Aftermath: Life Debt
Aftermath: Life Debt
Book 2 of the Aftermath Trilogy
While I wasn’t a fan of Aftermath, I was pleasantly surprised by Aftermath: Life Debt. With this entry in the trilogy, Chuck Wendig takes his cast of characters and mixes them up with the heroes we all grew up with. By taking those new characters on an adventure that crosses paths with Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia, the story gains a certain relevancy worthy of the time period. It adds weight to the story and it fills in some of the gaps The Force Awakens conjured up. Not to mention the fact that the book follows up on one of the best story ideas out there: Han and Chewie liberating Kashyyyk from the Empire. Touching on points like that, Life Debt strikes just the right chords for a fun, enjoyable Star Wars story.
Like Aftermath, this book continues Wendig’s style of third person present tense narration. It was also a bit of a slow burn for me as I didn’t really get into the story till somewhere after the first 100 pages. Part of the reason is the amount of time it takes to adjust to the unique writing style, while the other part of it just getting back into the mind space of the characters. Norra, Temmin, Jas, Sinjir, Mr. Bones and Jom all return for this novel as the main cast. It’s a large enough cast that readers are likely to find someone they like. For me, Mr Bones is certainly one of my favorites, but the others all have their moments, too. Norra continues to fall into the motherly role, not only raising her son Temmin, but with keeping the entire squad together and on task. Jas and Sinjir both become a little lost as they struggle to figure out what they’re doing in life, while Temmin bounces around from being mentored by Wedge Antilles and the stress of his broken family life. There’s a good amount of character focus for each of the cast and it keeps things interesting.
Another familiar aspect in this book is the continuation of the interludes. There aren’t nearly as many as the previous book, but they continue to be fascinating glimpses into the galaxy at large. The interludes in Life Debt also build upon the interludes from Aftermath, utilizing some of the same characters and continuing the stories that started there. Some of them are just fun, such as the chapter that reveals the fate of the Rancor keeper. Others are very touching, like the news crew filming the frontlines of the war and encountering the tragedies first hand. There’s even an interlude that takes place in Maz Kanata’s castle.
Speaking of Maz, Life Debt benefits from The Force Awakens in that it’s now able to build upon and tie-in to the sequel trilogy films. The events in the book reveal some of the breadcrumbs that lead to the First Order. There’s some exploration of Han and Leia’s post-Return of the Jedi relationship. Plus readers get a glimpse of the early days of the New Republic’s government and Mon Mothma’s leadership. And let us not forget that Temmin is Snap Wexley, one of the pilots in The Force Awakens. So in a way, the Aftermath trilogy is like the young adventures of Snap. While there aren’t any clues on who Snoke is what Luke is up to, the book does explore other areas that help make it feel like a part of one greater story.
As far as the main plot goes, there are several adventures that play out. Early on, Norra and her squad of Imperial hunters go after an Imp hidden in some criminal’s impenetrable fortress. Afterwards they cross paths with Leia who sends them off to find Han who’s gone missing. That sends them on a series of missions as they track down a mastermind behind Imperial prisons, link up with Han, then go off to save Kashyyyk. Elsewhere Leia juggles trying to help out with Han’s rescue and convincing Mon Mothma to do the right thing. Then there’s Grand Admiral Rae Sloane who has her own story thread dealing with the mysterious admiral from the last book, retaining what remains of the Empire, and planning on an attack to help her regain the initiative. All the story threads bounce around and criss-cross each other, which makes for a fun adventure overall.
For those who might have struggled through Aftermath, I recommend giving Life Debt a chance. The story integrates into the Star Wars universe a lot better with the inclusion of Han and Leia, and the liberation of Kashyyyk serves as a much more interesting storythread than the liberation of Akiva. You might need a bit of time to warm up to the narration and characters, but it’s worth it as it pays off in the end. I really enjoyed what Wendig did with the characters, and there’s some great character moments throughout. The plot keeps a nice, twisting evolution that keeps you guessing at what will come next. As a superior follow-up to Aftermath, I give Life Debt a four out of five metal bikinis.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.