“If you expected a big drumroll to The Rise of Skywalker; you will be disappointed”
“In this pivotal prequel to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the heroes of the Resistance—Poe Dameron, General Leia Organa, Rey, and Finn—must fight back from the edge of oblivion”
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse was a highly anticipated novel, as many people assumed that it would set fans up for The Rise of Skywalker and many editors and VIP’s hyped it up on social media.
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn | By Rebecca Roanhorse
The book starts out strong with a dying pilot transmitting an encryption key to her last ally on Corellia. She is a Resistance pilot but flies a (presumably) stolen TIE fighter and is shot down. Her death is sad but you feel peace for the pilot as she manages to transmit the info before her ship is destroyed. The book does something very similar to Chuck Wendig’s “Aftermath” series by cutting away to different characters and storylines. This is a common practice in many novels AND Star Wars movies themselves, but I feel the transition here is often clumsy.
The main story takes place mere days after The Last Jedi with Leia on the Millennium Falcon, grappling with grief and frustration after losing virtually everyone in the Resistance and many personal friends. Leia shares a moment with Rey and briefly speaks about her “former” son Ben Solo, and that only he can decide to come back from the dark side and redeem himself. It is a tough moment for a parent to say that they cannot help their child, but Rey’s ocean metaphor gives her hope that the Resistance can rebuild. The drops of water in the bucket (new allies gathered) can form a mighty ocean.
Poe is also struggling with something difficult at the beginning of the novel. He is haunted with guilt over his mistakes over Crait in which he lost the fleet due to his insubordination and is technically responsible for the death of Admiral Holdo. Roanhorse’s writing of Poe’s reluctance to tell his squadron was I admit, well written and when the truth finally does come out (super early in the novel); Black Squadron still supports him. Poe sends Snap Wexley and his wife to recruit Wedge Antilles and his wife Nora Wexley. Nora will be very familiar to fans of the books, as she was the main character in the Aftermath trilogy. Now she is older and still crazy as ever.
Poe’s squad splits up and Poe and BB-8 try to recruit Maz Kanata (my favorite Sequel Trilogy character). Maz is relaxing on a planet known for its spas and it makes me smile when an entire planet is devoted to a single biome or function. Maz is characterised to be very eccentric which matches up with the character we know, and she is completely against joining the Resistance since the castle she loved was destroyed by the First Order. Poe wonders if her 1,000-year lifespan has made her apathetic to the suffering of others and it resonates in me, as I often wonder if this will really happen to people here on Earth, who in the future; may have extremely increased longevity. Maz, however, channels Yoda’s “Wars not make one great” to Poe as she doesn’t fight with “armadas or Starfighters,” Even though she won’t join the Resistance as a leader, she does give Poe some information that ends up the center of the story. The First Order has a list of Resistance sympathizers and is arresting them left and right, possibly explaining why nobody answered Leia’s call for help in The Last Jedi.
We are then introduced to a man named Windshur on Corellia, who is rising in his job under the First Order. He is the First Order’s executive records officer in Coronet City, Corellia and is ambitious and wants to be promoted. He is a petty, cowardly jerk and treats his assistants like bantha poodoo. He judges the female one, Yama on her looks and finds it revolting, that the male one, Monti wants to get lunch with him. Here is where Roanhorse’s character writing starts to go downhill and in my opinion; the story as well. Roanhorse can’t seem to make up her mind about Windshur and his behaviour and thoughts are inconsistent and stratified. Is he a cutthroat psycho or just a loyal worker who means well? Who knows?
Wedge and Nora live on a farm on Akiva and it is interesting to me how many characters depicted in Star Wars chose to leave all the technological advancements behind and live a simple, rural life. Perhaps the cold, unfeeling metallic “future” makes some people depressed? Snap and his wife Kare tell Wedge and Nora that everyone is gone, and Wedge is shaken and can’t believe Luke Skywalker could die. Windshur, back at his office, receives an urgent and confidential message on his datapad. I can’t help but laugh that even though the datapad projects holographic images; it still needs to be charged, load documents like an internet browser and require a physical password like many of us Earthlings have to deal with, with the dreaded iPhone. Roanhorse pulls a little too much from reality, and I will touch upon that later. Anyways, Windshur receives documents of the type Maz warned Poe about. Lists of people the First Order arrested, plans to arrest and 15 prisoners who are being transferred to Corellia to be under Windshurr’s supervision.
Leia and the full cast of the Sequel trilogy travel to Ryloth on fumes and are quickly picked up by a Ryloth “secret police” force called the RPA. However, things become strange when they are hailed by Ryloth’s main government. Leia asks Rey to answer the call, and the headstrong, independent and brave Rey we know is at a loss for words. She’s endured so many difficult trials and she can’t even sweet-talk some government officials? Very out of character to say the least. Leia and crew meet up with the Twi’lek scholar Yendor who begrudgingly agrees to house them in his underground base. Then the poodoo really starts to hit the fan when Yendor learns that the First Order is “coincidentally” visiting on Ryloth to add the planet to their empire and will blockade the planet in 5 days if their conditions are not met.
