This review originally appeared on DialogTrees.wordpress.com
When Lucasfilm debuted The Clone Wars, probably one of the greatest things to come out of the prequel era of Star Wars, immediate questions were raised about Ahsoka Tano, the Togruta padawan assigned to Anakin Skywalker during the Battle of Cristophsis. Who was she? Why assign Anakin a padawan despite not being a Master? How on Coruscant did she get away with calling her Master “Sky Guy”? The most pertinent question was “Where was Ahsoka during the Episode III?” As we now know through the show’s finale, Ahsoka left the Jedi Order after barely proven innocent of a brutal murder. Feeling as if the Order and the Republic turned their back on her, Ahsoka said her goodbyes, thus giving Lucasfilm an out for her absence during the third film and, more importantly, Order 66.
Ahsoka eventually reemerged in Star Wars Rebels, a show that never really got its feet on the ground for me. As a Rebel spy, she was responsible for getting Ezra and the crew of the Ghost into the Rebel Alliance, which ultimately led to the best part of the show: the duel between Ahsoka and Darth Vader. With so much time unnacounted for, Ahsoka’s post-Empire adventures are presented through Johnson’s novel in which the Not Quite A Jedi learns that no matter how far she runs, the Empire is never far behind.
To be completely truthful, Ahsoka isn’t a particularly memorable read. I liked the character well enough by the end of the TV series only because she, like the rest of the show, was cast in a darker, more mature spotlight. A far cry from the show’s initial tone (remember Zero, aka Capote the Hutt?). That said, she wasn’t a big draw for me nor was she the reason I watched the show every week.
The plot of Ahsoka feels rather familiar: Ahsoka travels to the Outer Rim and lives incognito while the Empire consolidates its power in a post Republic society. Ahsoka can’t stay quiet for too long as she finds herself assisting a family with repairing droids and farming equipment. Her life of solitude is interrupted by the Empire and while she has the best of intentions, Ahsoka quickly finds out the ramifications of aiding and abetting civilians against Palpatine’s regime. Her actions draw the attention of Jimmy Smits (aka Bail Organa) who poaches her into joining the fledgling Rebel Alliance under Mon Mothma.
What stuck in my craw the most about the book was the shoehorning of R2-D2. For most of the story, Ahsoka frequently pines for Artoo’s inherent handiness and robo-sass. Through Bail Organa, the two meet and have a cheerful reunion before setting to work against the Empire. First of all, it seems to me that Ahsoka could complete her mission with any R2 unit but R2-D2 has name recognition, so it felt like he was there for the sake of having a famous character run alongside Ahsoka. Second, it seems really strange that Bail would waste the time calling Antilles back from his work just to loan out a droid. I never really felt that Artoo was important to the story and with the book bending over backwards to include him, his cameo failed to make an impact.
While it serves the greater purpose of accounting for Ahsoka’s whereabouts between Episode III and season two of Star Wars Rebels, Ahsoka isn’t quite the memorable adventure I wanted it to be. It doesn’t help that the character’s finest moment exists within the show when she realizes that not only is Anakin Skywalker alive but he is also the evil, youngling killing Darth Vader. The book fails to have any “cool” moments like this–even when an Inquisitor shows up–making it mostly a serviceable Star Wars story.
When not playing games, Allen is a Teen Services Librarian, which means he reads lots of books, right? Well, not as much as he would like. He is a fan of fantasy, science fiction, and graphic novels both in and out of the YA sphere of influence.