It’s been more than ten years since the last Star Wars movie was released. Anticipation for the next installment, The Force Awakens, is unlike anything I can remember since, well, since Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith hit theaters in 2005.
In a lot of ways, the lead up to The Force Awakens is to adults what the final Harry Potter movie was to teens. At least that’s true in my home with my teens, who went absolutely nuts for Harry and all his Hogwarts adventures.
Count me among the believers that it’s completely healthy for adults, like kids at times, to embrace something bigger (and sillier) than themselves. Full disclosure, I have a very expensive collectors edition Mace Windu replica lightsaber.
So, yeah, I really like Star Wars. And of course, I really like a good thriller novel. Thus when I heard about Aftermath, I figured it was right up my ally.
First of all, to avoid confusion, let me explain when Aftermath takes place in the chronological timeline of the Star Wars universe.
If you think back to what is now called Episode VI, but better known as Return of the Jedi, you’ll remember it ends with Luke Skywalker leading the Rebel Alliance to a critical victory over the Empire during a battle, most of which was fought on the planet of Endor. Aftermath takes place after that, dealing with the fallout of those events, hence the title.
You’d think that with the Emperor dead, the Rebel Alliance would have nothing to worry about. However, if you did think that, you’d be wrong. As it turns out, a large number of Imperial Star Destroyers are gathering on Akiva.
Akiva is a remote planet that Wedge Antilles, the famed pilot and member of the elite Rogue Squadron, happened to come across during a recon mission. Before he can notify leaders of the Alliance, now called the New Republic, of the looming threat, Wedge is captured.
If you’re still racking your brains trying to remember who Wedge is, he was one of the pilots that flew alongside Luke Skywalker as part of the Red Squadron when they destroyed the first Death Star. If that doesn’t ring a bell I’m afraid I can’t help you, you’ll just have to Google him.
Back to the story…
So Wedge is captured, but not before he’s able to send out a secret distress signal.
Norra Wexley, a former resistance fighter, has just moved back to her home planet, Akiva. Her goal is to rekindle a relationship with her estranged, bounty hunter son. Unfortunately for her, though, things don’t go as planned.
While trying to get her life back together, Wexley inadvertently intercepts Wedge’s distress signal. From there the story follows her as she assembles a small group of fighters to take on and defeat the Empire once and for all.
Aftermath is part of the “new canon” that’s been created by the powers that be at Disney since they bought Lucsfilm (which brought with it the rights to the Star Wars universe) for $4 Billion in 2012.
If you weren’t already aware, dozens and dozens of books, short stories, video games and comics have been circulating for decades, all designed to fill in the gaps of the expansive Star Wars universe. Disney, though, essentially erased it all and started over. Why? Because if they hadn’t, they would have been tied down and extremely limited in their ability to tell additional Star Wars stories.
Rather than make a movie about one of the books that was already written, taking place after the original film trilogy, Disney wanted to create their own stories. Their own characters. Their own everything…
The downside, of course, was how many people had invested in the old canon , or the old content and stories.
I’ll admit that I’d dabbled in some of the Star Wars novels, but I was never a huge fan of them. So for me personally, I didn’t care one bit when Disney wiped it all away. Instead, I felt relieved that I could now jump in and follow it all from the (new) beginning.
It’s for that very reason that I highly recommend reading this novel if you’re a fan of Star Wars. The old canon was so vast that it became nearly impossible for newcomers to know where to jump in and start following along. In that regard, Disney offered the perfect solution by resetting it all and creating a new starting point.
What’s to like
The characters are fun. I like that in using Wedge, readers have a character they can visualize from the movies. That was brilliant, as it made him seem and feel real. You care about him just enough thanks to his cinematic heroics, that you don’t want him to die in the book.
The other characters are well developed, especially Wexley. I liked her a lot and felt she embodied the typical Star Wars hero, going from underdog to respected leader. I look forward to learning more about her in the future.
What’s not to like
Aftermath is the first book in a new trilogy, and while it wasn’t great, I can’t make any huge complaints. To be honest, my biggest gripe isn’t even with the story. It’s with the author’s writing style and overuse of one of my favorite punctuation marks – the hyphen. (See what I did there?)
You’re complaining about hyphens, really? Yeah, and trust me – you will notice it too. I promise – it’s literally impossible not to notice – and it does become a little annoying. And when I say it’s overused – I mean it’s really, really overused.
If you’re able to overlook the excessive hyphens (which is easily used ten times more than any book I’ve ever read) and you enjoy Star Wars, then I can’t see a single reason why you wouldn’t like this book. Sure, it gets a little cliche at times, but it’s freaking Star Wars. And most importantly, when you read it, it feel like Star Wars.
Wrapping it up
Well, I can’t believe I made it all the way thought this review without saying “may the force be with you” or “in a galaxy far, far away,” or without typing a sentence in Yoda speak… Harder than it looked, was it!
(okay, I almost made it the entire review without typing in Yoda speak!)
Author: Chuck Wendig
Pages: 400 (hardcover)
Release Date: September 4, 2015. GET IT NOW!