Aftermath: Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Chuck Wendig is about what happens a few months after Return of the Jedi Battle of Endor.
SPOILERS!!!! CLICK HERE IF YOU DO NOT WANT SPOILERS!!!!
This novel is about what happens to all the characters in Star Wars as they scramble for scraps left in the wake of the second Death Star’s destruction.
The Empire, Emperor and Darth Vader, along with its hierarchies and rule and order by fear tactics is decimated. The Rebel Alliance is rather proud and assured of themselves, that feels it is too often and too soon. The creation of the New Republic that feels unscathed by the ravages of war and continues to fight. The usual criminal scum, love them or hate them, are still around with their devious backroom deals. Ironically, the protagonists made friends with an old Confederacy of Independent Systems battledroid, which is refurbished. As always, the aliens and creatures unique to Star Wars fill this novel.
I gave this book 3 out 5 stars as my opinion on the overall theme and story. Here is why:
The novel is written unconventionally. No Star Wars book I’ve read uses parenthesis and “protagonist’s thoughts” in italics. Most Star Wars books I’ve read are written in the third person, which is not an active voice. This book was written in first and second person and a present tense voice, that shares emotions and worries as told, not shown. Longtime Star Wars fans would have a huge issue with tenses because their “system” or “routine” of Star Wars has always been omniscient. Based on the backlash, it feels like longtime Star Wars fans clasp to their novels like comfort blankies and Chuck Wendig messed with it to clean it or asked them to let it go.
I am a scientist and a very open minded reader because I read scientific articles. I can move past the rapid pacing in this book. For longtime Star Wars fans, exposition is very important. This novel had smatterings of Star Wars Legends continuity cobbled together that felt anachronistic of changes that have evaporated when Disney bought Lucasfilm, Star Wars. The continuity in this novel felt jagged. In the words of John Jackson Miller’s book, “A New Dawn”, the first book released under the Star Wars New Canon, the main antagonist, Count Vidian clearly states, “Forget the old way…” to indicate clearly, fans need a new thinking about the new content.
This novel did not retcon the Legends directly, it overlooked the Legends. This novel did not borrow from the Legends, it avoided it and included themes from prequels and the TV shows, The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Mind you, the novel did not have CLONES in it, nor did it discuss CLONES – a fan favorite. The novel has smidgens of the spice of material unkneaded to the dark side cookie cutters of Essential Guides or Essential Reader’s Companion by Pablo Hidalgo.
This novel FEELS like Chuck Wendig CRAMMED for the test of Star Wars background knowledge and barely passed with a C- grade. While no author or content creator should ever feel the need to have a Ph.D. in Star Wars, the issue with the longtime fans is they have spent decades and millions reading every novel and reference book in Star Wars. They are butthurt over Disney casting Legends to the Sarlacc Pit. They are like the residents of Myrra on Akiva, climbing the walls of the satrap…They are going to murder the satrap and get a few Imperials. They are after the Sullustan crimelord Surat Nuat, too.
My opinion is that, Chuck Wendig could have done better with a bit more Essential Guides reading and speak to more Star Wars writers on his novel proposal. But apparently, just like the Empire, who the true leader this fact doesn’t get revealed until the very end… Did the Empire fade away? Guess what, I won’t spoil that other than to say looking out into the space and beyond is another galaxy.
The reason why I say more Essential Guides are required reading because these books are great Star Wars references. For example, the slang and curses used in this novel do not have a Star Wars feel to it. It feels borrowed from a completely different genre. It feels new. It is as if the slang and pejoratives are homemade concoctions of drinks that Chuck Wendig did craft masterfully. He should write an Essential Guide to Adult Beverages in Star Wars, but that might not go over well with Disney executives. Ironically, I was wondering how Jogan fruit brandy would taste.
While I admired the courage Wendig’s representation of LGBTQIA characters in this book and representation of strong women characters and diverse humans, like Rae Sloane, if Disney Lucasfilm is going to do that as the change, they are going to have to protect us Star Wars fans that welcome these changes. We deserve back up from Disney. We get so much grief from longtime fans that bully and rage against us online. Because I’m older, I fight back and I’m vicious. However, young people do not have my skill sets and if Disney is wants to appeal to a wide range of ages including children, then they need to affirm actively those they plan to make money off of with their full support.
