Archive for Michael Reaves

Review: Coruscant Nights III

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 4 December 2011 by Megan

Book 3

by Michael Reaves.

And then it’s book three, Patterns of the Force. I just said that for Reaves, a lot of the time, it’s the force of the well-conceived, well-done first book that carries the second book along. Well, the third Coruscant Nights book gives us a little glimpse at why, maybe, Mr. Reaves should maybe stick to writing singles, and also, makes us all thankful there’s never been a MedStar III.

I really disliked Patterns of the Force, if you can’t tell. As it’s still about a Jedi private detective living in the Coruscant slums, there are some stereotype elements that carry the plot along, sort of, and some bits and pieces milked out of the first two books that aspire to fill in the gaps but really don’t any too much. I was completely bored by this entire book, and when I wasn’t bored, I was frustrated. It defies credulity to think that Vader and Jax would face off and then Jax just goes his merry way. Also, I don’t see what’s so important about Jax that Vader was so personally invested in his destruction anyway–and if Vader were so devoted, I don’t see how the guy could live. Reaves obviously has no compunction about popping characters, so why Jax lives is beyond me. There were too many things for my willful suspension of disbelief to be willful.

I know this is a really bad review, but I’m kind of running out of time, and here’s the thing . . . Being the third book, I read this one most recently, and I can’t remember anything about it to tell you. Looking at the plot summary, none of these generic elements are ringing any bells with me and I can only shrug and shake my head and say, ah, well, I liked the first two books. Nice cover art. All the plot summary gives me is that there are questions, Jax thinks I-5 has the answers, and Vader and Jax have a final confrontation. In all, a sad and boring conclusion to a haphazard series I, for the most part, thoroughly enjoyed.

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Review: Coruscant Nights II

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 27 November 2011 by Megan

Book 2

by Michael Reaves.

In book two, Street of Shadows, Jax is dealing with the news that I-FIVE has given him, that is, about his father, but also dealing with a lot more: there’s his case load as a private investigator. He’s just been hired to investigate a famous artists’ death, and stumbling into law enforcement officers isn’t good for his status as a fugitive Jedi wanted by the Empire. Speaking of the Empire, he’s also trying to hide from Vader’s Jedi Hunters, and also trying to hide from another kind of feeling . . . A “shadow Jedi” Twi’lek who might just make things too complicated for a man who thinks things are complicated enough. Also, as a bit of a fun cameo, Captain Typho is back–and he has a secret, too.

Although not as good as the first book, and, admittedly, Jax is not as adorable as his father, it’s still a decent book and I enjoyed reading it–something I can’t say about a lot of these recent SW books. Reaves has a tendency to become formulaic. Like most of his stuff, the first book starts out really strong and the second book kind of gets carried along with it. I notice these all came out in June of 2011 . . . back in my day, we had to wait months for the next installment. Maybe if the publishers spaced these out a bit more, the writing would suffer less? Honestly, readers won’t mind the wait if it’s worth waiting for . . .

Review: Coruscant Nights I

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 20 November 2011 by Megan

by Michael Reaves.

Back for more, eh? Right, as I told you in post 1, this is a fun little miniseries I really enjoyed (for the most part), and I’m pleased to be able to recommend to you a couple of novels that were published after the turn of the century! Warning–As I noted before, quietly go make sure you’ve read Shadow Hunter as well as the two MedStar books before embarking on these. I will insist that series of books ought to be read in order! And possibly, make sure you’ve done that before reading these reviews too closely because there’s some little spoilers I can’t help but give away or I wouldn’t have anything to write.

Book 1

It is the Jedi Twilight, which also happens to be book 1 of the Coruscant Nights trilogy. Although Order 66 was carried out with frightening efficiency and accuracy, and the Jedi Temple was demolished, some Jedi have managed to escape. Vader’s brutal Jedi-neutralizing taskforce is everywhere, though, and those Jedi are constantly in danger. Meet Jax Pavan, one such Jedi who has decided hiding on Coruscant is better than trying to escape elsewhere. After all, what other planet has a population this size and any number of perfect hidey-holes? Of course, life anywhere isn’t free or even very cheap, and so Jax is trying to make a living as a private investigator. Unbeknownst to him, the protocol droid who used to be partners with his father is also trying to find him with the help of the Sullustian journalist Dehn Dur, and also, trouble of another sort is brewing–an uncompleted Jedi mission falls right in his lap along with everything else he’s trying desperately to avoid.

