Series: Journey to The Force Awakens
Genre: Science fiction
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital
Release date: September 10th 2015
This edition: Kindle
The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.
Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.
And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…
I suppose the first thing I ought to say before I get into this review, because it’s certainly relevant to what I want to say about this book, is that I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Wars as the gestalt geek entity that it is today. No, bear with me – it gets better…
I enjoy the original story; don’t get me wrong. Good vs. Evil, rebellion in space, mystical powers and lightsabers going together like the most spectacular tea and biscuits = all good! But this is a story that first made its mark before my time. It certainly had a lot of successful steam built up before I ever discovered my own true geeky side, and by then I had genre loves of my own. Star Wars was cool, but it wasn’t my everything.
Until very recently, I hadn’t really bothered to examine why I might not have fallen very hard in love with it. Retrospect could provide plenty of reasons – fans may love this universe to death, but that doesn’t mean it’s flawless, after all. At the end of the day though, original trilogy aside, I suspect it was just a case of oversaturation. Star Wars was (is) everywhere, and I’m still that easily distractible soul; I didn’t know where to start, and didn’t particularly care enough to try to figure it out. Meanwhile, I’ve got all these other books to read…
Cut to September of this year, and Chuck Wendig is changing my mind after years of maintaining this largely underwhelmed outlook. Nobody is more surprised than I am about this, believe me. Then again, when it comes to provoking surprising levels of strong reaction with his work, I think I can safely say that Chuck is today’s go-to writer. His books are generally not for fence-sitters of any stripe – you’ll either love his style or hate it.
This reader f***ing loves it. Now admittedly, when it comes to the books he’s written, I love some more than others. This will always be the way of it, but I’ve read enough of his work to see a pretty interesting growth take place. There’s a strengthening maturity in his progression with every new output, and Aftermath is certainly not a debut effort in that sense. I offer this as a reassurance to anybody who might be wary of reading it; if a fresh perspective and a safe pair of hands are what you want this universe to be in, then you’re all set. Wendig is clearly a fan of his source material, and he’s not only handling this story with care, he’s having a ball doing it. Therefore I had a marvellous time reading it.
Not least of the reasons for that were his characters. You’ve probably heard all the “true fan” outrage over Wendig’s diversifying of the cast here, but really, who does this hurt? Personally speaking, I am thrilled to pieces to see this interesting world populated by more of the people who live in this one. Leia’s not alone in being the badass anymore, for one thing. And it doesn’t stop with the numerous capable – and dangerous – women who are present and accounted for in this story, either.
I mean, Mister Bones. MISTER BONES.
If I had been worried (and I was, a little) that playing in such a well-established sandbox as the Star Wars universe might tie Wendig’s hands somewhat, stylistically speaking, Mister Bones puts that quibble to bed. Hard. Star Wars might be somebody else’s franchise but that rattling motherf***er is one hundred percent Wendig. He’s also probably my favourite thing about the whole book. HE PERFORMS VIOLENCE. He delights me, plain and simple.
And then there’s That Cameo, because I may not be a walking SW encyclopedia but even I know that name. Put all of this together with That Movie Trailer and this whole thing is coming perilously close to getting a squee out of me. It’s in here somewhere, I can feel it!
So, yeah. I loved this story, and I am definitely buying the next one (and a movie ticket).
If I have any quibbles (and I’d hesitate to call this one), it’s that I did occasionally find myself pausing over a casual mention of some critter or piece of tech and wondering what the heck that was. Bearing in mind that I haven’t been immersing myself in this world and everything in it for twenty years, it’s perhaps become a fact that got underfoot for me when it came to sinking right into that world now…
However! Let’s be fair; the flip side of that “quibble” is that, as I see it, this gives us a book that is written by a Star Wars fan for Star Wars fans, and yet still manages to hold the door open for a new wave of fans who might perhaps feel like they haven’t had a seat at the table before. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
So, well done, Chuck. You’re making a modern Star Wars fan out of this stubbornly contrary soul. I hope you’re proud of yourself. I HOPE YOU REALISE WHAT YOU’VE DONE. (No, really, it’s awesome.)
So when is Book 2 coming out…?