The Force Awakens can't get here fast enough. Hopefully it's better than this book.
Shortly after Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, the LucasFilm Story Group was created to help corral the multiple medias of the Star Wars universe. The multiple storylines in the Expanded Universe were also placed in a pre-Disney category called Star Wars: Legends. This wiped the slate clean for Episode VII and all future books and games. Star Wars: Aftermath is the first in a trilogy of books that will officially bridge the 30 year gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.
Advertised as “Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Aftermath picks up shortly after the destruction of the second Death Star. The deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader were a great loss to the Empire, but it wasn’t the fatal blow the New Republic had anticipated. While many across the universe celebrated the Empire’s defeat, others suffered the consequences. Aftermath enlightens a very real post war problem that many have suffered in history. While the Empire’s reign was an oppressive one, it was not without benefit to poor communities where order and organized muscle proved beneficial. With the displacement of the Empire, some planets suffered loss in the form of food, water, and manpower. It also left these planets without protection, resulting in thugs claiming territories and enforcing their own oppressive rule. It’s the same reality that has plagued many war stricken territories. Readers can only wonder if author Chuck Wending didn’t use the United States recent occupation and regression in Iraq as inspiration. The results are both eerily similar. The diplomacy the New Republic thought it would bring to the galaxy isn’t necessarily an instantaneous action. And they quickly realize it can not be enforced without looking like a tyrant. It is something that must be taught, which is always difficult for those who are suffering the ill willed results of a war they didn’t want.
If you are expecting the continued adventures of Luke Skywalker, you will no doubt be disappointed. Aftermath introduces many new characters, but focuses very little (if at all) on characters from the original trilogy. Much of the novel focuses on Norra Wexley, a pilot for the Rebel Alliance, as she tries to repair her damaged relationship with her 15 year old son, Timmon. The feud between mother and son gets very sappy at times and drags on. It eventually turns into a annoyance. The continued mother knows best vs teenage angst is like watching a Lifetime movie. Think Diana Keaton in space. Meanwhile Admiral Rae Sloan struggles to unify the remaining leaders of the Imperial Army, yet without Sith rule, she quickly discovers regrouping may be more difficult than she anticipated. For the most part, it’s a lot of arguing that becomes repetitive as the story drags on. Easily the bright spot is the new character Sinjir Rath Velus, a loyalty officer for the Imperial Army. Presumed dead during the battle on Endor, he hides out in stray vagrant bars, questioning why he ever choose to work for the Empire to begin with. Even more interesting are the emotions of hope he experiences whenever rebel propaganda is secretly shared in the dark corners of dirty cantinas. His pompous sarcasm is a welcome trait among the seemingly never ending mother/ son feud. Think of a Meryl Streep drama on another planet.
Overall, there isn’t a whole lot going on in Aftermath, which is a disappointing start to a clean slate. This is the “official” sequel to Return of the Jedi, the “Journey To Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” With all the hype surrounding Episode VII, its hard to keep one’s expectations in check. Then again, this is the book the LucasFilm Story Group was created for. The one that kicked all the other exciting storylines into the rancor pit. Sure, there’s a very short irrelevant to the story chapter with Han Solo and Chewbacca that will most likely set up their appearance in The Force Awakens, and there is a brief mention to the whereabouts of Darth Vader’s lightsaber, but other than that, there isn’t a whole lot going on. It’s just a starting platform for a much bigger story. Plot lines need to be established and characters need to be introduced. It’s a slow read, forcing readers to sift through the dust to find something exciting. But that’s just it, Aftermath just isn’t that exciting. It has its moments, but this is not the post Jedi story you are looking for.
-Lee. L. Lind
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