Retro Reviews: ‘Aftermath’ by Chuck Wendig

July 14, 2020 at 12:01 am | Posted in Books, Random House, Reviews, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | 1 Comment
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Aftermath is the sixth novel in the canon, and was the first adult novel to explore the Post-Return of the Jedi era in the canon. It was written by Chuck Wendig and was released in September of 2015.

Aftermath is a very polarizing book. There are people who love it and people who hate it. Rightly so, as there is a lot to hate in this book, but also a lot to love. I personally had a lot of problems with this book, but overall really liked it and enjoyed it. If you want a different (and yet really informative opinion), I recommend you go back and read Skuldren’s review, which poignantly outlines a lot of the problems of the book. I’ll cover some problems here, but that review is much more in depth.

The biggest problem with this book is the marketing. This book was pushed to consumers as a book answering big questions about the universe and being a lead up book for The Force Awakens. That, however, is not what this book is. This book is really a fun, small adventure with a ragtag group of Rebels fighting against an Imperial force on a backwater planet, which also has some loose ties to The Force Awakens and the state of the galaxy. If the book had instead been marketed as that, I believe that people would not have been so angry about what they got.

First off, I love the plot. Absolutely love it. The concept of a ragtag group of Rebels, who prior to the story have nothing in common and have no ties to each other, come together and against all odds strike against the Empire is one of the most Star Wars type plots we could have gotten. In a vacuum, this would be one of my favorite plots of the canon. It actually has a lot of similarities to the first season of the Rebels television series, which is why I think I liked it so much.

While I know a lot of people liked the interludes, I didn’t love them. I think they would be wonderful as their own book, maybe a short story collection about the state of the galaxy written by one or more Star Wars authors would have been not only well received, but would have lived up more to the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” more. But putting a dozen interludes in this book not only stalls the main plot’s momentum, but creates a fracture between the audience of fans of the interludes and fans of the stories. That being said, Wendig did a fine job with the interludes as they are written.

This book has quite the cast of characters. There were several new characters, such as Norra Wexley and her son, Temmin; the brand new Bounty Hunter Jas Emari, the drunk yet lovable former Imperial Sinjir Rath Velus, and the wonderful sociopathic battle droid, Mister Bones. There were also quite a few known characters in the plot, including Wedge Antillies, Admiral Ackbar, and Admiral Rae Sloane.

Norra Wexley is a very compelling character. I appreciated her arc of just wanting to return to her son, while also balancing her duty as a Rebel pilot. Her struggles in this book and beyond make her a wonderful character to follow in the canon, especially after the Aftermath trilogy and into Resistance Reborn.

Temmin Wexley was interesting, as he had the most obvious connection to the Force Awakens, as he is played in that film by Greg Grunberg. He reminded me a lot of Ezra from Rebels, and yet had his own edge to him.

Mister Bones was a hilarious addition to the cast. He made me crack up audibly several times. I love that Wendig took the most pathetic soldiers from the Prequels and made them terrifying.

Jas Emari is a character that I really hope we see more of in future stories. Her arc in this book and in the Aftermath trilogy as a whole is fantastic. She also had some great funny lines.

Sinjir Rath Velus is the most Chuck Wendigiest of characters, if you’ve read his other non-Star Wars books. The drunk who wants nothing to do with the plot but yet gets caught up anyway was fresh and interesting. There were things that Wendig did with his character arc in this book and future books that I personally don’t love, but it isn’t too big a problem for me.

My standout character in the book was Rae Sloane. She has become my favorite original character in the canon. Her introduction in A New Dawn was great and she continues to be great here. She provides the audience with a familiarity into the story that helps us empathize with the Imperials.

On that note, my favorite portions of the book were the conversations with the Imperials. I loved reading about how they decided what to do with the Empire and what they were going to do as a result of the destruction of the second Death Star. I could have gotten an entire book about them, and I hope we get more about them in the future. All of the secondary and minor Imperials were all fleshed out and unique that it provided some fresh takes on the group as a whole.

On the writing style, I personally didn’t have a problem with it. I think it would have been better if Del Rey and Lucasfilm had done another trilogy first in the traditional format, and then waited and done this one later in third person present tense. But the way it was presented and marketed, it threw a lot of people off and soured their view of the story.

There were so many connections to other Star Wars projects that I can’t go into depth here, but suffice it to say that I loved all of the easter eggs and references in the book. Particularly the non-Star Wars reference with the creation of a Star Wars Catan like game.

As a whole, I enjoyed this book, but did have some problems with it. It’s definitely worth reading, in my opinion, especially if you want to read the next two in the trilogy, which are vital to understanding Star Wars. This is one of those books that I honestly enjoyed the second time through, and I hope all fans will give this another chance at some point. 3.5 out of 5.

Next book is Lost Stars, which is one of the most beloved books in the canon, but one that I have a hot take on.

Written by Jonathan Koan

1 Comment »

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  1. I read this book soon after it was published, and while I enjoyed it and didn’t mind Wendig’s choice of narrative style or any of the things that bothered other readers, I do think that it could have used the attention of a better copy-editor.

    I haven’t re-read it recently, but Wendig did have quite a few Earth-only expressions that don’t jive with Lucas’s edict of avoiding recognizable aphorisms, plus he has quite a few typos/spelling errors in the text.

    Good review!

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