book review: aftermath by chuck wendig

Aftermath is a canon novel by Chuck Wendig and published by Del Rey, that is set between Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens. The novel is the first in The Aftermath Trilogy and is part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing project.  It was released on September 4, 2015. 

Category:  Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Publisher’s Summary:  The second Death Star has been destroyed, the Emperor killed, and Darth Vader struck down-—devastating blows against the Empire, with major victories for the Rebel Alliance. But the battle for freedom is far from over.

As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance—now a fledgling New Republic—presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but is taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former Rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit—to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies—her technical genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector—who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

Review:  This book starts with a group of people trying to topple the statue of Emperor Palpatine on Coruscant, and when they do, a group of Imperial policemen show up and start firing into the crowd.  Two the characters we’re following in the scene pick up rocks to start throwing at the officers, realizing that the war is far from over.  It’s a good way to start the book, in my opinion, because it shows that while the emperor might be dead, it doesn’t mean that everything just immediately changes overnight.  This scene is there to set the tone, and I think it does a good job.

I knew going into this from talking with people that had already read it that this wasn’t going to be just a continuation of Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, so I wasn’t disappointed about the lack of characters from the Original Trilogy in this book.  Instead, we’re introduced to a new group of characters on a new planet, and I really appreciated that.  I’m always interested in expanding the Star Wars universe, and I was glad to see the new characters and a new planet.

We do have two characters that have been previously known:  Wedge Antilles is obviously well known from the feature films, and Rae Sloane is a character from the previously published canon novel A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller.  Antilles doesn’t play that much of a part, though he is the catalyst for our band of heroes to make their assault on the remnants of the Empire that are on Akiva, while Sloane plays a large part in the story and I really enjoyed Wendig’s take on her character.  Sloane is a badass female character to add to the ever-growing list of badass female characters in the Star Wars universe.  My favorite of the new characters is Sinjir Rath Velus, a former Imperial Loyalty officer who abandoned the Imperial forces after the Battle of Endor.  Before he joins the adventure our heroes are on, he is doing nothing but sitting in bars drinking all day.  Once he learned of the Imperial blockade, he bargains with a local crime lord for safe passage off the planet but instead gets himself imprisoned.  With the help of bounty hunter Jas Emari, he frees himself and ends up joining our ragtag group of heroes.  Another character in here, Temmin Wexley, is portrayed as an adult by Greg Grunberg in the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

The mission the characters go on is not very interesting and exciting.  There were some moments that made me cheer and made me gasp, but they were few and far between.  The interludes were okay.  Sometimes I thought they were very unnecessary, but I’m guessing they play a larger part in the trilogy as a whole.  It was very obvious that this was the first part of a trilogy because of the way certain things played out, but there was enough there to make me somewhat okay with how this story wrapped up.  The characters are really the best thing about this book to me.  I wanted to spend more time with them but on a different mission.

Recommendation:  Overall, this book is kinda meh as a standalone story, but if you look at it as the first part of a trilogy, then it might be an okay first installment.  I’m hoping that all of this will have greater context by the time I’m done with the trilogy as a whole, and it’s making me glad that I’m reading these books after the entire trilogy has been released.  The main thing for me is that it feels more like a fantasy/sci-fi book than a Star Wars book, and I really wanted a Star Wars book.  If you’re interested in reading the entire trilogy, then I suggest you read it.  But if not, then this might be one that you might want to skip.

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