14 Star Wars Book Reviews, including Last Shot, Bloodline, Lost Stars, and the first two in the Aftermath trilogy

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A year and a half ago, I decided that I was going to attempt to read all of the Star Wars books that fall under the newly defined canon. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they wisely decided to abandoned the Expanded Universe of books and stories in order to give themselves a clean slate for their new films. I read dozens and dozens and dozens of EU books when I was a kid, and I loved how they either continued the story of the original trilogy, expanded on aspects of the universe we’d only glimpsed before, or introduced entirely new characters and locations to follow along their own path. But I eventually ran out of steam as I got older, and couldn’t keep up with the multitude of books in many different time periods that expanded more quickly than I could read them. But Disney placed all of the old books under the “Legends” label, and started from scratch with a new canon and a Lucasfilm Story Team to oversee continuity, and I realized the time was ripe for me to jump back in. I originally wanted to read them all in release order, but after a few books I decided to balance things out a little better to give myself some variety, and also to free myself up to jump ahead for tie-in books for new movies. I’m now working on my 15th Star Wars book over the last 18 months (I have read other things too), so I thought I’d take some time and review what I’ve written. There’s a lot of variety here in terms of writing style, tone, and time periods in which these stories are set. Some of them I absolutely loved, while others were more disappointing or simply not my type of book. Hopefully this can provide a little guidance to those who might want to jump into the new Star Wars books, or to those who have read some and are considering others. These are listed in the order I read them, so certain books that go together, like the Aftermath series, are not listed together. Once you’ve checked out my reviews, drop me a comment to let me know what you’ve thought of the new Star Wars canon books, which are your favorites, and any that I haven’t read yet that you’d recommend!

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Rogue One is not Jyn’s story, it’s the Rebellion’s, and other thoughts

I’ve had all sorts of thoughts rattling around in my head since I first saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I gave it an A in my review, and I stand by that, especially as a reflection of how I feel about the film having now seen it twice. On the other hand, I don’t think Rogue One is necessarily that great of a movie either. It has some major character development issues that are for me its biggest shortcoming, particularly when held up to The Force Awakens whose greatest assets was its characters. So I wanted a chance to talk about the things I love about Rogue One, the things that frustrate me about it, and any other observations I might have. (I did something similar for The Force Awakens.) Needless to say there will be Spoilers Below for anyone who hasn’t seen the film. Here, in no particular order, are some Rogue One thoughts and opinions that continue to clog up my brain. And of course, keep in mind that all of this is coming from someone who unashamedly loves the prequels.

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Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

In my youth I read every Star Wars novel I could get my hands on. I was obsessed with the Expanded Universe and the opportunity it represented to give me more of my beloved trilogy of films, at least until such time as George Lucas saw fit to give us those long-promised extra episodes. I loved reading about the continuing adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Lando, R2, 3PO, and the rest, their children, and the extended Skywalker family’s attempts to bring peace to that galaxy far, far away. But my favorite books often didn’t involve the saga’s familiar bands of heroes and villains at all, instead focusing on a minor character from the films or telling the story of a previously unexplored event or location in the world of the movies. When Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars, they sadly but wisely did away with the Expanded Universe, relegating it to the Star Wars Legends label and removing it from the official canon in order to clear the way for The Force Awakens. It made lots of sense, as it would have been impossible to work the new films around the intricate and even sometimes contradictory narrative that had been created by the countless books, but it was hard to see these stories that I’d (mostly) loved stripped of their official status and turned into a tantalizing “what if” outlining an alternate take on the Star Wars mythology. Despite the Star Wars universe losing a good deal of depth and color without the EU, Disney now finds itself with new avenues of storytelling open to it, and the opportunity to flesh out the saga in a more cohesive way. It’s already started this process with a new series of books that weave in and out of the films and TV series that make up the new official Star Wars canon, but their newest and biggest push to once again plumb those unexplored depths has arrived in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s a bold move, giving audiences a big screen event film with Star Wars in the title, yet featuring almost none of the saga’s main characters, placing it alongside the series’ other 7 live-action films as an equal, yet not advancing the main story of the Skywalker family, requiring a little work and understanding from viewers as to how it relates to its cinematic brethren, all while hoping to launch a new method of Star Wars storytelling as well as a new way to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars. In the end, Rogue One is a success, telling an exciting and compelling story that enriches the universe without distracting from the ongoing main saga, and I can’t help but feel like it’s the cinematic equivalent of those novels I loved as a kid, which explored moments, issues, and characters that would never be worthy of inclusion alongside the Skywalkers, but which nevertheless contributed to those iconic stories by bringing the surrounding world to life. Continue reading

Trailer: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’ll be honest, since Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was first officially announced a little over a year ago it became my most anticipated Star Wars movies, far more than The Force Awakens. As much as I enjoyed that film, Rogue One was always easier for me to get excited about. I love the idea of exploring the vast Star Wars universe without having to be tied into the story of the Skywalker family (in the way many of the books did), and with the departure of George Lucas I was less worried about whether or not Rogue One is the “true” version of the story. Canon has always been important to me, so the fact is that I’ll never be as attached the main series of new films the way others might be, no matter how much I enjoy them. But I am 100% behind Rogue One, whose first trailer debuted this morning and which promises a very different take on Star Wars than we’ve ever seen before. Take a look at the trailer below and tell me what you think, and then check back later in the week for a more in-depth analysis complete with screencaps (I keep wracking up more articles to write, don’t I?). As for my first thoughts, it’s definitely thrilling, and I love how it’s going out of its way to give us a different view of events with which we’re somewhat familiar. It’s trying very hard to differentiate itself from the main series of films, which is definitely a good thing. Plus I’m already rooting for Felicity Jones’ character, Jyn Erso, and more strong female protagonists can only be a good thing!