Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 in Star Wars


We can't help but look back. For me, Star Wars-flavored nostalgia is Borders and suburbs, the New Jedi Order, the Prequels and the never-canon, always-important Tales and Infinities. In 2015 we're fully surrounded by the new canon, which was all set up to take us to The Force Awakens. Disney has started their own line of young adult and young reader books, and I've devoured those too. (The Original Trilogy Journey to the Force Awakens novels and Lost Stars were sent to me; Before the Awakening was not.)

Part of me was afraid that The Force Awakens would kill my interest in Star Wars. In the worst of all possible worlds, there wouldn't even be a reason for the death - I would like the movie, but wouldn't be able to put a finger on my own reasons for not being interested in the books, not being interested in the characters. That didn't turn out to be a problem. The weekend after seeing The Force Awakens I went out to pick up Before the Awakening in the same kind of loud, excitable rush as ever before. (And New Republic: Bloodline? Tell me more.) The Force Awakens had flaws, but I'm not particularly interested in writing a critical review - I enjoyed the new characters too much, enjoyed the feeling of seeing an impossibly new Star Wars story on screen again too much.

I became involved with Star Wars this year like never before - in March I started writing the HoloNet Digest for Del Rey Books, which now lives on tumblr. This has been a wonderful first step into a larger world, and I'll keep working with them and hope to start some new projects in the new year. I'm incredibly thankful to be able to be a little part of the Star Wars family.

As for my favorite, most-recommended Star Wars books published in 2015, mine is an informal, much-rearranged list. There is always a chance with Star Wars books that my favorite will simply be the most recent.

1. Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

I liked Twilight Company's dark but not hopeless look at the "war" part of Star Wars before I heard Alexander Freed speak at New York Comic-Con, but it was when the excerpt was read aloud that I really started to appreciate the way every sentence twists like a knife. Even though it's a dark book and few characters in it even know what a Jedi is, Twilight Company presents one of the best, subtlest stories of redemption in the Star Wars galaxy. Also, Everi Chalis is a great, complex, unforgiving female character.

2. Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice by Jason Fry

I connected with the story of Zare and Dhara Leonis last year more than I thought I would, and ended up ravenous for the finale of this fantastic young reader series. It also lays the groundwork for the First Order training system from The Force Awakens.

3. Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

This is where the list gets difficult, so feel free to reshuffle these as you like. Both Aftermath and Weapon of a Jedi told really, really solid stories with characters who didn't quite stay with me as long as others have. Aftermath is a high-octane adventure written by a guy with a cool blog. I loved Sinjir, Jas, and Norra Wexley, but perhaps the high points of Aftermath for me were the interludes and unexplained asides, which made the Star Wars universe feel big, chaotic, and weird again.

4. Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry

My love for Luke tugs this one higher on the list, but it's also the second Jason Fry novel in this post for a reason. It treads some old ground (Luke finds an old Jedi Temple, meets useful friends, fights bad guys) in that comfortable, magical Star Wars way, and was my favorite of the Journey to the Force Awakens series.

5. Lost Stars by Claudia Gray

Both Lost Stars and Dark Disciple would be higher on the list were it not for their endings. Despite some of the qualms I had about it, Lost Stars also has one of the best, most exciting endings of any Star Wars book. Along with Twilight Company, Lost Stars really established the new feel of the Rebellion and the Empire, showing a morally complex Star Wars story about the decisions people make in wartime. 

6. Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Since it was adapted from unused scripts from The Clone Wars, Dark Disciple was bound to have the same color and action as the show. Despite some concerns, I found that this was still one of my top books of the year, because its vivid images of Dathomirian magic, lava fields, and even fancy dinner parties stuck with me. Asajj Ventress will always be one of my favorite characters.

I've also spent a lot of time and many words on some older Star Wars books, the complete list of which can be found here

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