The In My Opinion journey into the new chapter of Star Wars continues with Aftermath by Chuck Wendig.
Star Wars: Aftermath is supposed to pick up right after Episode VI and is part of a trilogy that is meant to bridge the gap of misinformation from Episode VI to Episode VII. Though it doesn’t follow many of the main characters from the movie, like Han or Luke or Leia, it has these interludes which serve as little snap shots of what those characters are up to. The main story, however, doesn’t involve any of the characters we’ve all come to know and love. And that, more than anything else, may be why this book has received such poor reviews. Let’s begin, shall we?
PLOT: The story follows lots of POV characters throughout. Some chapters are from Wedge Antillies’ point of view, but you’ve also got Mon Mothma, Han, random aliens on a spice mine, random bounty hunters in desolate bars, an Imperial Admiral, a Zabrak bounty hunter, a human ex-Imperial Loyalty officer, a Rebel pilot and her genius, tinker son. I may have missed one or two random people as well… The story is all over the place, basically. Most of it is settled on or around the planet of Akiva, but it doesn’t stay there long when suddenly you have a single chapter from Mon Mothma’s POV, then a spice mine, then back to Akiva. The story line is: Since it’s right after the second Death Star’s explosion and the Empire’s defeat at the forest moon of Endor, the Empire is kind of in the can at the moment. The highest ranking officials are all going mad for power and scrambling to have the most ships in their fleet so they can take control of what’s left. Some of the more level-headed leaders left to the Empire decide they need to sit down and have a summit of sorts to figure out what’s best for the Empire as a whole. They’re chosen place for a meeting? The planet Akiva. But also on Akiva is a Rebel pilot looking for her son, a drunkard ex-Imperial looking to stick it to his former employers, and a bounty hunter who has been offered a massive sum of credits if she can take down the leaders of the Imperial summit. Que conflict!
The idea of Aftermath is a good one. The Empire coming together to lick their wounds and try to regroup so they can launch an offensive sounds cool, as does the story surrounding the ex-Imperial and the Rebel pilot’s son. But the execution of the story was horrible. The action was superficial and lame, and the emotions that characters attempt to show are really forced and fake. The pacing was slow, the tension far too deliberate, and the random jumping around of POV characters really drew from any suspense created. Meh.
CHARACTERS: Some of these Chuck nails perfectly and really manages to make come to life with real emotion and memories and convincing dialogue. Other characters are blatantly false and forced on the story with poor results. The female Rebel pilot, Norra? Very poorly portrayed. And pretty much any woman in the story that wasn’t a hard-ass warrior was not written well. Each of them was some form of damsel in distress, or damsel soon to be in distress. Most characters, in my opinion, felt generic and not unique to the story. There were some that made me chuckle, and one or two that I actually liked. But as a whole, they were not realistic.
IMAGERY: Most of the novel takes place on the planet Akiva, which Chuck does a good job bringing to life for the reader. One chapter the reader will be in a bustling city that is perfectly described and comes to life in the mind’s eye, the next chapter the reader is in a thick jungle, listening to strange wildlife around them, and feeling the dense, aggressive foliage pressing in. Chuck does a good job with setting and imagery and description. My only complaint is that sometimes he’s a little heavy on the metaphors and uses too many of them. But besides that, thumbs up.
VERDICT: In my opinion, unless the other books in this series are mind blowing, you can make a pass on this novel. It barely progresses the story from Episode VI, and does nothing to build up to Episode VII, besides explaining why there is a crashed Star Destroyer on Jakku. That’s about it. The characters aren’t impressive, the action is quite lame, and there just isn’t that much good about it. I will say that I was happy to read about a Sullustan gangster; that was enjoyable. But besides a handful of cool moments, this book is nothing special, you can skip it. In my opinion.