Book: Aftermath

Aftermath takes us to the time immediately following the Battle of Endor.  It is the first book in a forthcoming trilogy that helps set the stage for The Force Awakens.  This is an important book as it really separates the previous Expanded Universe stories – in particular, the Thrawn trilogy written by Timothy Zahn.

Zahn’s books are a very tough act to follow.  In many ways, his trilogy reinvigorated the Star Wars fan base to the place where it is today.  So if Disney was going to establish a new, official canon, then this book had to be great.

But it’s not.  I really want to like this book, but I don’t.

The story follows nearly all new characters.  The few that we recognize seem out of character (especially Admiral Ackbar) and the new ones weren’t all that likable.  The story really meanders.  There’s a number of conflicts, but none of it seem particularly important in the grand scheme of things.  The Emperor and Vader are dead, the Death Star is destroyed, and they’re talking about pedantic issues among fringe Imperials and their indirect contact with new, unfamiliar characters.

It felt like every page introduced a new character with a name and a species.  The names weren’t really differentiated from each other to mentally segregate them from each other (a trick that made Zahn’s books very follow able).  Throughout the story, there are rather random references to objects and places from throughout the Star Wars Saga.  Battle Droids, Super Star Destroyers, Geonosis, A-wings, Bounty Hunters, carbonite, Sullistans.  But they were really inconsequential references or characterizations.  They did nothing to push the story along; just orniments for the sake of ornimenture.

There’s not much here to get excited about.  There are several sections of pages that just seem to repeat the themes and feelings of the previous chapters.  The threat to the characters seem artificial and not particularly significant.  The resolution doesn’t seem to have any real importance.  There’s nothing in this book that seems significant enough to merit “Star Wars” on it.  There’s certainly Imperials, Tie Fighters, and Storm troopers.  But they could very easily be some other story altogether. Buck Rodgers.  Star Wars.  Babylon 5.  It could be any of those stories.  Further, there’s No Jedi.  No light sabers.  No spiritual themes that must take place within human conflict.  Just random human conflict among uninteresting, repetitive, strangers.

Interspersed with the story are short random vignettes – “Interludes” – that describe other characters and other places.  Ironically, these vignettes are entirely unrelated to the core story, yet are FAR more interesting.

This is a real disappointment considering its placement following Return of the Jedi.  It doesn’t discuss any of our favorite characters.  It’s really not what I expected and would have felt just fine had I never read it.

The fact that it’s canon doesn’t matter either.  Maybe there’s some characters in The Force Awakens where this is their back story.  But I’d be just fine had I skipped it.

Perhaps the only redeeming quality of this book is that all of the strong, leadership characters are played by women.  A bounty hunter, a single mother (the rebel who is the main character), Mon Mothma, and an Imperial Admiral.  There are also two gay characters who play important roles (though one seems like he was made gay randomly and only as an afterthought, but fine).  This an important element of the story to acknowledge I think.  I only wish this element was more befitting a Star Wars story.

You can read it, but it’s not recommended.

This book feels like it had an reasonable central story and was sprinkled with some corporate tie-ins.  My only concern is that this quality of story will reflect on The Force Awakens.  Because if it does, we’re in for a big disappointment.