Review: ‘Aftermath’ by Chuck Wendig

Aftermath

Journey to The Force Awakens.

The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.

Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.

And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…

I’m not a huge Star Wars nerd. Sure, I’ve seen the movies, but I haven’t read any of the other books. I picked this one up because I enjoy Wendig’s frenetic, visceral writing style and the fact that he makes real, flawed characters. Aftermath delivered on both fronts.

It’s funny. I was going to give Aftermath a miss, just because I have two other Wendig books on my TBR pile (and see previous comments about not being a huge Star Wars nerd). Do you know what tipped me over? The fact that a lot of the negative reviews of the book slam the fact Wendig included several homosexual characters. They complain that they are “divisive” and that their sexuality isn’t relevant to the plot, so why mention it?

(The obvious counterargument is that when you’re building a whole character, there are a lot of elements to them that aren’t relevant to the plot. What they are useful to do is to build a three-dimensional character that a reader can get to know. Not necessarily always like, but at least know and understand. And, whether some folks like it or not, some real people are actually gay. I know, right? Let’s contain our shock and move on.)

So I bought the book, because I actually enjoy reading about diverse characters. This was a case where the negative reviews sold it for me. 🙂

The characters are fun because none of them are perfect (and I’m not talking about sexual preferences here). I particularly liked Norra, Sinjir and Jas. Norra’s son, Temmin, is a bit of a whiny precocious brat, like Anakin was, but I mostly forgave him for his bad behaviour. Maybe I just sympathised with his mother too much. Sinjir is delightfully sarcastic, and Jas doesn’t mess around.

The plot moves along at breakneck speed (a trait of all the Wendig books I’ve read) and is broken up by interludes. These provided a snapshot of what’s happening elsewhere in the galaxy — what happens when a rebellion overthrows an oppressive regime, in all its messiness. Each of the interludes is basically a short story or snippet, some of which may be pursued down the track, either in future books or in the movies. For the most part I really liked the interludes, although I got a bit impatient with one towards the end, because I really wanted to know what was happening in the main storyline.

The only other thing that bothered me was that in a few places there was some assumed knowledge, especially about the appearance of the various alien races. Wendig gave them a broad-brush description, but not really enough that I could picture them. (I haven’t seen the movies for years.) Still, I just let it wash over me as part of the chaos of the galaxy.

Upshot: I really enjoyed Aftermath and will buy the sequel.

Four stars

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2 Comments on “Review: ‘Aftermath’ by Chuck Wendig”

  1. Emily Witt says:

    I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about reading this for exactly the same reason. How dare he include diverse, realistic people in his book?!


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