Today’s book review bring you my thoughts on Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath.
Most of you might have noticed that a fair number of my posts have started with “Flash Fiction Challenge:” and in the little blurb before each story, I include a link to the blog at terribleminds.com, the wordy-talky-type-place hosted by none other than Aftermath’s author, Chuck Wendig. This is my roundabout way of saying that I came to this story on a different lead than a fair number of folks reading it.
I grew up on Star Wars. Being a bit too young for the theatrical release, I still managed to wear out a Betamax copy of Return of the Jedi. More specifically, the Tatooine portion of that film. Once they got to the live action care bears, my five year old attention span wandered, and I never quite grew out of it. I was excited as anyone when the prequels were announced, and just as disappointed with how they turned out (though I still think 2 & 3 are watchable, but that’s the subject of another blog post). I gave up three episodes in to the clone wars cartoon, and, most relevant to this, I’ve never read any of the Expanded Universe books. I picked up this book because a) it was announced as official cannon and b) written by a writer who’s works I’ve read and enjoyed.
Now, I completely understand why some people are pissed that Disney pulled a “Well, that’s how it COULD have happened” and undid the universe that people had invested time, energy, and money into. At the same time, I don’t have that baggage, so yeah. Complaint noted, and if that’s going to stick in your craw, then you might want to pass on this book.
I also should note that Wendig’s writing style isn’t for everyone. I think it helps that the first story of his that I read wasn’t Aftermath, so I had no expectations of how that story should sound based on the world it was set it. Once I knew his voice, it wasn’t hard for me to adjust to hearing Star Wars in that voice.
There’s a couple of storylines being juggled around, and I think Wendig does a pretty good job keeping the balls in the air. My only real complaint is that the scenes with the most recognizable characters feel a bit shoehorned in to let you know that you’re still in the Star Wars universe, kind of like how Agents of Shield can overdo the name dropping a bit to let you know they’re still in the MCU. I’m sure these will have much more of an impact later on, but without the context of the next two books, these scenes stood out, and not in the best way.
However, I really enjoyed the main story. It’s your basic “gathering of a rag tag crew to save the universe/Republic” story, but all of the characters are a whole lot of fun and pretty well fleshed out even though they are a bit archetypal (My favorite is the bounty hunter). Some are diverse (which bothers some people?), but seriously, in a universe populated by hundred of worlds, if you’re expecting nothing but straight white dudes, maybe the problem is with your expectations.
On the other side of the character spectrum, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the representatives of the bruised but not beaten Empire. To me, the antagonists in Star Wars have always been terribly flat, and Aftermath does an excellent job of explaining to a reader only watchedthe movies why the hell someone would work for the Empire other than because they are “EVIL”.
So, if you’re a fan of Chuck’s work, and at least mildly interested in Star Wars after Jedi, I’d say check them out. If you’re not a fan of Star Wars, well, probably not for you, and if you’re a Star Wars superfan, you’ve probably already bought this book and have lined up on your side in the internet battlefront.
TLDR: From an everyday geek’s perspective, it was an enjoyable read, despite the rare scene that felt a bit forced in. I’ll definitely be picking up the second book. 4/5