When compared to other young adult Star Wars novels, Ahsoka isn’t the most satisfying. However, that’s coming from an adult and we all have to admit that isn’t the intended target audience. Still, we’ve seen some really good stuff from other young adult Star Wars novels. Ahsoka falls short in the amount of Ahsoka’s story that it tells, and the reading level it’s told at. That said, it’s one of the few books we have with Ahsoka in it and the only canon novel with her in it. For Ahsoka fans, even if it isn’t the greatest book, it’s still a must read and enjoyable.
One thing that would have helped this book is the scope. This novel focuses heavily on a small time frame in Ahsoka’s life, just one year after Revenge of the Sith. We get to see her messing around on one planet and a moon, and places in between. She leads a little rebel cell, runs into an Inquisitor, and joins up with Bail Organa’s rebellion. That’s the core of the story. Most of it is told through Ahsoka’s viewpoint but other characters get some page time as well. Sadly, most of the other characters are not interesting, so their viewpoints are wasted page time when we could be getting more of Ahsoka. The one exception is Bail Organa who E. K. Johnston does a great job with.
On top of that core story is some very brief, very tantalizing glimpses of Ahsoka’s past. These little bits of the story are the most intriguing parts. There’s mention of her childhood and avoiding being kidnapped before the Jedi could discover her. There’s a scene showing her last words with Anakin. There’s a cool snippet of what happened at the battle of Mandalore between her and Maul. The problem with all of these things is that they are teases. Each one felt like a missed opportunity to explore those events. Readers are given a taste, then the story is put back in the fridge and you have to go on eating this little adventure on Raada or Thabeska. By contrasting these great story opportunities with the average one we’re stuck with, the main plotline suffers. It reminds you of what you could have, then sticks you with something mediocre.
When you compare Ahsoka with the likes of Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars or Ryder Windham’s Wrath of Darth Maul, the shortcomings become very apparent. In each of those books, the authors were able to explore the characters with a much broader scope covering a lot more of the timeline. With Lost Stars, readers got to see Ciena and Thane grow up, get training at the Imperial academy, and go to war. In The Wrath of Darth Maul, we got to see Maul as a child and his training at an early age under Sidious. Through the book, we see Maul shaped into something harsh and vengeful until ultimately his training is complete. Both books cover decades and are largely satisfying with ambitious scopes and well developed characters. Ahsoka goes in the opposite direction.
Then there is the reading level which is a little bit simplified. This one feels like a book for kids. Of course Ahsoka is based on a cartoon series targeted at kids. While fans of Star Wars Rebels fit right in for this book’s targets audience, it actually skews a bit low for Star Wars: The Clone Wars fans. For adults who are fans of both shows, the reading level is really apparent. Whether it’s the simplistic, straight forward plotline or the lack of details, the story doesn’t provoke a lot of thought with the main plot. There’s some hand waving and overly convenient plot developments that speed the story along rather than giving readers something to dig into and enjoy. Furthermore, the villains are underdeveloped without any layers to make them feel like believable people. The only characters you can attach to and enjoy are Ahsoka, maybe one or two of the Raada rebels, and Bail. Plus the book doesn’t take the time to explore the places that Ahsoka visits to truly immerse the reader in the world. The environments are roughly described and they’re neglected. You never get a firm grasp on what Raada or Thabeska are really like. For instance, Raada is a moon with farms on it. How big of a moon is it? How many farmers are on it? Is there just one town? How long have they been there? What drew people to the moon? Why is there only one area on the moon that people can farm on? How is the moon ruled? Is there a government? Is there a larger entity that protects them and helps manage trade with the greater galaxy? Details like that are overlooked. The story doesn’t provide much for readers to get invested in when it comes to the characters, the places or even the plot.
All that said, you have a starved audience who wants anything Ahsoka. That’s why this book is number one on the New York Times best sellers list. Even with this book being merely good rather than great, I’d eagerly buy five more Ahsoka novels written by E. K. Johnston. Like the rest of fandom, I want more, and if this is all they’re giving us, I’ll take it.
Ahsoka isn’t as good as Lost Stars or The Wrath of Darth Maul, but in the famished desert of Ahsoka fandom, this is the best we’ve got. Hopefully we’ll get more as the battle of Mandalore in itself is worth its own book, and I’d love to get more on Ahsoka’s early life and her break between The Clone Wars and Revenge of the Sith. Ahsoka fulfills some of that desire, enough so that I’d give it a three out of five metal bikinis and that’s largely because Ahsoka is one of my favorite Star Wars characters.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.