#SciFiMonth Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Media Tie-In
Series: Star Wars Canon, Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Publisher: Random House Audio (November 5, 2019)
Length: 11 hrs and 29 mins
Narrator: Marc Thompson
Guys, I was so excited when I found out about Star Wars: Resistance Reborn and that Rebecca Roanhorse would be writing it. Rebecca Roanhorse, as in The Sixth World Rebecca Roanhorse? I love that series! And couldn’t have been more thrilled that she was tapped for this project. But she also has her work cut out for her, given the challenging task of bridging The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Reduced to only a handful of survivors after the harrowing events at the battle of Crait, the Resistance now they must decide their next steps. Leia Organa, unwilling to give up, sends out a call for help to whoever would listen. But it appears most of her support have abandoned her—or have been captured and detained by the First Order. Wracked with guilt for his actions, Poe Dameron is ready to do anything to make amends. At Leia’s request, he takes it upon himself to search for more allies.
And at its heart, that’s what this book is all about: Poe’s road to redemption. He knows he screwed up royally in The Last Jedi, and Resistance Reborn is merciless in making you feel the full brunt of the repercussions to his actions.
So this, in essence, is really Poe’s story. The consequence of his recklessness that effectively led to the end of the Resistance is a shadow that looms over the entire novel. But just as the rebellion needs to be reborn, so does our commander of Black Squadron. No one is harder on Poe than Poe himself, and throughout this journey, filled with moments both heartwarming and heart-wrenching, he realizes that he still has teammates and true friends who will fight by his side, lifting him out of that dark place. And then there are the kind of allies who won’t take such a direct route, choosing instead to empower him and set him on the right path by teaching him how to help himself.
Which brings me to the cast of characters, and I was pleasantly surprised to find we got to follow some major players. In my experience, whenever we get a “bridge book” or a “prequel novel” in the Star Wars expanded canon that promises to fill in the gaps, what we usually get instead is a fun but fluffy throwaway piece starring a bunch of expendable one-use characters because you just know they’ll save all the most important developments for the movies. A prime example of this is the first book of Aftermath (though to be fair, some of the characters in that trilogy ultimately became quite prominent, impacting the Star Wars universe quite significantly, but more on that later).
Such is life when it comes to media tie-ins, after all, but Resistance Reborn on the other hand features all our old favorites: Leia, Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, Chewbacca, and the list goes on. It helped make this feel like a real Star Wars novel, lending weight to its people, events, and places. It also made me feel like what I read mattered on a greater level, and you’d be surprised how few canon novels thus far have passed this test.
Not only that though, Resistance Reborn is like a gift to the superfans of Star Wars who have really embraced the franchise beyond the movies. If you’ve also enjoyed the books, comics, video games, TV shows, etc., there will be quite a few references and appearances by characters you’ll recognize from elsewhere. Snap Wexley, for example, who made his debut on the aforementioned Aftermath and was brought to life on the big screen in The Force Awakens. Shriv Suurgav and Zay Versio, from Battlefront II. Even Ransolm Casterfo, the handsome rogue senator from Claudia Gray’s brilliant Leia Organa novel Bloodline will show up, with some answers as to what he’s been up to all these years. Not only that, we have some highly recognizable names like Wedge Antilles, who has married Snap’s mother Norra and are living together as farmers on Akiva. Maz Kanata, who understands more than most how the Force works in mysterious ways. And of course, there are ties aplenty to the Poe Dameron and Black Squadron comics. It was fascinating to see this book gather all these disparate characters together, forming the basis of a new resistance. There’s a sense of renewed hope, but also this bittersweet acceptance of an end to an era. The coming battle will be fought by this new line-up of rebels, and I’m curious to see who will show up in The Rise of Skywalker.
As for Rebecca Roanhorse’s writing, I think her style translates well to Star Wars, despite the occasional turn of phrase which would jolt me out of the immersion. Her best portrayals were of the female characters (there was one particular scene I loved, involving a heartfelt conversation between Leia and Rey), while a couple of her male characters like Wedge and Finn could have used some fine-tuning, and there were a few telling-not-showing moments where Poe came across just a bit too detached. But overall, I couldn’t be happier with Roanhorse’s work and her dedication to detail. The book was peppered with little Easter Eggs, calling back to everything from Star Wars: Rebels to the original trilogy.
But when it comes to story, admittedly the plot was on the flimsier side, and it worked out too neatly. Yes, we get this whole build-up to a nail-biting finale, but at the end of the day, we are still left with an awkward sense of being back to square one. Granted, we now know the Resistance isn’t as alone as we thought it was; the most important elements of Black Squadron are intact and we we’ve dug up some new allies. Poe, the linchpin of the novel, also gets his absolution. But really, all this could have been inferred from the end of The Last Jedi. I guess the point I’m trying to make is, Resistance Reborn ends in a way that seems purposely designed not to affect the third movie at all, but again, this just goes back to the nature of media tie-ins. Like most, it’s a standalone, supplementary rather than required, and the most important characters are kept from making any huge decisions or weren’t developed much because obviously you save those things for the movie.
That being said, should you read Resistance Reborn? Yes, if you’re a diehard Star Wars fan and are going all in on Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, you absolutely should. Despite its weaknesses (many of which are related to the tie-in genre rather than anything negative to do with the book itself) this was one of the better novels from the new canon. Rebecca Roanhorse did a fantastic job writing a fun new adventure to fill the gap between the two films, even fixing or clarifying a few things from The Last Jedi, while providing lots of geek-out moments for those of us who love everything Star Wars.