Mike Audette reviews the first novel for a new era.
This review contains minor spoilers for Star Wars: Aftermath.
Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig
Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars: Aftermath was the exact kind of story that was needed following the Battle of Endor. Taking place in the months following the battle, readers are put into the viewpoints of many different characters, some new and some old. The world building that takes place through their eyes is a perfect canvas for what the galaxy looks like at that time. Wedge Antilles is sent on a covert mission around planets in the Outer Rim to try to uncover Imperial holdouts trying to escape New Republic justice. Yes you read that correctly, the New Republic. In the short few months that have elapsed since the destruction of the second Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has become the New Republic with a fully-fledged Senate and brand new chancellor, who just happens to be Mon Mothma. The capital of the New Republic is Chandrila, Mothma’s home world. What does this mean for Coruscant? One of the few disappointing aspects was that we don’t find out in this story.
The new characters introduced in the novel fit perfectly in the Star Wars universe. Norra Wexley is one of those characters who is so easy to root for that you want to keep reading chapter after chapter to see what happens next. This is one of the major benefits of Wendig’s writing style. It makes everything feel substantial and real and important. The present tense he uses does a wonderful job in making every situation the characters are placed in feel like it could be their last. The villains are scripted to be perfectly detestable. Moff Pandion (or should I say Grand Moff) and General Slate and the rest of the surviving Imperial leadership are just vile, so when they are taken out it is incredibly rewarding. One of the returning cast who should be welcomed by all is Admiral Rae Sloane. Sloane is now an Admiral following her promotion following A New Dawn and she is one of the strongest characters throughout the novel. Wendig does a great job at portraying her as a sympathetic character on the wrong side.
Some of my favorite parts of the novel are the many ‘Interludes’ that are scattered throughout. These serve as vehicles to give us a glimpse into other locations in the galaxy through other characters perspectives. We visit Saleucami and a pair of brothers on opposite sides of the war, Chandrila for a Holonet broadcast at the opening of the New Republic Senate, Tatooine to visit some scum on a Sandcrawler finding some Mandolorian armor in the scrap (wait, could it be?), and even a cameo from our favorite Scruffy-looking Nerf Herder and his walking carpet co-pilot heading to Kashyyyk (I want this to be a full-length novel so bad). All of these give us a wonderful window into the galaxy at large and in the kind of fashion that would make JJ Abrams jealous in how it gives us more questions to ask than answers.
Aftermath is a wonderfully fun and impossibly real story. It feels like you are there with each character, in every action sequence, every chapter-ending cliffhanger. Wendig’s prose is raw and to the point. Every word, passage and joke serves a purpose. And yes, the jokes are funny and well timed. (“Thankfully, it’s she who spoke. Not the skeleton. Because… gross.”) I mean c’mon, that’s just pure brilliance. While Aftermath may not cause any major paradigm shifts with its events, this doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story, and it should not take away yours.
Michael Audette is a lowly accountant and a giant Star Wars fan. After seeing A New Hope at seven years old, his life wouldn’t be the same again. Besides his love for Star Wars, Mike is an avid listener of heavy metal and can often be spotted at concerts. He’s also a huge Boston sports fan and loves the Bruins over all others. He is a washed up athlete who still goes to the gym everyday. You can follow him on Twitter @mike_audette.