REVIEW: Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig
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 he’s 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 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.
Dear Chuck Wendig,
I bought this book for two reasons. I have wanted to try your writing for a while, but I usually avoid stories which are marketed as being in the horror genre, and I got an impression that this is what you mainly write. At the same time I enjoy scifi and I enjoy action/adventure, so I decided that a “Star Wars” book would be a better choice for me to sample your writing.
But even more importantly I saw the mention of your book on File 770, specifically the controversy over those reviews which were, amongst other things, not happy with the book’s gay protagonist and I thought – *sign me up*. Of course I had to go read those reviews on Amazon and yes, I found many along the lines of these “omg, why did the gay need to be explicitly introduced”. Do you know what this “explicit introduction” entailed? The hero telling a woman that he is not into women when she flirted a little bit with him in between them doing other stuff. That’s it. That would be the “in your face, explicit introduction of homosexual agenda” – three or four lines. Oh, and the sister of another female protagonist is married to a woman and they are briefly shown in the story, because they are relevant, and there is the boy in the orphanage who hopes to be adopted. He has a brief memory flash to “both his fathers” being killed. I thought the introduction of LGBT people was extremely well done, personally. Moreover I would love to see more of it, not less, in the next books.
Apparently there was also a controversy about people being unhappy that Disney decided to reboot the franchise and start the story anew. There were a lot of good books written in the original universe and people were unhappy that those stories were not canon anymore. I just want to stress that while I understand how many fans feel, I came to this book without reading a *single* one in the previous expanded universe. I was not interested in those books – I am one of those casual fans of the movies who thought the original movies were epic (still remember watching them in Russian translation in a movie theater back in Ukraine), I also liked the prequels (did not think they were just as epic but certainly liked them). I had nothing to compare this book with; I certainly have no regrets about Disney deciding to start anew.
And now we are coming to the complaint which many reviewers had and I found myself agreeing with it unfortunately – the way this book is written. I have to say that I have not found myself to be as conflicted about a book’s form vs. its substance for a long time. Usually if I am engaged with the story and characters, I forgive a lot. I loved the characters in this book, I loved that there were so many awesome women on the opposite sides of the war. I loved Norra’s and Jas’ bravery and resourcefulness, to me they came out as real people with flaws and good qualities, same as Sinjir and Tesmin. I thought the action was exciting and fun and at the same time war was not glamorized. The view of the war that book seemed to take was very close to how I feel about the war. I did think that so many Interludes were distracting, but I gathered that this is something that the author had to include in the book because of “story people” (not sure if that’s correct, but I took it that the overall continuity of the series is being watched over or something like that), in order to hint at the things that the next Star War movies will bring. So for the most part I enjoyed the “substance” of the story when I was able to read it without hearing, in my mind, the sound that fingernails on the chalkboard make.
I am sure that writing so much of the story in the present tense using fragmented sentences was a deliberate artistic choice on the author’s part and I respect that. The present tense actually worked pretty well for me in this one, because it increased the urgency of what was taking place in the story. However, I have to say that I personally prefer reading a book written in complete sentences, not chopped up. I am downgrading this to the grade you see not just because I did not *like* the style, but because I was wincing/cringing while I was reading it more often than not, Given I had paid so much money (I paid thirteen dollars for this book, although I would have been annoyed even if I paid much less), I was hoping for a much more enjoyable reading experience. I will leave you with a bunch of quotes which I retyped from the book at random which I hope will show you why no matter how much I want to know what happens in the next two books of the trilogy, I most likely will be trying to get it from the library.
“The bounty hunter has been here for some time. Waiting. Barely sleeping. She’s tired. Her muscles ache. But this is the job.”
“Her life is similar. But she knows not to give in to it. Paranoia is a deadly emotion. Deadly for you. But deadly for those around you,too.”
“That thrills her, honestly. It shouldn’t, probably. Bad news is, by its destination, declaratively and objectively bad. But it’s the reaction that matters. People are made under duress. They are formed by crisis.”
Both her hearts beat fast in tandem, outracing the speed with which she can pull the trigger.
They shriek and click and swarm.
A hand at her shoulder – a voice, numb and almost lost underneath the ringing of her ears.
It’s the boy.
“We have to go,” he’s saying. “There’s too many.”
“I can do this!” she roars.
But she can’t. She knows she can’t.
You have to know when to run, girl.
Now is the time to run.”
Occasionally I managed to forget about the sentence structure – when the action sped up (there was almost always action, but some events were of higher speed than others), and when I was very worried about the characters, but the book surely did not let me forget about it for too long.