So if you’ve been watching social media or reading Amazon reviews written by some people, you might think that SW: Aftermath is going to be a huge stream of consciousness rainbow colored lightsaber wildly severing you childhood’s limbs. Shortly after I stated following writers on Twitter, Chuck Wendig’s new Star Wars novel dropped, and it’s how I first learned of Chuck and his work. Because of seeing other writers tweet about the book, and especially in how he responded to a small, but vocal subset of critics I followed him on twitter, and have really enjoyed his social media presence.
But enough about why I like Chuck, let’s talk about Aftermath, and what it is and isn’t. Like my other reviews, I try to avoid any spoilers, because people stumble into a good buck months, years, or even decades down the road.
So Chuck’s style of writing is one of the main focuses of criticism. He uses present tense, tends toward shorter sentences, and has a lot of snarky dialog. To me, this fit right in with the story he was telling. Rebel agents, bounty hunters and imperial agents, running around a backwater part of the galaxy, and engaging in acts of defiance to the Empire. These are not people who are going to give long speeches and observe all the rules of galactic decorum. These are people who see a problem and often use violence to take care of it. That said, you have to be able to connect with a writer, so if you don’t like their writing style and it keeps you from reading, I think Chuck would be one of the first to wish you the best of luck with your next read. Just don’t proclaim that because you didn’t like it, it has to be the worst thing ever.
One of the other main criticism’s you see of this book is the inclusion of LGBT friendly characters. I have to say the criticism is pretty much overstated, as the number of LGBT characters in the story is less that most people know in real life. Nobody is pushing an agenda, and the characters themselves treat is matter of factly. The reactions (especially the continual accusations of “shoving it down our throats”) are way overblown. You have a nice older lesbian couple and a main character who happens to be gay.
So if you remove those two areas people have focused their criticism on what are you left with? A pretty good adventure story with twists and turns, larger than life characters (which is what we want, we don’t want SW: The Accountants Calculate the Costs of Yet Another Death Star), snappy dialog, and as a bonus, a great series of interludes letting us know what is going on elsewhere in the galaxy. Disney is working hard to fill in the gaps between Episodes VI and VII, and Chuck’s novels are a part of that. The interludes give you teases of what is and what might be. Whether he fleshes them out, or another author does, or they remain tastes of possibilities, only time will tell. Some of the interludes refer to famous people and events in SW, others serve to bring the reality of a galactic civil war home.
TL;DR version: Loved the book, think a lot of the more vocal critics need to put down the axes they are grinding, and if a book doesn’t work for you, find one that does, but don’t sit by the well crapping in it for others.