Star Wars: Ahsoka by EK Johnston – A Book Review

Perhaps the greatest Star Wars character to never actually appear in one of the films, Ahsoka Tano broke out during the animated Clone Wars series.  If you’re unfamiliar with her, she once served as Anakin Skywalker’s Padawan.  She and Anakin had an incredible bond, and when she left the Jedi Order, it broke Anakin’s heart.  In fact, her departure coupled with the perceived betrayal of the Jedi absolutely led to his downfall.  One must wonder if he could have resisted the Dark Side had Ahsoka been with him.

Nonetheless, due to her break with the Jedi, she escaped Order 66.  Ahsoka picks up later after Palpatine took control.  Now permanently on the run, Ahsoka must use an alias wherever she goes and downplay her connection to the Force.  She’s a hero at heart, though, and like her Master, she can’t help but get involved when she must.

The first half of the book is comparable to the other Star Wars books in that she lands on a remote planet, she meets characters of no real significance, and a small–ultimately inconsequential–operation begins against the Empire.  I felt real disappointment at this premise because everything felt rather … unimportant.  The beginning of this book seemed entirely forgettable.

But then the second half of the book happened … and I couldn’t put it down.

I won’t spoil it for you, but Ahsoka leads directly into both the cartoon Rebels and Star Wars:  A New Hope … maybe even Rogue One.  Want to know why the Sith’s lightsabers are red?  Want to know how Ahsoka ended up with white lightsabers?  Want to know how Ahsoka became Fulcrum?  Want to witness the beginning of the Inquisitors?  Ever wondered about Bail Organa’s role with the Rebels?  The second half of the book answers all of those questions and sets Ahsoka up for big, big things.

Johnston understands Ahsoka’s character well, especially in terms of where she was in Clone Wars and where she’s going in Rebels.  I’m not sure how I’d feel about it without  having watched both cartoons, but as it stands, Ahsoka ended up being incredibly satisfying.

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Tony and Susan by Austin Wright – A Book Review

A checked this book out because I read in Entertainment Weekly about a film adaptation coming soon called Nocturnal Animals.  Tony and Susan originally published in 1993.  The author died ten years later.

The EW article made the premise sound fascinating, so I couldn’t wait to read the book.  The plot is that Susan Morrow unexpectedly receives a manuscript from her ex-husband, Edward Sheffield.  They’ve been divorced nearly two decades and Susan is quite established in her new life with her new husband and new family.  The manuscript unnerves her because Edward’s writing is noted right away as a catalyst for their divorce all those years ago.

Tony and Susan quickly becomes a book within a book, and that inner book is entitled Nocturnal Animals. Susan’s ex-husband, Edward, has written a story in which his main character, Tony, gets involved with the wrong group of guys during a highway grudge match.  Unfortunately, his wife and college-aged daughter are in the car with him, and his actions have consequences for them as well.

As Susan reads about Tony’s horrific event, she is drawn in and can’t help but wonder why Edward has sent this manuscript to her after so many years of silence.  Is she meant to read something into it?  Should she take it at face value, or try to decipher some sort of message?

I’m torn about this book.  It starts off incredibly strong.  Tony’s plight with a gang of toughs made my heart race and I literally lost track of time as I read that part of the book – it flew by!

But when that initial thrill ended, Tony’s story lost a certain amount of urgency for me.  Furthermore, the book shifts in tone and begins to become very much about Susan as she reads Nocturnal Animals.  We learn more and more about she and Edward’s past, their marriage, and certain things that led to that marriage’s demise.

The first forty pages were absolutely riveting as Tony gambled with his family’s life while trying to stick it to a bunch of punks.  But when that primary conflict reached its immediate conclusion, I felt a little cheated.  I expected the vast majority of the book to be about Tony struggling to save his wife and child, but that wasn’t the case.  It instead turned very much into a character study of Tony, as well as Susan.  Hence, Tony and Susan, I suppose.

I still plan to see the movie, but more on the strength of the actors involved than the story itself.  Tony and Susan isn’t a bad read, but it certainly does not maintain its opening appeal.

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Superman: The Unauthorized Biography by Glen Weldon – A Book Review

Glen Weldon is my kind of person – a total nerd who writes magnificently.  His blend of intricate knowledge and hilarious humor made The Caped Crusade a fun read, one which prompted me to check out Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.

Though I’m not a die-hard fan of Superman, I’ve always been interested in his character, and, more specifically, his psychology.  There is obviously something that sets Superman apart from the rest of super heroes and even other pop-culture icons.  When you consider that Superman has appeared on a monthly basis since 1938, well, that’s staying power.

Weldon provides insight into both the character’s multifaceted history as well as what maintains his longevity.  From the comic books to the radio shows to the serials to the TV programs o the movies, Weldon offers a crash course in the Man of Steel, one that will both educate and entertain.

The book is divided into short segments moving along chronologically that will allow a reader to enjoy the book for either short or long periods of time.   Weldon has a wicked sense of humor, so be prepared to appreciate the elegance of the character, but also be ready to chuckle at some of his more ridiculous aspects.

Superman: The Unauthorized Biography will please students of the medium, crazed fans, and casual readers alike.  It moves at a brisk pace, offers just the right amount of information, and even provides a few fresh perspectives concerning the Last Son of Krypton.

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