A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I started reading these books…
The Star Wars Expanded Universe is a big place, and one that's easy to get lost in. To the extent that my bookshelf allows, every Tuesday I will be guiding you through the EU with (generally) chronologically placed reviews of Star Wars novels.
Sorry this one took me so long- I really have no excuse, other than being busy. At least I got it out the right week, but to make up for it, I'm giving you a two in one special. I'm reviewing The Clone Wars by Karen Traviss, and as a companion, here's the link to my review of the movie this is based off.a
Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are in the midst of a perilous battle for the fate of a distant world when, instead of the supplies they need, they receive a headstrong young girl and a mission that it's all Skywalker can do to accept: risk the lives of his troops to save the son of gangster Jabba the Hutt. But as usual when Skywalker is involved, there's more than one obstacle and more than one powerful being determined to see him die before this mission ends.
This is my first chronological review since Karen Traviss bowed out of the future of the Expanded Universe, so it's only fitting that it's to review what might now be her first (chronological) addition to the EU. Unfortunately, this novel and everything accompanying it (as well as the pre-existing works in this area) is now involved in a massive upheaval and it's impossible to chronologically place anything that doesn't include the exact date within the content of the novel. This book doesn't, so who knows when it is?
Where to start? The Clone Wars is, of course, a movie novelization. It's not just another novelization, though, and this is a huge point to Karen Traviss. Anybody who's followed my reviews or posts knows that my biggest issue with novelizations is that they recognize themselves as such, losing dramatic storytelling potential for the sake of recognizability. Anybody's who's familiar with Karen Traviss understands equally well that if you're expecting what would normally be the predictable result, you're not getting what you expect by the time you start reading the novel. The Clone Wars follows the same overall storyline as the movie, of course, but it's only by this content that it can be called a novelization- this is no word for word translation of the script to novel format.
Let me start with the negatives to this format, since it's something I've been begging for since the ANH novelization was written by Alan Dean Foster. Since the same plot points needed to be hit without the exact same story being followed, some points seemed completely pointless or random. This pretty much involves characters that were pretty pointless and/or random in the movie itself, but at least their scenes are shorter and, thanks to the writing of three different people who were probably directed to cater more to popcorn fans and recognition value than to the story, no more random or pointless.
Actually, that's about it as to the negatives of this format. In terms of negatives in general, well, I already mentioned that some of it was pretty random and contrived. Some characters seem to have repeating monologues, like they have a speech stuck in their head instead of a song. The plot is pretty odd, as the cover-up involved requires a pretty big stretch of the imagination, and there's really no purpose whatsoever to have fan favorites like Padme appear in the way she does (you see how I included the pointless reason in my complaint?)?
Basically, I liked this novel much better than the movie. It was a little odd in its way and not too long, but it was pretty good. It got deep into the heads of many characters, showing varying points of view (though many who lamented the lack of a specific pro-Jedi voice would disagree), and altogether gave a much more thorough understanding of shades of grey than we're accustomed to. This is something that's becoming more common in Star Wars, and something I've grown used to seeing in Traviss's writing most of all. The ending, in particular, is something that really stands out as a work of Traviss- it really summarizes things in a meaningful way, and grows the characters. I would recommend The Clone Wars to anybody who's not already dead set against Traviss's works, as they're the only people I could see disliking this.