Reading: Star Wars – The Clone Wars Novelization

I have a confession to make. I didn’t rush out to the theater to see Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I hear you gasp. I hear you ask what has happened to my fandom. And no, I will not turn in my Jedi Knights membership card. Mind tricks are far too useful.

The characters are horrendously ugly to me. I always hated Thunderbirds. Just not my form of geekdom. Nothing against puppets. I love everything the Henson company has ever done. But the whole action/adventure marionette thing doesn’t work for me.

I’ll see it when it the TV show hits.

In the meantime, despite the fact that I have sworn off most Star Wars novels, I decided to pick up the novelization so I could get an idea of what the series was like. Add the fact that it’s written by Karen Traviss, and it didn’t seem so bad. She’s a great writer. I especially enjoyed her Republic Commando books. Her New Jedi Order (NJO) books are involving, but none of the NJO books really fit in my fan canon of Star Wars, so I can’t really bother to read them anymore.

The Clone Wars is really a pretty good story. It’s somewhere halfway between a kids book and an adult book. We get to listen to Anakin’s inner struggles about the war. We get to see a lot of the story from Clone Trooper Captain Rex’s perspective. We even get a little bit of insight into Assaj Ventris, while leaving some mystery. Bake that all in the cauldron of non-stop Star Wars action, and you get a great tasting Star Wars cookie.

I did find the character of Ahsoka, Anakin’s padawan, kind of annoying at first. She’s the whiny little kid who wants to play with the big kids. She’s the gateway character, who gives Anakin someone to talk to. She also provides Anakin a way to grow a bit. And I did grow to like her a bit by the end of the novel. But I still kind of feel like she’s way out of place in the story. I wanted to hear about Anakin and Obi-Wan’s adventures together. I didn’t so much want them always separated and meeting up at the end.

From what I hear, there’s a characterization of a Hutt character as Truman Capote in the movie that’s kind of annoying. Thankfully, you don’t get voice-acting in the book. And I think the characters are drawn a little more shallowly in the TV series. It’s a testament to Traviss as a writer that she can elevate a kid’s cartoon to something that feels like an adult story. I really did enjoy the book, and my suspicion is, I won’t like the toon as much. But maybe it will take some of the edge off the toon to have read the book first.

If you’re a fan of Karen Traviss’ Star Wars work, I recommend this one. If you haven’t read any Traviss, definitely do. If you’re a fan of Mandalorians, Clone Troopers, or Storm Troopers, you’ll really like her books. She gives them a depth and a military real-ness that gets you involved in their stories. And if you haven’t played Republic Commando, I highly recommend it. One of the most fun Star Wars games, ever.