I fell in love with Lorn Pavan in Shadow Hunter, and I was extremely excited to meet his son after reading three books that all talked about him, his disappointment with the Jedi who betrayed him, and his desperation to see Jax again. This book lived up to my expectations and was a fun adventure on Coruscant. I think Reaves held it together very well and the characters are believable and likable. I was certainly eager to get to book two, which, I think, says a lot about book one.

Review: Medstar II

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 13 November 2011 by Megan

Book 2

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

This is a sequel in line with a bunch of other sequels. So make sure you’ve read Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter and Medstar I.

Medstar II: Jedi Healer is not anywhere near as good a book as the first one.

Once again: the Republic medical unit on Drongar may be a dismal post, but it’s one vital to the war effort. Bota, a miracle plant that grows nowhere else in the galaxy, is desperately sought by both the Republic and Separatist factions of the war.

Barriss Offee has been stationed there and has a growing friendship with the troops and medical officers also “stuck” on Drongar. Disillusioned Den Duhr, a Sullustian journalist, continues on in the company of amnesiac I-FIVE.

While I devoured the first book and loved it, I was deeply disappointed with this one. It was no more than a shallow imitation, absolute filler.

Another thing I took serious issue with — I didn’t much like how they portrayed Corellian culture as some kind of peculiar Amish knock off (Jos is forced to choose between his family’s values, the “in” life of Corellia, or his love, who is an “outsider” — nothing before has ever suggested Corellians feel this way).

A new surgeon kind of comes in abruptly, he’s from Tatooine and is called “Uli,” and there is no real reason for the characters from the first to be hanging around (I’m looking at you, Den Duhr and I-FIVE). The plot kind of drags, but contains some important information for later, and therefore its gets buoyed along by other books. I wish I could say this is the only time this happens in this miniseries.

Recommended for reading only insofar as you’ll want it before you move on to the next part of the Reeves’ miniseries. Check it out on Amazon.com here!

Review: Medstar I

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 6 November 2011 by Megan

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

People all the time be asking me, “Star Wars Librarian, why are you so down on the Star Wars books?” I would have to answer your question with another one–“Why do people keep writing such bad Star Wars books?” And I would add, “When someone writes one worth praising, I will praise it!” I’m not harsh because I enjoy being harsh; I’m harsh because I don’t believe in giving things marks they haven’t earned. Still, I understand that some people might be turned off by the constant stream of 1- and 2-star reviews and pleas of “never read this book” from this site–I can’t imagine who, though–so I do kind of apologize. I just haven’t read and good SW books for a long time; if it’s any consolation, I don’t like reading them any more than you like reading poor reviews. Unless you do like reading poor reviews, in which case, this paragraph isn’t for you.

I would like to redress this though because I do have a lot of SW books that are good, and my plan is to go along systematically reviewing them for your pleasure, and I promise now that I’m out of that sheaf of bad books I read this spring, the reviews will be more varied in scale and scope. I only have three books left from my spring reading, and I’ve been saving them because I really enjoyed them. Or at least part of them. See, I was waiting to review them as a unit, so I had to finish them all. I’m talking about a couple little series that Michael Reeves put out–the Med Star books and the Coruscant Nights trilogy.

Before starting on on the Med Star books, make sure that you have Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter under your belt. If you don’t, you may want to go read it now and skip the rest of this review. Just trust me that these are good books and come back once you’ve got Shadow Hunter down.

