Jedi Search, by Kevin J. Anderson

April 21, 2012 at 18:16 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Mediocre Books, Star Wars Saturday!) (, , , )

4/10

The one constant about Kevin J. Anderson’s writing is that he is an imaginative and creative fellow. He has given the Star Wars universe some of its most interesting characters–Daala, Bevel Lemelisk, IG-88, Exar Kun–as well as providing the universe for the first time with a sense of legend and myth. It is very difficult to love the Star Wars extended universe without at least liking Kevin J. Anderson.

“Kyp wore an embarrassed expression for a moment; then he spoke quickly. ‘This is going to sound like a hokey old religion–but it works. An old woman who spent part of her sentence in the spice tunnels told me I had some sort of tremendous potential. She showed me how to use something called ‘the power’ or ‘the strength’ or something.'”

-Jedi Search

Now, it ought to be well recognised that an imaginitive man is no more a good writer than a man who can dream up fascinating storylines, or a descriptive poet. Anderson’s greatest problems do not lie with his storylines, although they tend to be broadly predictable and more than a little derivative. His problems are partly due to the fact that he has already pictured and pieced together an entire world inside his head. His imagination might well be his biggest downside. He has pictured Han Solo, for instance, not only as an exciting character, but as a complete man. When most people think of Solo, they think of his greatest and most exciting moments: shooting Greedo under the table; throwing Leia’s impassioned admission of love back at her while facing imminent execution; charging headfirst towards a Star Destroyer. It seems fairly plain that when Kevin J. Anderson thinks about Han Solo, he also thinks of the fellow having to brush his teeth, or worrying about his retirement, or refuelling the Millennium Falcon and then realising he left his credit card in another pair of trousers.

Anderson crams his book with page upon page of description and exposition. He tells readers what his characters are thinking, rather than show them. There are plenty of opportunities for this sort of thing here, with extended training scenes in which Luke and Leia think furiously about everything they’re doing; Han Solo spends a lot of time in a prison cell, thinking about things, and remembering other things; even C-3PO does his share of wordless pondering. In many ways, this book was a badly-needed recentering of the Star Wars world. A summary of what had been and what would be, and Anderson had the vision to pull it off. But this book is terminally weakened by his distraction, and his apparently earnest desire to set the History of Star Wars in stone.

Besides that, Anderson’s writing is fluent but not pretty. He uses the word “hodgepodge” seriously; there is a chapter in which one of the most frequently-used words is “blob”; he tries his level best to write meaningful dialogue between two-year-olds; he has a limited selection of verbs, all of which find their way into each and every fighting sequence. This is a case of an excellent editor and a peerless visionary writing a book that could have been successful either as a short story, or as an encyclopaedia, but not as a novel.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael Cargill said,

    Ha, nice review!

    I thought the bit about Han Solo was very amusing.

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