the fans.

I only recommend this book to the truly dedicated Star Wars Fans, and to them, I suggest you just read the interludes. You can easily read the full summary on a website such as wookiepedia and not have to read the actual book.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW THIS POINT!

The one thing that drove me absolutely insane was the number of times characters were declared dead, shown dead, believed dead, or put in situations where they really should end up dead. And then in the next scene, they’re alive. WHAT? REALLY? I felt cheated and misled. I was so angry at one point (this happens three times in about four chapters) that I had to put the book down. I have never felt angry reading a book. Until this one.

END OF SPOILERS

AUTHOR: Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and game designer. He’s the author of many published novels, including but not limited to: Blackbirds, The Blue Blazes, and the YA Heartland series. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Wendig has contributed over two million words to the game industry. He is also well known for his profane-yet-practical advice to writers, which he dispenses at his blog, terribleminds.com, and through several popular e-books, including The Kick-Ass Writer, published by Writers Digest. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, tiny human, and red dog. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/

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