Kris Van de Sande
Star Wars Books 2016 – Year in Review

We have a new guest contributor at EndorExpress! In his first post, Joshua O’Neill dives into the book releases of 2016 and lists his favorite along with a few additional comments. If you haven’t gotten into the books, hopefully this can be a helpful look at where to start! -David Yeh

As the year comes to a close, and while we’re all reveling in and arguing about the merits of Rogue One, it’s time to take a look back at 2016 in books. While a new Star Wars movie a year is amazing, the presence of a story group and the regular release of canon novels and comics makes the galaxy a much bigger and more connected playground.  I personally love the books, though I had never picked up a Star Wars novel until the new canon was created, but I’m really glad I did. In 2015, Star Wars publishing produced standouts like Dark Disciple, Tarkin, and Twilight Company and this year was solid as well. I’m not going to summarize the novels but I will give you my pros and cons, or in this case, light and dark side for each.  They’re also ordered below from favorite to least favorite.

Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig (July 12, 2016)

Set between the events of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, the never-before-told story that began with Star Wars: Aftermath continues in this thrilling novel, the second book of Chuck Wendig’s bestselling trilogy.

The Light Side: After a clunky debut novel, the Aftermath series bounced back with Life Debt. The team which includes a young Snap Wexley and his mother, a heroically homicidal battle droid, a Zabrak assassin, a former imperial intelligence officer , and a tough as nails rebel grunt really worked for me the second time around. I’ve become attached to these characters and their growth in their second outing has made me care about each of them. They’re the team that shouldn’t work, but they do as they venture across the galaxy on a resuce mission  in search of a missing Han Solo and Chewie. Rae Sloane and the emerging threat of new villain Gallius Rax make for great villains, and continue to make you guess as to how they play into the New Order of The Force Awakens (Is he Snoke?).  With the conclusion of this book, you can clearly see Jakku on the horizon. Here’s hoping February’s Empire’s End brings it all home with a satisfying finish.

The Dark Side: The interstitial stories are still a bit clunky, and disrupt the flow. There was more payoff this time around, and they give a peek into the events of the galaxy, but the non-sequitur  bugs me.

Read it if: 

  • You enjoy the expansion of stories in the Star Wars Universe to focus on new or lesser-known characters. This might be the quality my favorite Star Wars novels have in common.
  • You want to know how the galaxy found itself in the state it’s in around the time of The Force Awakens.
  • You loved R2-D2, BB-8 and K2-SO, and feel the need for another stand out droid…who’s also a bit murdery.

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno (November 15, 2016)

Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  

The Light Side: I’m pretty sure this novel made Rogue One a better experience for me. The story of Krennic’s rise to power, and his manipulative relationship with the Erso’s was incredibly revealing. It made the first moments of Rogue One more powerful. Krennic’s relationship with Tarkin is also important as they battle for power influence. Orson moves with a grace and political savvy that makes him a truly worth Star Wars villain. The novel also digs into Erso’s research into Kyber’s that will lay the foundation for the death star.  It was a solid and informative read.

The Dark Side: While it made for a great prequel book, Catalyst is lacking as a standalone. The action isn’t as present as it is in most Star Wars stories. Interesting, but not always fun.

Read it if: 

  • You loved Rogue One and want more background on the characters – it really adds to the experience
  • You feel like there has to be more to Orson Krennic than a cool white cape
  • You’re interested in the engineering of the Death Star because you’re an even bigger Star Wars nerd than I am

Bloodline by Claudia Gray (May 3, 2016)

From the author of Star Wars: Lost Stars comes a thrilling novel set in the years before the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Light Side: Bloodline gives a lot of info on what went wrong after Return of the Jedi. It really digs into the politics of the Galaxy that gave rise to The First Order. The book also dives into the state of Han and Leia’s relationship and plants the seeds for what we see in The Force Awakens.

The Dark Side:  It really digs into the politics of the Galaxy that gave rise to The First Order.  It can be really dry – like trade blockade dry.

Read it if:

  • You love Leia, and are aching to see more of Leia the politician. Ok – that’s a bit unfair – there’s some action and espionage to be had as well.
  • The idea of Han and Leia in a long distance relationship makes you want to change your Tinder or Bumble area code
  • You want to know how the hell the galaxy wasn’t saved after Return of the Jedi’s epic Ewok party

 Star Wars Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston (October 11, 2016)

The Light Side: A solid explanation of where Ahsoka has been since she left the Jedi Order, and expansion of the Kyber myth including how a Jedi finds their kyber.

The Dark Side:  It’s a Young Adult novel and often reads very Young Adult.

Read it if:

  • You miss Ahsoka, and aren’t getting your fill on Rebels.
  • You need more teen angst in your Star Wars adventures
  • You think Kyber Crystals are the new Midichlorians (then read Catalyst as well)

Coming Soon:

Aftermath: Empire’s End  February 21, 2017

Thrawn April 11, 2017