I noticed that my reading in the last couple of weeks had a theme: it’s essentially published fan fiction — stories based on other works. Otherwise, it was two very different books.
The first was A Little in Love by Susan E. Fletcher. This book is basically Les Miserables from Eponine’s point of view. It seems to stick pretty closely to canon, just fleshing out the offstage parts about Eponine’s life. As she lies dying by the barricade, her life flashes before her eyes, and she remembers her childhood when her family took in Cosette, the ups and downs of her family’s fortunes, their move to Paris, meeting Marius, learning that he loved someone else, and then choosing to be at his side anyway during the revolution. It’s an interesting perspective on the familiar story that will probably appeal to all the drama nerd girls to whom “On My Own” is a personal anthem, but I think I was hoping for something more.
Then I continued in Star Wars mode with a tie-in novel I found at the library, The Cestus Deception by Steven Barnes. It’s set during the Clone Wars and centers on a mission led by Obi-Wan Kenobi to uncover how someone is managing to make robots with Jedi-like abilities and try to stop that without destroying a world’s economy and driving that world even further into the arms of the Separatists. Barnes is a noted science fiction author, so this reads more like a science fiction novel than like a Star Wars book. There’s a lot of worldbuilding to explain the culture of this world and its dominant race. Although Obi-Wan is a central character, the protagonist is really one of the clone troopers, and that’s where this book gets really interesting. Barnes creates a culture around the clones, figuring out what kind of social structure and philosophy they might have. When you think about it, it’s kind of a bunch of identical twin brothers fighting together, and that’s the way they come to see themselves, even though they’re also aware that they’re considered to be more or less cannon fodder. There’s some really good stuff in there that I wish had made it into the prequels. The Clone Wars were mostly a letdown in the films (I haven’t watched the cartoon series), and this explores the ethical issues of a clone army, as well as getting into the psychology of the clones themselves. Things get really complicated for our central clone when he meets a woman who was once in love with Jango Fett and who can’t help but have feelings for his clone.
I’d say if you’re reading to get more insight into that era of the Star Wars universe and Obi-Wan, you might be disappointed, but if you like a good space opera with interesting characters, alien races, and cultures, this would be a fun book even if you’re not a Star Wars fan. I’ve found myself actually a bit haunted by the clones’ situation.