Firstly, because there was a whole hullabaloo around it involving bigots upset at the reasonable portrayal of a diverse galaxy, and five year olds in the bodies of grown men (mostly) crying about the old Extended Universe being axed, and so they must automatically shun the new canon, as if the people writing those new books didn’t love the old books as much as they did and wouldn’t do their best to preserve as much of it as they could. (Also, what a stupid protest. Totally ineffective. This book was a bestseller almost immediately.) There also seems to be a proliferation of reviews stating Aftermath is poorly written (it’s not); that it wasn’t the book they wanted, many comparing it to Zahn’s original trilogy (you should never put your own expectations on a book, ever–guaranteed failure right there); and that it was boring. This last complaint I am BAFFLED by. Did we even read the same book?
And secondly, because I’ve never really liked any of the Chuck Wendig books that I’ve read. His style tends to grate on me, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to overcome that. His prose is very in your face, and his style tends to draw attention to itself by design. (I prefer books that allow you to sink into a story and forget you’re even reading. This is harder to do for me with his writing.) It bears repeating I think that just because you don’t care for an author’s writing style, that does NOT mean it’s “badly written.”
So yeah, it was a bit hard for me to overcome all that baggage when I just wanted to read a book that I could escape into. Thankfully, once I actually picked it up, and spent several pages getting acclimated to the writing style (which is one of the main things working against this book–he really would have been much better served to pick any POV other than third person present tense–added to his already, er, unique writing style, it’s just too much). I also noticed that occasionally, he’d have his characters speak colloquially, and instead of using Star Wars terms, he’d slip in our slang and our way of talking, and it pulled me out every time.
But even with those hurdles, this was overall a fun reading experience. You can tell that Chuck Wendig really fucking loves Star Wars. He has a nice grasp on the spaciness of it all, and the political situation between the Empire and the Rebellion, now the New Republic (that name being one of the many things that is staying the same in the new canon), and I genuinely liked all of his main characters. The story is a simple one. In the wake of the destruction of the second Death Star, a ragtag group of people come together on the Outer Rim planet, Akiva. The Empire has gathered there to decide how to move forward, and everyone’s favorite pilot, Wedge Antilles, has gotten himself captured gathering intel. Rebel pilot Norra Wexley has returned home to Akiva for the first time in three years, and with her fifteen year old prodigy son (he builds robots and stuff), a bounty hunter there to capitalize on the dense concentration of Imperial targets, and a deserter from the Imperial Starfleet–a former loyalty officer nonetheless–has to rescue Wedge from the Imperials. Things go haywire of course, but it hits all the right notes and it all builds to an exciting swashbuckling conclusion.
I will definitely be checking out the second two books in this trilogy, and I’m super glad I didn’t listen to the haters.