by Matthew Stover.
I was so looking forward to this book. I’ve had the cover art to this as my desktop background pretty much since I got the new computer, and when I found out that the book was set during the canon time period (between “ever” and Vision of the Future), I was excited. I even put a hold on it at the library to get it, I was that excited. Well, I read it at work the other night while sitting in on a parent open house, and let me tell you, not only does my disappointment know no bounds, I may not have finished it had I come home. As it was, it took me about 90 minutes to read this horrible book (not including interruptions). Let me tell you about my experience.
It started out strong. I have, er, had a good opinion of Matthew Stover since the last time I read the E3 novelization and realized it was better than I thought. Now I’ve come to the sad conclusion that Stover has more respect than talent. Everything about this book warned me that I was going to be reading some melodramatic garbage, but somehow I thought it would still be okay. The dedication to Alan Dean Foster and Brian Daley, old-school SW writers with very-80s work, and the old-fashioned title warned me. Luke’s complaining about the stories told about him in the “prologue” also warned me. In the second chapter, when Luke and Han get into an argument (a la Shanghai Knights) about whether people have a right to read cheesy stories about their heroes, even if they aren’t true, was essentially an argument that took place after Luke read this book. I should have realized then I was about to settle in for 316 pages of endless melodrama and incoherence. And yet I was still disappointed.
It starts off promisingly enough. Luke hires a private investigator to investigate himself for war crimes. Stover brings back Nick Rosta from Shatterpoint, uh, . . . well, for some reason. And Luke is doing, uh, stuff. He goes somewhere because I guess that’s just what he does. And there’s, like, a bad guy there, and he’s doing something bad that may or may not have something to do with . . . holothrillers? (Yeah, I was surprised I was supposed to take this seriously, too.) Luke kills a bunch of people because I suppose something has to happen to propel the book forward. Mostly I think what propels this book forward are paragraphs and short chapters–a typical downfall of new SW books.
The epilogue to this book offers the apology in the way of suggesting that what you’ve read is the story submitted by the investigator to Luke. While it excuses the melodrama and fractured, barely-existent plot, it hardly makes up for its serious shortcomings. Like I said, I think Stover has more respect for the Star Wars universe than he does knowledge of it. And why are words making their way into usage that have no place in the SW universe? “Sucks,” Mr. Stover? I’m not reading some teeny-bopper novelette about vampires. This is Star Wars. Star Wars is serious business, and the characters do not say that things suck. (Furthermore, reference to butts is even more inappropriate. What are you, in high school?) Someone even shouts “Cut!” at the end of a chapter as though this were Hollywood. The plot was so weak, I can’t quite even tell you what was going on, and that’s not just because I was having to look up every so often to tell people where the bathroom was.
I was astonished, frankly, by the badness of this book. Shock and betrayal alike combined to earn this book a “hated” sticker, and I can’t accept it as canon. I tried really hard. I liked the E3 novelization and wanted to like Matthew Stover, too, but Shatterpoint was awful, and this book was flat out travesty in its purest form. If you enjoyed it, I assume you also like the kind of stuff Alan Dean Foster and Daley put out, which is great, I mean, go for it. But I just can’t award it a place in the official canon.