The Leftovers – Vlog 150 – The one with all the clips that didn’t make it into a vlog during May!
The pun is strong with this one
It is no secret that I am a long time Star Wars fan, and the arrival last year of the first spin off story was welcome news. The movie was fantastic, but it was with some trepidation that I approached the novelisation. The reason for that was the absolutely awful books that were written to fill the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens namely Aftermath and Aftermath: Life Debt.
I needn’t have worried, I can honestly say that this is the best Star Wars book I’ve ever read. Alexander Freed has done a great job, and it really makes me wonder “what could have been” if he had been the author of the Aftermath books.
While the novelisation does not add a huge amount extra to the story presented in the movie, it is a action packed ride the whole way through, and a real page turner. What it does add to the movie is an increased level of detail of how at this stage of the timeline, the galaxy is in a state of great unrest. The final scenes on Scarif are brutal and hold nothing back. I guess having seen the movie I was able to visualise things in my head, but Freed did a great job of making it all come alive again. The descriptions of the tactics used in the battle above Scarif by Admiral Raddus were also excellent.
Another area where Freed excelled was on the human relationships front. The ongoing frustrations that Krennic had with Tarkin were tangible, and Mon Mothma’s backing of Jyn Erso while on Yavin 4 added a nice layer to their characters.
You don’t need to be familiar with Star Wars lore in order to enjoy this, and even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, it’s a bloody good sci-fi book. Read it.
The one where the new Star Wars trailer drops!
If you have read my Star Wars related book reviews in the past, you will know that I have been less than impressed with the latest book trilogy (Aftermath) that aims to fill the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I won’t dwell on them here, but needless to say, after reading them I felt the need to go back to the old books of the Expanded Universe, the books that they now refer to as Legends. I had read the Thrawn trilogy many years ago, and re-reading it again reminded me of just how good Star Wars books can be.
This series recalls the rollicking adventure styling of the original trilogy movies, and effortlessly and smoothly adds to the stories of the core characters. One of my biggest gripes with the Aftermath books is that the core characters are almost unrecognisable (like Leia saying rubbish like “by the blood of Alderaan!”, yet across this trio of books, everything seems familiar and harmonious.
Thrawn is a formidable enemy, albeit with a sometimes eyerolling ability for getting things right, who has our heroes traveling all over the galaxy in an effort to bring him down. I like how the books spend an equal time with both sides so that you get an understanding of their motivations and operations. There are some needless side stories (Ackbar), and some annoying plot lines (C’baoth), but overall the trilogy is a fun read full of action, nostalgia, and good ol’ sci-fi fantasy fun.
I might need to mine the EU for some more good stuff.
Aftermath: Life Debt is the second book in a trilogy series that covers the events in the Star Wars universe after Return of the Jedi and leading up the The Force Awakens. You might remember when I read the first book in the series that I was not overly impressed with it. Sadly, not only do I have many of the same complaints about this current book, but I also have a whole lot more.
After reading the first book and now this one, I think that a massive opportunity has been wasted. The books are just not that interesting. Life Debt just feels badly put together, and again the main story is broken up with the only sometimes interesting interludes (was that a Boba Fett tease?).
So the cover of the book has the Millenium Falcon on it, and this plus the words “life debt” just scream “Han and Chewie” and so the book must be all about Han and Chewie right?
Yet again we have to put up with the annoying and uninteresting new main characters from the first book, including the ridiculous Mister Bones who adds nothing but a Jar Jar Binks level of stupidity to the story.
Finally, in chapter 16 – page 187 of 430 – Han turns up. Yay! Time to get back in touch with everyone’s favourite scruffy looking nerf herder.
Han is written so differently from the Han we know and love that sometimes he is barely recognisable. Can you really imagine Han saying something like “We’re going to have to get out of there fast as blaster” Whaaaaat. This, and a lot of the book, just read like shitty fan fiction rather than rock solid new canon entries. I’ll give you some more examples:
“He’s certainly handsome. A boyish rogue. Has would, given half an invitation, mount him like a turret.”
“She senses pluck and wit and steel and blood and a keen mind and by the blood of Alderaan is this one going to be a good fighter?” (Leia)
This is narrative written by a twelve year old.
And to further put the boot in, sometimes the narrative structure just fails completely. Going back to the scene where we finally get to see Han, he comes out of the dust outside and in the middle of a field and says to the group “Name’s Han Solo, Captain of the Millennium Falcon, who the hell are you?” and then the very next scene is in a bar and Han says to them “Who are you and what do you want?”. Do you see the problem here? What did they talk about in between when they met in the field and then sat d0wn at the bar? Did they travel in silence? It makes no sense that a question would be asked and then not answered in the time it took them to get there. Even if the bar was close by, did they all just say nothing the whole time?
The mischaracterisation continues with Wedge and his “romance” with Norra. In one scene Wedge is written as waiting for Norra to return and he is holding a handful of flowers. Puh-leez, this is one of the most bad ass pilots in the galaxy yet he is written like he is an idiot.
The fact of the matter is that at no time while reading this book could I imagine a soaring John Williams score behind the events unfolding on the page. It is badly written, disjointed, and the only reason I and no doubt many others will continue reading is for completion purposes since we are childhood fans and not because we are riveted to the story and absolutely must find out what happens next.
The one where we watch a movie and then catch up with friends for the first time in 20 years!
Time to look at some details…