Sunday, August 14, 2011

Review - Ascension, by Christie Golden - with Alluded Spoilers

Review - Ascension, by Christie Golden

Dear Papa,

I'm so glad that you thought of me and sent me this new book by Christie Golden and that I didn't have to do something like walk 1 mile to a bookstore and shell out my own money for it. It was so thoughtful of you - and I can't express how much I enjoyed this book.

Everything in this book was so new! It's not as though this is just a rehash of old plot devices, or recycles old villains - these are things I've never, ever come across in Star Wars. I mean, who would have ever thought of a scene with Ben in a dark cave not seeing another Jedi getting killed - oh, that will have interesting ramifications. Or the politics... who would have thought that the villains would want to try to control the media... or try to take over the government. So creative!

I also liked how brief the combat scenes were, especially the ones that killed off major characters. I mean, like, who cares about art and grace in describing a scene, taking us there. Simple narrative can just tell us what happened - that's so much nicer and quicker. Why spend more than a few paragraphs on highly emotional duals... and certainly less time on a Parent-child dual than on the much more serious event of a boy reading a girl's diary (oh, but even there, she didn't show too much diary... just told us that they read, that they wrote).

I just can't believe how good this book was. I mean, nothing here was hamfisted -- there was a little too much emotional introspection, that was by far the worst part.

Oh, yeah, before I forget, Papa ... Daala is so cool. Who wouldn't want to follow her devotedly... I mean, what sexist, woman hating Moff wouldn't cower before her simply because she has a rag-tag fleet... we all know how much Imperials respect rag-tag fleets. And then how she just stands on her own with brilliant tactics, not relying on anyone else to save her - it was like reading a Spice Girls song about Girl Power.

Well, Papa, I could write more - there are so many wonderful details where she did everything perfectly... I mean, nothing was wrong with this book (except for the slightly emotional focus... ew...).

All of my love -- strangle some kittens for me,

Your loving daughter - Vessy

So. This book.


The Bad - Misplaced Emotional Tone In all seriousness, there are times I do like how Golden writes - I like the way she does show some emotional interplay... but she only gets to the emotion *after* the fact... never showing the emotional play during the dramatic events. What's a good way to put it -- it's sort of like reading a newspaper review of an event and then post-game commentary rather than watching the event and listening to good play-by-play. I enjoy good post-event commentary... but I don't buy a novel to hear about something - I buy a novel to be taken there, to be put there. And that is the main weakness (voice-wise) with this book.

The Ugly - 1. Wasted Deaths Again, I don't mind deaths in Star Wars -- I love Anime, where deaths have a point, where they bring with them weight or introspection. There can be weight from the scene itself (you can have a beautifully written death scene -- as in the previous book), or the lasting impact of the event. And the deaths here just seem... wasted. There's no awesome battles (that you see on camera) that are awesome. Just... oh, look... he's toast. Even the one that should be obviously huge... apparently only is huge for 10 days of book time.

And yeah... thinking back... name characters drop off like Officers on the Executor in this book. And that's almost how they are treated... it's rather sad.

2 - Haven't We Been Here Before? I know there are no truly new plot twists and turns - but, yeah. Haven't we been here before? Seriously - wasn't this the main plot of... oh, the politics of the prequels and the establishment of the Legacy of the Force series?

3 - The More Jedi Around Him, the Dumber Luke Gets I think this may be part of the current idea in Star Wars Calculus that I hadn't gotten the memo about. While Luke was off on his own - he was brilliant, he was wise, he was perceptive. In this book, he's... not. And it seems that the more Jedi are around, the worse his decisions are (almost as though you have to have Luke botch to give the Jedi something to do... instead of Luke putting his forces where they *need* to be).

I mean, seriously -- Hmmm, do you keep the gal you are worried about falling to the dark side, whom you have said that you will train, right next to you in the dangerous situation... or do you SEND HER TO THE TUNNELS WHERE THEY TESTED SITH APPRENTICES? Hmmm... I don't know, it feels dark ahead -- you go off in those tunnels of testing there.

Really? Really?

Character Stupidity to drive to a repetitive plot point is... tiring.

Oh, did you note that there was no The EU? Well, that's because I'm a bit cranky. I mean, the book flowed well, it was nice technically. But put it this way. If the Olympic figure skater who got 8th place at the 2010 Olympics showed up in 2014 and did the exact same routine, but lacking passion and enthusiasm, would you really spend much time talking about how nice that nice double jump was?

The Grade - D+ I wanted to like this book, I really did. Seriously - I wanted to. But it just didn't give me enough -- and what it did was just too brief, or something I'd seen before.


  1. I hear there's also a scene between Ben and Vestara that reads like classic domestic abuse.

  2. ... I don't think that is quite a fair assessment, because when we think of domestic abuse we don't think of two teens from different, waring factions. I think if you try to link it to domestic abuse, that's importing more into the text than probably should be imported.