About the Book
Journey to The Force Awakens.
The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.
Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.
And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…
First, you need to know that I am not a Star Wars aficionado. I am brand new to the Star Wars universe, and so I don’t know what “should be” and what “has been” and I am completely ignorant as to any standards or whatever else most people probably know about. If you want someone to review a Star Wars book who knows anything about Star Wars, look elsewhere. If, however, you’re looking for a review from a place of almost complete ignorance, then you’ve hit gold. Welcome to Bookworm Blues.
So, Star Wars. I just got into the series, and I’m absolutely loving exploring it. I watched Episodes IV, V, VI (by “watch” I mean, I had the movies on while I was watching my kids, so I saw a few minutes here and a few minutes there, and really just pieced together the story from what I saw.). Anyway, I wanted to know what happened after Episode VI, and Chuck Wendig told me to read Aftermath. So I did.
I will admit that I was a little nervous about reading Aftermath, mostly because Wendig’s writing is so suited to the gritty, darker urban fantasy books like Miriam Black. However, I really like it when authors take a quick turn a different, unexpected direction. I like to see them break out a bit, see what else they can do after they’ve done something they are obviously so good at. But this was quite a change from Miriam Black, that gritty, foul mouthed protagonist that I love so much. I wasn’t sure how all of Wendig’s snark would translate to something more mainstream like Star Wars.
It is different than the other things I’ve read by Wendig, but that’s okay. Wendig isn’t a one-trick pony. His writing translates well into easily accessible books like Star Wars. I do think that some readers will get hung up on that, because it is different, and I can see where some would prefer his Miram Black style over his Star Wars style, but regardless, the guy has chops and there really isn’t any reason to box him into one style of writing or another.
Aftermath starts after The Big War that we all probably know about (which I recently learned about). If you’re expecting Luke and Leia, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. This book focuses on different, new characters, and a different, but related conflict. I’m not sure if this focus on different characters is typical for Star Wars books, but I actually enjoyed learning about other people, other landscapes, and I absolutely adored the interludes, which gave readers an insight (sometimes rather heartbreaking) into how people and cultures are dealing with the fallout from The Big War. It helped take a story that seemed pretty streamlined onto one family’s drama, and expanded it to show how one family’s drama can impact an entire solar system.
So we have new characters to get used to, and new settings for this new conflict to take place on. Some of the characters will be more compelling than others. Some stories take some time to get into, but things move quickly once they get going and it’s a lot of fun as it rolls along. We have Wedge, the pilot who basically stumbles into a situation that really starts this whole book rolling. There’s the mother-son duo of Norra and Temin, who are rather heartbreaking, but are really a beating heart of the novel in the way that their relationship gives a window for readers to see how this conflict has impacted so many people. Jas Emari, a bounty hunter who is recognized by a former member of the imperial army, and on the list goes. There are a lot of characters in this novel to wrap your head around, and while they are all interesting, I can see where the amount of new names and faces might get confusing and overwhelming to some readers.
Wendig does a great job at evening out the playing field. He makes it clear from the start that the Empire, Storm Troopers, etc. are people just trying to get along, fight for a cause, make some money, whatever, just like those who fought for the “New Republic.” I loved how he humanized these characters, so they stopped being faceless robots and started being actual people, giving a rather human, emotional face to the side of the conflict that has always seemed so cold and distant to me.
This is the first book of a series, and it felt more like an action packed setup than a fully realized story, as it should. The door is open for the second book, and I’m pretty excited to see what happens next. There are a lot of different directions Wendig can take this. He tends to surprise me, and I like being surprised, so color me excited.
Aftermath isn’t perfect, but it was far from terrible. I’ve seen a lot of horrible reviews, and Wendig has received a metric ton of drama from his writing this novel. The thing is, I’m not ensconced in the Star Wars universe enough to nitpick so many of the details that seem to have enflamed many others. Maybe if I wasn’t so Star Wars ignorant, this novel wouldn’t have been as enjoyable as it was. As it is, I had an absolute blast reading this novel. I loved just about everything about Aftermath, and I’m really anxious to read the next installment of this trilogy.
Aftermath humanized a story that seemed far from human to me, and that’s a big reason why I enjoyed it so much. Suddenly this big, strange drama was relatable, and there was real fallout that real people had to deal with in real ways. Aftermath was fun, entertaining, fast moving, new, and rather thought provoking in some surprising ways.
Bring on the next book!