The Aftermath trilogy is sold as showing what happens between Episode VI and VII. Now that the second book is out and I’ve read it, I can say that that is perhaps false advertising.
Before I write about the plot and characters, I once again want to address the writing style of Chuck Wendig. I find it abysmal. It reads like a screenplay. There are no descriptions that run longer than a few sentences, which is, I imagine, how it’s done in a screenplay. E.g.: “Inside: darkness. Complete and total.” Come on!!! The short, botched sentences, many of them one-word sentences, make me feel dumber, or like the author thinks I’m dumb. Interjections like Wham or Vzzzzzz punctuate action scenes and underscore the script-like, verbally poor nature of these “books”. I’d rather watch this story as a film (preferably, I’d not consume it at all, it’s so atrocious) than read this sorry piece of novel. Repetitive phrases abound and a very narrow repertoire of descriptive tools really spoils any reading fun you might have had regardless of the story. What offends me the most is that this book really violates the idea of literature or literary fiction. It’s a bastard child of our primitive visual culture. It comes from a standard, bland Hollywood aesthetic that has nothing to do with art at all.
The worst, worst, worst thing about the Wendig books, though, are the characters and the lines they say. They seem copy-pasted straight out of the most-cliché C action-comedies.
Behold a short selection of Wendig’s terrible, Hollywood-polluted script-writing.
“I’m guessing there’s no money in this? A small ragtag crew of miscreants and deviants going after one of the highest-ranking Imperial figures cannot possibly be sanctioned by the New Republic, can it?”
“You don’t look so hot.”
“They’re not buying it.”
“They’re buying it.”
“Okay, I probably deserve that.”
“They’re already the dregs of this team. Good thing Jas likes the dregs.”
“You ready to go? Of course you are. Let’s go flying, Your Highness.”
And it goes on and on and on.
(Mild spoiler alert, albeit there’s not much to spoil. Spoiling would mean allowing you to read this book.) Now about the story: It’s mostly a string of your standard meaningless Hollywood action-adventures where the quirky heroes are never out of quippy lines. The adventures of Norra Wexley, former Alliance pilot, and her “ragtag team” (another unbearable Hollywood trope, of which so many are polluting these pages) take place during the struggle between the victorious New Republic and the remaining factions of the splintered Empire. They’re hunting the remaining leading figures of the Empire while unbeknownst to them, a new bad guy is about to take control of what’s left of Palpatine’s regime. There’s some superficial politics, some cringeworthy romance, some obvious comments on PTSD. There’s sneaky plans and scoundrel-like, devil-may-care bravery. For a while, near the end, I thought Wendig was taking inspiration from Game of Thrones, but then nobody of consequence died again. People keep surviving falls from great heights, explosions, and all other realistically lethal events. But who cares. This is Star Wars, right? And it has to be cartoonish. Sarcasm off.
There are bits here and there that kind of tie in with The Force Awakens and suggest what is going to happen, but since the time frame hardly moves at all, it’s almost sure that we won’t be much the wiser about the events between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens than before. Wendig also apparently isn’t allowed to write about Luke Skywalker before the next film featuring him comes out. Since the trilogy will be written by then, that means – no Luke. Readers get no clue about his whereabouts. Even Wendig probably doesn’t even now.
Oh yeah, but there’s Han Solo. So everything is fine, right? A Han and Chewie adventure!!! Personally, I think the people overrate the charm of Harrison Ford and the affection have for Solo. I never was much interested in him. I guess it’s a decent Han story, though. His voice and the way he behaves seem quite authentic, so kudos to Wendig here. This is, I think, the best I can say about this book. Wendig, hopefully, won’t be commissioned for any further SW books in the future. He ruined reading any SW books for me, personally. I feel slightly guilty and childish after reading this mess. Like, people think I would like this simplistic, cartoonish, hardly even written shit?? What low opinion of me must Disney have?
Bottom Line: Meh. More sub-par writing, more standard tropes. Hardly traces of an original story. Save your money and read the summaries. There’s hardly anything in these books that adds to the films. Writing is in a sad place, culturally, if the almighty Disney chooses a bad writer like this to write the trilogy for his flagship movie triad. Sad!