Book 1

Star Wars: Clone Wars: Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry, follows and introduces some familiar characters. A Republic medical unit on the world Drongar have a dismal post that is also extremely important to the war effort. A miracle plant, bota, which grows on this planet and no other, is desperately sought by both the Republic and Separatist factions of the war, but it creates a challenge for the medical staff because mass bombing would destroy the precious plant. Hand-to-hand and close quarters combat leave Republic troops in desperate condition.  The planet is inhospitable, uncomfortable, and unpleasant, but the cause is a good one.

Enter Jedi Padawan Barris Offee, who has been sent as back up to this post. Den Duhr, a Sullustian journalist, has also filtered down Drongar way and with him the modified droid I-FIVE who first showed up in Shadow Hunter. He’s lost his memories, though, and doesn’t remember what important mission he is supposed to be on, just that it’s something he needs to remember. Other characters are the doctors Jos (a war-worn Corellian) and Zan (a gentle, music-loving Zabrak).

I was thoroughly charmed by this book and enjoyed this glimpse into the “normal” side of life in the Star Wars universe. These people are purely EU characters (except Barris, who can be seen in E2), just everyday people. If you like medical dramas, you’ll certainly love this book, as it closely follows the pattern long-established by shows like Diagnosis Murder and ER. There is also a surprising amount of character evolution for a book like this. There’s a beautifully tragic surprise ending, too.

Absolutely read this book. Check it out on Amazon.com here.

Review: Death Star

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 31 July 2011 by Megan
Death Star Cover

inb4 That’s No Moon!

by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry.

I was actually pretty disappointed by this book. Steve Perry has been in my good graces for a long time–he’s produced some really good Star Wars stuff in the past (Shadows of the Empire, anyone?), and Michael Reaves has been steadily winning me over with his Lorn Pavan stories. So when I got through this book and all it was was a dull walkthrough of the Death Star’s construction manual.

Some bits that I did like were scenes from the film done from the opposite point of view, but still, even these were just cop-outs that emphasized how unenthusiastic the writers were about the project. Catchphrases, clichés, and generalizations made up the majority of this book, coupled with excessive technological description that most Star Wars fans read SW books to avoid. When it descended into going over ANH for me, I wrote it off in sheer boredom–how many novelizations does the first movie need? Regular people should have been cool to read about. And yet.

Anyway, it’s a harmless canonical book; just don’t be surprised when it turns into explication of what you already know, and don’t expect really fun or exciting, fresh characters like in Perry and Reaves’ other works. Check it out on Amazon.com.

Review: Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

Posted in Reviews, Spotlight with tags , , , , , on 29 May 2011 by Megan
Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter

Michael Reaves.

A funny thing happened when I was reading another of the books I’m going to be reviewing here in the next couple weeks. I recognized one of the characters–and that was only funny because I thought I’d never read this book before. Yes, that’s right . . . the Star Wars Librarian forgot she’d read a SW book. Don’t let that stunt your opinion of it, though, because Reaves is far from forgettable! As soon as I saw the characters’ names again, I instantly remembered being 16, sitting at the end of my bed, devouring the text with my youthful desperation, biting back tears every now and again . . .

Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter is a unique adventure. It doesn’t feature main characters heavily, relying on its own storytelling to keep your interest. It’s an interest well kept. Set 37 years before A New Hope (in the year 01101), Shadow Hunter tells the story not only of Darth Maul, but of Lorn Pavan and his partner, I-Five. They’re just a couple of simple fellows trying to stay alive on Coruscant. This is a proposition more and more difficult as time goes on. Lorn’s got a chip on his shoulder, and I-Five has a chip for a brain–he’s a sentient droid. The story is also about a Jedi Padawan and her master, and some Sith, and a plot to blockade the planet of Naboo.

We all know the blockade on Naboo isn’t prevented, but Michael Reaves puts together a fast-paced and compelling novel with richly interesting characters, some of whom pop up again later ;) Also worthwhile are the insights into Maul’s character. In short, like a lot of prequel material, it’s fast-paced, interesting, but not for people who must have a happy ending. Unlike a lot of prequel material, it’s well-written, too. Nothing tedious here!

Check it out on Amazon.