Sunday, 13 December 2015

Book Review: Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars: Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...
Star Wars..... what can I say about Star Wars?  It has been part of my life since... well, since I was able to talk, to be honest. Growing up in the early 80's, my older brother Rich made sure I had no choice but to like Star Wars, which I thank him for and as a result we both made sure our younger brother Tom was also given no option. I remember when I started play school (Nursery, Kindergarten) at the age of 3 or 4 I came home every day and asked my mum if I could watch Star Wars. "Again ?" she would ask. "Yes" was always my response. Before I started proper school I could quote  nearly all the film back to you. To my mum's disgust, she could quote 75% of the film as well because it was always on!! I thought this was great. Every time Star Wars was on TV we had to tape it because the VHS tapes always got damaged due to the number of times we used to watch it. When I say Star Wars I meant A New Hope because in those days it was a good 3-5 years from when a film was at the cinema to when it was shown on TV. Empire Strikes back was not on TV till '85 and Return of the Jedi till '88. Of course when they were on TV I watched them just as much. The majority of my toys growing up were Star Wars. I still have some of those now. It is a shame we never kept the boxes though, as they are worth quite a bit of money now. Still to this day I don't think there is a week that goes by where I don't think or quote from Star Wars. It could be telling someone not to be so angry because anger leads to the dark side or pretending the steel pipe of the vacuum cleaner is a Light Saber whilst I tidy up, or even just randomly start breathing like Darth Vader whilst you do your weekly shop. Plus, lets be honest, who has never actually tried to use the Force? 
When I heard that they were making Episode 7 I was so excited -  I was transported back to being a little kid waking up on Christmas morning. At the start of the year they released news that a new book was to be written to bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This was to be called Aftermath. As soon as I could pre-order this book I made sure I did, so that it would be delivered on publication day. It has actually been a while since I have read a Star Wars book having bought all the in between books when the prequel movies were released. Some of the first books I ever read were the Thrawn trilogy by Timothy Zhan which I loved.
Star Wars: Aftermath Story: - The second Death Star has been destroyed, The Emperor dead and Darth Vader struck down. The Empire are down to small numbers whilst the Rebel Alliance celebrate this major victory. However, the Imperial threat and the battle for freedom is far from over. Whilst searching the outer rim of the Galaxy,  Wedge Antilles comes across a planet called Akiva,  with what seems to be a small gathering of Imperial Star Destroyers circling it. On the surface of Akiva, a Rebel fighter returns home - she left her planet and family to fight in the recent war for freedom on Endor. What is she returning to? Is her home still there, do her family understand her reasons for fighting? Not long after getting back home, she receives Wedge Antilles' urgent distress call and realises that the war is not yet over. The Imperial Elite are trying to maintain the power of the Empire despite the loss of the Emperor and Vader. She joins forces with her son and a group from the capital city. Can this small group stop the Imperials,  or are they now powerful enough to make their next move to rule the Galaxy...
My biggest fear before reading this book, was that because you love something so much, whether it be a favourite band, actor, or in my case Star Wars,  it may not live up to my enormous expectations.  I really would not want to have to say negative things about it.  I felt my fears were coming true during the first 50 pages of the book. I was confused and could not get my bearings as to where I was or what was going on. There are a number of very short chapters that introduce a number of locations to the story.  Thankfully, once things started to get clearer the story became a lot better. The story is split in two parts really. The main story follows Nora, the returned Rebel fighter. The second part follows Admiral Slone and the remaining Imperial Elite as they plan what is next for the Empire. Every couple of chapters there is an interlude from a different planet in the Galaxy, which I really liked. Although nothing to do with the main storyline, the interlude is simply an update on what is going on around the Galaxy and changes to the particular planet since the last Death Star was destroyed. The story has everything you would expect from a Star Wars story from fight scenes with blasters to space ships and land machines.
I really liked how the author wrote this book. You could tell he was a huge Star Wars fan just by the way he wrote and described things.  Because this book is just a small part in a bigger world this particular story does end, but as you know it does not really end because in the world of Star Wars the stories can go on forever.
The characters in this book were great, there was such a wide range of people, creatures, robots and droids to give it a real Star Wars feel. Nora, one of the main characters we all know even though we don't know ha ha! She is in one of the A wing fighters  at the end of Return of the Jedi who takes a few of the Tie-Fighters away in the Death Star,  so Lando and Wedge can destroy it. However if you are not familiar with the Star Wars world then I think you will be really confused and have no idea who the characters are. You really do need to know your stuff for them all to make sense. Apart from all the new characters a lot of the ones we all know and love made small appearances. There was Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Wedge, Admiral Ackbar , just to name a few.
I think if you love the Star Wars world you should read this book. I don't know if it will have anything to do with the new film or not. I believe it is just a "what has been happening since" book but well worth a read.
I scored this book a 4 out of 5. For me, as stated above the start was a bit confusing and also if you wanted to read this as a stand alone sci-fi book then I don't think you will like it. It says at the beginning of the book that this will be a trilogy of books so I cannot wait to see the next instalment.
I would love to know what people think that have read this book. Do you agree with me or not. Let me know.. Also I would love to know other peoples Star Wars stories and how you became to love this franchise.
Speak soon
PS. May the Force be with you.... Always!

Friday, 11 December 2015

Book Review: Whatever you Love by Louise Doughty

Whatever you Love
Louise Doughty
This book was bought for me by my wife last Christmas. I finally managed to get it read in time for this Christmas... Just. This is my second Louise Doughty book I have read after reading Apple Tree Yard last year.
Laura's daughter Betty is nine and has just been killed in a hit and run incident. Her life is ruined. Laura's grief sets off a very painful memory about her divorce from Betty's father David. Things get worse when Betty's death is ruled an accident and Laura decides the only thing to do is to get her own revenge on the monster that did this. Is this the last thing Laura will ever do?
This book is written in two parts. Before the accident and after the accident. It then flicked between the two. I really like how this was done because you learned all about Laura, how she met her husband and what her life was like before Betty came alone. Louise has a great way of sucking you into the story from the off. There is just enough on each page to keep your mind guessing and to get you to want more. This made the book a real page turner for me. Sometimes you get books that just don't flow but this one did.
The story in it's self is very dark. Death of a child is up there as one of the worst you can get. Laura is a character you really feel for, for what she has gone through, but unless you have been through this personally you will never know what goes on in someone's mind.
The characters in this book were great. Laura & David were the two main ones and the story really centred around them. This gave a feel that put you there with them. The other characters were supporting actors in a way. This was not a bad thing though as I believe the story did not need them to have any bigger parts.
I loved this book... That is until the end. For me I'm afraid it just did not feel right. The ending did not live up to what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong it was not a really bad ending, I was a bit "oh" maybe it is because when you read something that is so good you build your hopes up for something bigger.
I scored this book a 4 out of 5. The ending for me stopped this from being a 5, but it is a great book. If you are into thrillers, psychological thrillers & mysteries then I believe you will love this book.
I would like to know what everyone else thinks that has read this book? do you agree with me or not? Let me know.
Speak soon