If I were to relate to a character in this novel, I like Jas Esmri, the Zabrak Bounty Hunter. She’s aggressive and goes after what she wants. I also like Rae Sloane, the Imperial Admiral who is Black woman. I’m an African American woman and I am of similar age to Rae, yet, Rae is a villain. A smart villain. Nevertheless she shows her true strength at the end of the book, just like she did in Miller’s “A New Dawn“.
What this book lacks is the mysticism of the Force. The character, Yupe Tashu, a Sith cultist – a human that lacks the Force, but worships Sith – adds ideas of the lore of the dark side of the Force. However, the book did not have ANY major FORCE use in it or lightsabers battles. I get why Wendig wrote the story that way, or was told to write it that way, but longtime Star Wars fans have bathed in massive lightsaber battles for 20 years and that’s STAR WARS to them. My opinion is I am an Original Trilogy fan. If you look at the OT movies and read the books, especially AC Crispin’s Han Solo Trilogy, and the early Marvel Comics and Ominbus‘, then there are only 2-3 lightsabering activities happening in them.
I think, what is going on is Disney master puppeteering these new books to advertise The Force Awakens movie, which will be on the vein that Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. If that is the gameplan, then it is time for Disney to enunciate and sell the idea that they will honor the Original Trilogy versus other timelines.
I say this because the drama that has unfolded and hate hurled at Wendig by raging longtime Star Wars fans as if they had petulant tantrums like little boys whose mothers placed them in timeouts. These same crybabies tattle to a crimelord that will cut their tongue out despite copping a plea deal to sellout his crew, like the character, Temmin, in this book. Whether these longtime Star Wars fans read the entire book to this plot point. I doubt longtime Star Wars fans that hated this book got to this plot point because the negative tagging on Amazon’s Kindle appears to slack off around the “Interlude: Hyperspace” – a critical tidbit to understand Wendig’s style of writing. This plot point is very important to the Star Wars story, and once I read the milieu of the writing style, I could give the novel 3-stars out of 5.
Overall, I would recommend this book to novice open-minded Star Wars fans. I cannot say I’d recommend the book to children under 18 due to the different lifestyles that some parents (the bigoted fans that have hurled epithets toward me) at this time.
For sure, I have been under the blade of some RACIST, SEXIST AND BIGOTED LONGTIME STAR WARS FANS. That is not fandom. I get the feeling that Disney Lucasfilm is trying to change it. But this is where their LEADERSHIP says, “NO MORE. We’re going to be better than small minds and this is how we’re going to do it.” Much like the part in the novel that includes Pantoreans for the future planning of the New Republic. In my opinion, that would have been nice to see more of those ideas in this story.
The other thing is I roleplay (RP) perform on large format social media. Since I can’t recommend this book to kids without parental consent, and that most longtime fans have issues with being open-minded and welcoming of new content added to the matrix, I cannot get serious people to perform the new characters in THE FORCE AWAKENS they see the movie, which will be after 2 AM on December 18th.
The Star Wars Actors Guild 77 takes their RP performances seriously. RP performance take rehearsals, training and a lot of reading both in universe and outside universe. What will happen is the RP, all the TFA characters will be overpowered and troped.
They will not be sly, logical or tough to make the collective impetus to work. They will not be like Norra Wexley, the mother protagonist in the novel who sacrificed being a mother to her son Temmin because her husband disappeared (or died) at the hands of the Empire. She fights back with the Rebel Alliance in the barrel battle with the Second Death Star. Norra Wexley is a badass pilot and I like her, but don’t relate to her as I’m not a mother, but that’s the beauty of her. The most beautiful part of her as a character in this novel.
The RPers will trope TFA character – Rey – as a pretty princess, “damsel in distress”. If anything, Norra Wexley is our closest understanding of Rey (they have no direct relation at this time).
The last part, the Force and it’s use. Not much of it in this book. But if the hater longtime Star Wars fans read “Splinter of the Mind’s Eye” by Alan Dean Foster, there isn’t that much Force use in there, even with Darth Vader’s presence. Moreover, there isn’t a lot of Force use in “Shatterpoint” by Matthew Stover. And if one really thinks about it, the Yuuzhan Vong were absent Force in the New Jedi Order from Legends. I tell everyone I love the Yuuzhan Vong. Living in this universe with or without the Force or Force use should not be the SOLE REASON to sell Star Wars stories. I think these longtime hater Star Wars fans do not get that concept.
That’s my review.