Monday, December 28, 2015

I LOVE Star Wars, But This?...Not So Much

Outcast (Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, #1)Outcast by Aaron Allston
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Is this lazy writing or a rushed production? Maybe it's both.

Aaron Allston's Outcast, in which the Jedi order is being subverted, kicks off the nine-novel "Fate of the Jedi" series for the Star Wars franchise. Allston would write three of the novels, while two other writers worked on the other six, and all this was done within three years.

That's a lot of writing in a short period. It would seem like they just wanted to pump this stuff out. I mean, nine books in three years is a lot. On the other hand, it's only one book per year for each writer. That should be doable without rushing things. Quality should be maintained.

However, some poor writing got published here. Too many smiles and glares are "offered" and "given". I lost count of the number of times an expressed emotion was given to someone else. After a while I stopped giving fucks.

Maybe Allston is a shitty writer. Or maybe he could've or would've done better given time. Outcast reads like an early draft in which place-holder text is left on the page in order to expedite the writing process. A writer at leisure would go back and revise, remove redundancies, vary the language, make sure the damn words have the correct meaning for what is being said, etc.

I don't care about the vast expo dumps or the tropes trooping about. This is a sci-fi soap opera. I get that. I'm just looking at this from a reader's perspective. The ability to run your eyes over the page without tripping up on some non-sensical sentiment or having the 4th wall busted down because a repetitious phrase is hitting your eyes with the consistency and irritation of a Chinese water torture device.

That truly is unfortunate, because if you're a Star Wars fan, young or old, there's good to be found within these pages. The action scenes (occasionally gratuitous now and then, but not a big quibble) are handled well. Plus, our old friends Luke, Leia, Han, C3P0 and R2D2 are all here. Joining them are a platoon of sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and grandkids. The warm-fuzzy of familiarity brought on by beloved characters goes a long way in fostering forgiveness for a book's other faults.

Aunts...Who Needs 'Em?!

Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (Jeeves, #15)Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A case of pink spots on Bertie's chest (maybe it's a touch of malaria, who's to say?) sends him to the country on doctor's orders to rest and relax. Rest and relax? If you've ever read a Wodehouse, you know that's not bloody likely.

Troublesome aunts, daffy explorers, strong-willed dames along with their ardent suitors, crusty landlords, and charming cats all conspire against poor old Bertie Wooster. His butler Jeeves seems to be his only ally in this perpetually-yet-vaguely 1920s, god-help-us world.

Wodehouse did it again! Well into his Jeeves & Wooster series, the insanely prolific writer of the early-to-mid 20th century churned out another quality book replete with a finely paced plot, delightfully nutty characters and enough laughs to fill The Laugh Factory with wall-to-wall guffaws.

At this point, I'm predisposed to enjoy anything by Wodehouse, so perhaps Aunts Aren't Gentlemen has received a gratuitous star in the ratings from me. If you're already a fan, this will crank your chucklebox. If you're new to Wodehouse, I might suggest -NAY!- I would suggest starting with something else. Go ahead, ask me. I'm full of suggestions!

READER'S NOTE: Aunts Aren't Gentlemen is alternately titled The Cat-Nappers.

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