Star Wars: Ahsoka by E K Johnston

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Star Wars: Ahsoka by E K Johnston

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Not an essential element of the Star Wars universe for the casual visitor, but this dramatic and character-full novel has some merit, showing the reality away from The Force-wielding heroes we know and love, as well as death-dealing and -defying action.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781405287906

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The problem with having a past is the worry it causes in the present, and the risk of it turning into your future. Ahsoka has certainly had a past – she was with Obi-Wan Kenobi, and was Padawan to Anakin Skywalker. While able to experience the Force, she was not a full Jedi, but still suffers survivor's guilt after Order 66 wiped her kind out. She is forced to hide deep in the Outer Rim of the galaxy, under an assumed name, on a tiny farming moon. But lo and behold the Imperial nasties still seem to find her, even if by accident...

I might not have been nearly so keen on reading this were Ahsoka not so linked to major, canonical Star Wars characters. I don't take to the cartoon series as being essential in my world, so a spin-off novel regarding someone from one of their worlds needs to do a lot to grab me. And this did just about enough.

For one thing, there is the sensibility of the story. It is all very well having the highly kinetic nature of the cinema stories, and to aspire to the same on the page, but I found a different nature to this book. At times it really takes us away from the dogfighting, lightsabre-wielding action, and gives us a look at what life under the nasties means – turning a gentle, agrarian moon into an industrial farm, changing people's shifts for the worse, and changing them again, and acting as if they were almost running a Nazi death camp. It's certainly a very PG-friendly representation of such topics, but existence in this galaxy far, far away is perfectly evoked.

That said, there are flaws. I felt a slight sort of wooziness to the telling, which meant that when the first major act of rebellion came about I had little idea what was happening – the writing wasn't quite competent enough to show me where people were and what they all were seeing and doing, when it certainly would have helped. (That said, there are elements that suitably, deliberately get hidden til they're needed, which works well.) The over-arching arc of the story is, on reflection, definitely one designed to get a character (ie Ahsoka) from defined set point A to defined set point B, but that comes with the territory of borrowing a character and giving us just a section of her own, pre-established narrative. Still, I've read some very weak stories set in this universe, and this, taking a decent storyline and presenting it in strong fashion ripe for the 9-to-12s, is on the opposite end of the spectrum – it's perfectly serviceable, and then some.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Star Wars The Force Awakens Novel by Michael Kogge is the YA novelisation of the seventh film in what Douglas Adams, knowing him, may always have maintained was a trilogy.

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