BOOK REVIEW: Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

written by David Steffen

(note: I’m behind on posting my own reviews, I read this book and wrote this review a while ago, so references to the “The Force Awakens” movie being recent, etc are a symptom of that)

Aftermath is a Star Wars franchise tie-in novel written by Chuck Wendig and published in September 2015 by Del Rey.  Since Disney decided to declare all of the pre-2014 novelizations as a separate timeline from The Force Awakens movie in 2015, Aftermath is one of the few novels in the official movie canon.

Aftermath picks up shortly after the original movie trilogy.  The second Death Star has been destroyed.  Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine are dead.  The Empire is shaken and leaderless, but not gone (keep in mind that this book was published before The Force Awakens hit theaters, so we hadn’t yet met Kylo Ren and the First Order yet).  The Rebel Alliance has become the New Republic, trying to restore as much order as possible in the wake of the conflict with the Empire.

The New Republic is seeking out the remnants of the Empire to keep them from regrouping.  New Republic pilot Wedge Antilles, visiting planets on the outer fringe to seek out Imperial remnants, discovers exactly what he’s looking for on Akiva–a group of Star Destroyers gathered around a fringe planet–but he’s taken captive before he can broadcast a message to the New Republic. Broadcast frequencies have been jammed and the Imperials are closely monitoring traffic to ensure secrecy.

Former rebel fighter Norra Wexley returns home to Akiva after the war to reunite with the son that she left behind, not realizing that she is stepping into this secretive Imperial summit.  Norra, her son, a bounty hunter, and an Imperial defector work together to find a way to fight back against this remnant of the Empire to interrupt it before it can gather its strength again.

I haven’t read a Star Wars novel since I was a teen, and I was happy to sink into the universe in print again, with the excitement of The Force Awakens movie still fresh in mind.  I did read the book after seeing the movie, but I don’t think it made much difference in my appreciation for either one since Aftermath has very little character overlap with the movie.

It had some good action, fun sense of wonder tech stuff, space battles, fun banter, a few familiar characters, all what I would expect from a Star Wars book.

One thing that I thought was interesting about this book before I even read it was the angry reaction it spurred from a subset of fans who were upset at the acknowledgment of homosexuality in the Star Wars universe (and very excited reactions from a different subset of fans who were excited about the representation).  I heard about it for months before I got around to reading the book and I was interested to see exactly what the portrayal of homosexuality was.  The presence was so minor I’m not sure I would have even given it more than a passing thought, honestly, if it hadn’t been for the big to-do made about it ahead of time.  I thought it was cool to see representation, no matter how minor, and I hope to see more.

All in all, I’d recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading Chuck Wendig’s next Star Wars book installment.  If you’ve seen The Force Awakens and you’re looking for a little something new in the new Star Wars universe (as opposed to the dozens of books that have been released over the past 40 years that have new been retconned out of the official universe) then you should give it a try.