Tag: Young Adult Science Fiction

Star Wars: The High Republic Chapter Sampler by Justina Ireland & Claudia Gray

First off, thank you so much to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to peruse these first few chapters of Star Wars: The High Republic lit. It is a tad hard to describe my fandom with Star Wars other than omnivorish. Over the last few decades, I have consumed any and all Star Wars novels, junior adaptations, comic books, etc., and I have been very excited to see how Disney Books was going to be approaching the new “High Republic” timeline.

First up was a few chapters from Justina Ireland’s A Test of Courage. This junior-aimed novel, set a couple of centuries before the events of The Phantom Menace, follows the young Mirialan Jedi Vernestra Rwoh (don’t call her Vern) as she escorts Senatorial daughter Avon Starros (a precocious inventor) to the unveiling of a new space station: the Starlight Beacon.

Being a junior novel, the fare is pretty lighthearted, but quite engaging just from the small sample that I was able to read. You definitely get a grasp of the primary characters’ personalities quite quickly, and I’m quite excited for the full release.

Next in the sampler was Into the Dark by Claudia Gray. Ms. Gray is no stranger to the Star Wars Universe having written such great story bridges as Bloodline, Lost Stars, and Master & Apprentice.

The start of Into the Dark is no different. The Reader definitely gets a feel for the tone right off the bat with the introduction of the primary character: Padawan Learner Reath Silas.

Reath is being sent off to the Starlight Beacon a part of a Jedi delegation for the unveiling of the space station. Tagging along are Jedi Orla Jareni and Jedi Cohmac Vitus who have previous experience in the area where Starlight Beacon is being built. At least a portion of the sample provided jumps into a flashback of them on a mission there twenty-five years before the current adventure takes place.

By far my favorite characters introduced in this short excerpt are the transport pilot, Leox Gyasi, and his apprentice/copilot Affie Hollow: both from the Outer Rim-situated Byrne Guild. Both of these characters, along with their navigator Geode, bring some fantastic levity and opportunity for some real mirth.

I think the true underlying “star” of the entire run of The High Republic releases is going to be the mysterious “Great Disaster.” There is some hinting to it in what we had to read from Into the Dark, but, like a good sampler, the reader is just left wanting more.

I, for one, cannot wait.

Ready Player Two (Ready Player One #2) by Ernest Cline

I have to preface this review by saying that I really really really enjoyed the intrigue, high tension, pop culture nerdery and all the oodles of easter eggs that Mr. Cline dropped into the first book. That was some prime world and character building.

This effort, however, just doesn’t get out of the gate, and I think the editorial team is who is ultimately to blame.

Ready Player Two opens with the High Five having taken over GSS and setting everything in motion to advance technology and provide a more realistic experience in the OASIS thanks to another discovery of some tech that Halliday created before his death.

Where everything starts to tumble is when we drop into what I like to call “poor Wade” mode. I’m not going to go into a lot of it because it was a complete drudge, but the most infuriating part of the entire first half of the book was the complete overuse of foreshadowing, and a total lack of action. This is what was most disappointing: Ready Player One was all about action and survival while Ready Player Two presents us an OASIS-addicted hermit with a shitty attitude and a rigorous workout regime.

In the second half of the book, however, we go back into quest mode and the reading becomes enjoyable again. Once again we have the pop culture mega-nerdery with tricky puzzles and strange quest fights, and all is right with the world. The problem is, half of the readers have already rage quit the book before getting to this halfway point.

Honestly, the first half of the book could have been summarized in just a couple of chapters. Hell, it could have all been done in an introduction; and a good editor would have pointed that out.

Ready Player Two is a huge case of an author overestimating the patience of his audience. I pray there is no Ready Player Three.