08 February 2016

Books: Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry (2015)

Star Wars: Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry is the last volume that made up the first part of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And like the previous two books in this series, the story is framed as flashback. We open prior to the events of the new movie, with General Leia Organa wrestling with her duties to the Resistance and how she must balance those responsibilities with her own personal wishes. Which reminds her of a story from St Olaf…wait, that’s not right.

Well a little bit. This loose trilogy of books has all been about the same thing, how Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are thrown into leadership roles against their better wishes (except for the princess of course, she’s been fighting the Empire in one way or another since she was a child) and how their desire to end the Imperial rule allows other people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. And it’s apparent, after fighting for thirty plus years, no one thought of recording Leia’s thoughts about what it all means. But now on the eve of her sending Dameron Poe to Jakku, she agrees to begin setting the record straight so to speak, and she unwinds a tale set just before the events of Return of the Jedi.

The mission of this story revolves around Leia taking a small group on a recruiting mission along some outer rim systems that is actually meant to draw imperial attention away from the actual fleet gathering at Sullust to attack the incomplete second Death Star. The group jumps around, setting an electronic bread crumb trail for the Empire to follow, all while Leia wrestles with truth that she is setting up outlier rebels to prevent the Imperial forces from discovering the rebel fleets true location.

The plot is your basic mismatched group heroes with certain abilities that must work together to achieve a goal (it’s Gun on Ice Planet Zero for the original Battlestar Galactica). And like Smuggler’s Run, the interaction between the characters makes this YA title work. We get some good speeches about what the rebels are really fighting for and why some would give up their own lives to achieve the goals of Resistance. 

One the things that really stopped me from reading the original Expanded Universe books after a few years in the 1990s was, as it happens here, that threats the Imperials make on heroes always rang hollow with me. You always knew that if a stormtrooper, or some other Imperial villain pointed a blaster at the head of Leia, Han, Luke, Chewie, or threatened the destruction of C3PO or R2D2 the reader knew they would not die, would not be destroyed. Leia getting captured was an easy trope to do in those books, and happens here again. It’s these things that made me sort of start not wanting to read them (and this includes the Star Trek books as well). I know that the hero always wins, but that’s TV and movies for you. Sometimes, in these series books, I wish a writer would be able to break out of the formula. But even as I write, I know it’s the formula that readers apparently want and are dictated by the publisher. 

There is a lot of good things about these books –mostly the loss of subplots- so even Leia getting captured is not that annoying. I enjoyed them. Now the question is do I go and start reading the handful of other titles in this new Expanded Universe that Disney has created?

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