All of the Resistance assembles at Yendor’s base and meanwhile, we learn that Windshur’s male assistant Monti has stolen his boss’s datapad and is selling “The list” to a mysterious operative from the Collective. The Collective is an organization that sounds super interesting but ends up being disappointing as we learn nothing about it. Yes, I agree that a SECRET organization is ultra-cool; however, I would like to have known some of the things they’ve done. Back on Ryloth, we actually get a relatively good scene where the pilots who have arrived on Ryloth, question each other’s loyalties since some of them are ex-Imperials and First Order defects. Poe is called out and he publicly apologizes for his mistakes over Crait, and in my favorite moment of the book, Leia cuts in with “My father was Darth Vader. Does anyone here question my loyalty to the Resistance?” It’s extremely powerful and briefly gave me hope that the climax would be exciting, but unfortunately, the A, B, C and D stories fail to impress.
The Resistance gets a call from Maz who reveals she has a part of “The List” and the full list is being auctioned off at a birthday party on Corellia, hosted by the wealthy Nifera; the same Collective operative who acquired the list from Monti. In a slightly (I feel) pointless mission, the heroes want to win the auction for the list to help save people on it, acquire some ships from a junkyard world to bolster their squadrons and rescue the 15 prisoners under Windshur’s supervision since one of them is rumored to be Leia’s old “frenemy”; former Senator Ransolm Casterfo who was presumed dead at the end of the book Bloodline.
While these missions make sense, I honestly don’t think any of them are worth risking lives for with so little people to helm the missions. Finn and Poe are assigned to infiltrate the auction as wealthy benefactors and fans will finally get to see a Poe/Finn mission (one that was originally planned for The Last Jedi but Poe was replaced with Rose to give it chemistry). Finn is honestly: ANNOYING. His comments and dialogue seem out of place in the Star Wars universe and I really don’t have any interest in him due to his strange characterization. This book also likes to promote the New Big Three and every 5 seconds, people remark how handsome Poe is. Sure, Oscar Isaac is good looking but they act like he’s Adonis. Also what really is annoying is that Finn doesn’t use his brain. He found a tie (huh?) in the abandoned base on Crait that has an Alliance Starbird on it and insists on wearing it to the party. Between him and the pilot on the starship retrieval mission who wants to just randomly attack Stormtroopers; it’s no wonder the Resistance is in such bad shape.
Poe refuses to wear a wig because he’s obsessed with his hair (sigh) and almost gets identified by a Stormtrooper when he arrives in disguise at the party. So “Uncle Jessie” and Keenan Thompson begin to mingle and eat food and make more silly comments while waiting for the auction to begin. Windshur is busy being repeatedly pimpslapped by his superior officer, Genial who is like a cardboard cutout, and figures out Monti transferred the list and accuses Windshur of ordering him to do so. Instead of just arresting him, he decides to give Windshur mercy, if he helps him shut down the auction. At the auction, Finn and Poe lose half their credits in a “forced donation” and then just lose the bidding entirely. The salvage mission or Story B is successful though tedious and boring to read and Story A ends with the Poe and Finn auction being attacked by the bad guys, and them escaping with Nifera, who agrees to give them the list if they save her. B meets up with C (Wedge’s team) who manage to rescue the prisoners with the help of Windshurr’s female assistant Yama. Everything works out and they all escape to meet up with Leia’s skeleton crew (Story D) who remained on Ryloth. Rey and Leia had to leave Ryloth because the First Order came knocking and in this situation, Rey has been almost completely useless. They all meet up at a “safe house” with the list and decide to spread out across the galaxy- again. Ugh.
This book started off strong but it quickly devolved into a mess. Roanhorse is a good writer but she is terrible with dialogue and structuring interactions between the characters. This statement may seem contradictory, but it’s a writing thing. Some of the exchanges were like nails on a chalkboard and something just seems “off” with everyone. The New Big Three are just dull and annoying to read and Poe gives the same recycled hope speech 3 times. The plot had a four-pronged story but none of them was fun and exciting and if you expected a big drumroll to The Rise of Skywalker; you will be disappointed. You really DON’T have to read this book to prepare for TROS. It isn’t mandatory reading and the events that transpire offer NOTHING to the story. It’s all filler.
Also, as a final note, I need to report that this book simply did not feel like a Star Wars adventure. It felt too real world like it could have easily taken place on Earth. Finn and Poe talk like 21st-century hipsters and none of the tech, mannerisms, professions or customs strikes you as something otherworldly. I actually strangely noticed the general absence of droids. Usually in Star Wars, they are ubiquitous and replace sentient’s menial jobs, but in this story, there seem to be just organics doing everything. Granted Black Spire was somewhat like that as well, but in that case, Black Spire was actually GOOD and fun to read. I am extremely disappointed and it breaks my heart, but I must give this book 1 ½ out of 5 Death Stars.
Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse is published by Del Rey/Penguin Random House Books and is available to buy NOW.
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Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!