THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Okay, so I am probably about to do the most internet thing I have ever done. I use Reddit, but this might just beat that. Currently dogsitting, I wanted to take them for a long walk, but I often get bored about an hour in. I decided to download some podcasts to listen to but after finding nothing in the "popular" section I just searched "Star Wars". Can I go wrong with that? I thought no, but turns out I had gone wrong. I downloaded a discussion about the first Rogue One trailer, which was acceptable if not amazing, and a second one about the book Aftermath, which I found myself disagreeing with on so many levels. Now, I won't say what the podcast is because I don't want to put my foot in it again by complaining online, but I have decided to write a review of the book and explain why I mostly like it.
- Star Wars: Aftermath is the first book of the new canon to occur after the Battle of Endor (apart from the novelization of The Force Awakens). It's job is to create that Star Wars feeling, while using some of the OT characters, PERHAPS some of the "Legends" characters and probably create new ones.
- Disney/Lucasarts? are in a situation where they don't want to anger the Star Wars Extended Universe fan(boy)s, while at the same time introduce a new audience to the New Extended Universe, and also create characters that we can all fall in love with (and they can make toys of).
These two points of context need to be remembered when reading this book. They can't tie themselves down to a complex and crazy narrative that often times just revolved around some other superweapon/super evil villain threatens the Solo/Skywalker family and so they need to save the Galaxy. While this fresh start may upset some (no Mara Jade? No Thrawn? No Rogue Squadron? No Wraith Squadron?) it was an important thing to do. I have come to terms with that.
Periodically in the book there are chapters that are completely unrelated to the actual narrative. This infuriated and "confused" the podcasters. But I am sat here thinking, what the hell else do they expect from an interlude? Do they not know what that is? Each of them was interesting in its own right and each had a purpose. There was a Han and Chewie scene, which judging by the synopsis of Aftermath: Life Debt, was a direct nod to that coming story. There was a scene that hints ad a nod towards the return of Boba Fett, which can simultaneously placate and excite all of the Boba fanboys out there. Three scenes linked, which to me seemed to be obviously creating some back story for characters in other upcoming media, and finally there were some scenes to do with politics and things that were explaining why there is the need for The Resistance in TFA. They did not annoy me. They did not distract from the story. The title "interlude" showed that they are breaks from the regular story. They fit in the book because it is THE FIRST BOOK OF THE POST ENDOR CANON and they need to introduce some more people and hint at new books.
The story is okay. There is a secret meeting of some of the remaining high level imperial leaders who are discussing the future and what it might look like. Wedge Antilles stumbles on this and is captured, while at the same time Norra Wexley, a former rebel pilot is returning to the same planet (Akiva, a new planet to me) to be with her son. Jas Emari is a bounty hunter who wants to collect a bounty on one of the high level imperials. She used to collect many bounties for the Empire and was present at Endor to see the tide turn. Sinjir Rath Velus is a former imperial loyalty officer (Gestapo/Soviet Political officers) who is also present at Endor and sees the tide change. He and Jas exchange a look while he is changing into a dead rebel's clothes. He is now here on Akiva trying to drink his life away. Anyway, the story ends up being fairly predictable and I found Norra's teenage son to be quite annoying. BUT I understand why he is here. We live in a world of Catniss Everdeen's and Mazerunners, Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Disney really needed a younger character for all of their younger audience to really get behind. I can live with him. He is the new Ahsoka Tano/Ezra Bridger for the post Endor scene.
During the story there was some really good action, some suspense, some humour, some great new characters and a whole lot of interesting new things to excite me about the Star Wars universe again. However, the whole book did feel a bit like it was just setting us up for a series of other stories with this motley crew. In fact the book ends with them being organised into a special missions team who would go around the galaxy shutting down imperial organisations. Also, according to Wookieepedia the next book Aftermath: Life Debt has been far better received and feels like Star Wars again according to many reviewers.
New Canon vs. Old Canon
Some of the issues with the book, for me, were where it contradicts what I "know" from the original EU. This sounds silly, I know, but for me, months after the battle of Endor Wedge Antilles was running Rogue Squadron, liberating Coruscant. It was hard for me to accept that he wasn't doing that anymore. Also, TIE fighters seemed to be very agile in atmospheric flight...which again for me is a big no no as I have been raised to believe that they are terrible at that. It puts me in a strange place because I want to accept this new canon, but will always love the original EU.
I am not trying to say that the book is amazing, because it wasn't. But I didn't hate it like the podcasters seemed to. I enjoyed it overall, cared for some of the characters and enjoyed much of what happened. When taken for what it is, and in the context in which it was written, Star Wars: Aftermath is a fun yarn and gives us some new characters to fall in love with.