Author: Chuck Wendig
Published By: Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When Lucasfilms was taken over by Disney, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially when the newest movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens turned out to be a reboot of the Star Wars universe that would make the older novels in the Expanded Universe obsolete (something I was definitely not happy about). Thus far, the new novels set around The Force Awakens haven’t been bad, but I haven’t been very quick to check them out. I hadn’t heard great things about the newest trilogy – Star Wars: Aftermath – but a coupon and a gift card had rendered the first book in the series free, so I thought, why not?
Star Wars: Aftermath takes place just after the destruction of the second Death Star. Sure, the major battle is over, but the war is not won. There are still remnants of the Empire out there and though the New Republic is trying its best to return the galaxy to some semblance of normalcy again, those who willingly served the Empire are not exactly ready to relinquish control. Distinguished war hero Wedge Antilles has been tasked by Admiral Ackbar to find some of these Imperial remnants, but is captured just as he discovers what may be a secret meeting between Imperial factions taking place at Akiva.
Meanwhile, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her home planet of Akiva only to discover she has to fight her way past an Imperial blockade to do so. Reunited with a son who doesn’t really want her around, Norra is torn between helping her son duck a serious criminal element whom he has stolen from and helping Wedge Antilles who she has discovered is in trouble and somewhere nearby. She had promised herself that she was done fighting and was only returning to Akiva to retrieve her son, but once again, she finds herself being pulled back into the fight against the Empire.
With the help of a Zabrak bounty hunter, a former Imperial Loyalty Officer and her technologically advanced son, can Norra hope to alert the New Republic to the presence of high ranking Imperials on Akiva and still somehow save her old friend Wedge?
I hadn’t heard great things about Aftermath. Perhaps people weren’t all that fond of Chuck Wendig’s writing style with his short, often clipped sentences and equally short chapters. Maybe they didn’t like the fact that major characters were left on the backburner in this novel. Sure, we saw Mon Mothma, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Ackbar, but the novel really focused on characters we had never met before. Maybe they had no interest in the Interlude chapters that told the story of the aftermath of the destruction of the second Death Star on other planets.
Whatever the problem with other readers, I happened to find Star Wars: Aftermath quite intriguing. I liked the Interlude chapters, which gave us different perspectives as to how others were dealing with the chaos during and after the major battle between the Empire and the Rebellion. Wendig’s clipped writing did take some getting used to, but I think that the fact that the novel mainly centered around characters we had never met before helped in that aspect. There were no preconceived notions about these characters. We weren’t expecting these characters to talk, think or react in a certain way.
I liked that we got to see the galaxy through the eyes of fresh faces. I enjoyed reading the thoughts of Admiral Rae Sloane as she struggles to contend with a subpar military, most of the best trained having fallen with the destruction of the Death Star and the Battle for Endor. I enjoyed her animosity towards the surviving factions of the Empire she was trying to bring together. Though I did find myself rooting for Norra and her crew to win in the end, I actually even found myself liking an Imperial – no small feat for an author to create a likeable bad guy.
The action and intrigue of Star Wars: Aftermath was intense and Chuck Wendig described it all perfectly. I could picture everything taking place as if I were watching a movie. There is plenty here for fans of action in the Star Wars universe, including dog fights, hand to hand combat and more. Wendig’s characters are not short on ingenuity and the ability to think fast on their feet. I had fun reading how each of the characters were able to get out of some very sticky situations.
Fact of the matter is, I enjoyed reading Star Wars: Aftermath and found myself wanting to read more Norra Wexley adventures. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next novel in the series, Life Debt.