Book Review: “Star Wars: Aftermath” by Chuck Wendig

sw-aftermathI’ve been greatly anticipating the new Star Wars film, and, despite my disappointment with Disney’s decision to discontinue the Expanded Universe novels, I was excited to read the new “canon” novels. For a tiny bit of background, I have read about 123 of the Expanded Universe books, effectively every single one that takes place post-Yavin. I did read a few of the earlier ones but didn’t enjoy them as much. Thus, I consider my review here as a perspective of someone who loves Star Wars, has read many of the books and enjoyed them.

All of that said, I did not enjoy Star Wars: Aftermath at all.

It starts off decently, with Wedge Antilles on a pseudo-vacation. He immediately encounters trouble, however, as leaders of the  remnants of the Empire have chosen the system he’s in to have a meeting. The book follows Wedge and various characters on the planet’s surface as they deal with the heavy Imperial presence.

The most glaring problem with this book is the writing style. Simply put, it’s terrible. I try to be fairly forgiving–and as a Star Wars fan, I wanted to like this book–but I’m honestly astonished to see that this made it past editors. Here’s a brief selection:

She stands. Hands behind her back. Staring down a long hallway. At the end of the hallway: a vent cut free with a micro-torch. Ahead of her, stormtroopers go in and out of doors–cabins, sleeping quarters. [P. 51]

I don’t think that sentence fragments are completely disallowed in novels. In some places, they make sense, like when someone is writing in first person and the character happens to think in fragments or write in fragments. That is fine. Fragments may even be acceptable when the author wishes to emphasize some point. However, this book is entirely written in this style.

Chuck Wendig seems to think that a colon can be used as a verb, as can be observed in the sample above. Again, this wouldn’t be entirely impermissible, but when it is combined with a series of fragments, as is the case here (and many, many times throughout the book), it leaves it to the reader to supply virtually everything. The reader has to think about not just adding verbs but piecing coherent thoughts together from the fragments and colons. In effect, the reader is writing the book for the author. As they read, they must gather together sentences from the scraps that are left dangling all over alleged paragraphs. The entire book reads like this, and it makes it exceedingly difficult to read even a few pages at a time.

Any enjoyment that can be derived from the novel is ultimately squelched by this problem. It is impossible to focus on the plot, because the reader must, in effect, constantly create the plot themselves. There are so few verbs that it is up to the reader to decide how the action is taking place. It reads like a number of stage directions.
I thought about writing the review in the style of the book, but I wanted to have people read the review rather than become too annoyed to finish it. Think: if review like book. You: read the review but must. Sentences–make together with words. Left. Right. That: is the direction you read.

Long story short, I don’t think I could have handled writing like that, let alone reading a review. Again, as someone who really wanted to like this book, I have to say you should avoid it. The fact that Wendig is apparently signed on for an upcoming Star Wars book in 2016 does not bode well for the state of Disney’s leadership of the Star Wars books, in my opinion. I’ll not be wasting my time on any more until I see some truly rave reviews.

The Good

+It has a cool cover

The Bad

-Halting, disjointed writing style
-Distracting sentence structure
-Paper-thin dialogue
-Build-your-own-sentence-structure

Links

J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

Reading through Star Wars: Expanded Universe– Here you can read reviews of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels and make suggestions about what I should include in my reviews.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

There are other posts on science fiction books to be found! Read them here.

SDG.

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