Book Review: Alphabet Squadron
With Victory's Price release this week, I ordered the Alphabet Squadron books and finally got around to reading them. I've just read the first in the trilogy, but it was amazing!
Spoiler-Free Review: Alphabet Squadron is a compelling story about a cast of new characters, each with their own complexities, origins and quirks to explore. We see this cast of characters from a variety of different backgrounds in the Star Wars universe coming to work together on missions, and overcoming conflict. We also get to learn more about the Empire's fate after Endor and before the Battle of Jakku, as well as how the New Republic handles its victory.
Spoilers ahead for Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed!
There's a lot that happens in this book, and I couldn't even begin to give a proper, thorough plot summary, so instead I'll just highlight my favorite elements of this story and the characters.
First, my favorite of the characters introduced to us in this book is Yrica Quell, the X-Wing pilot of the Alphabet Squadron. Yrica is a former member of the ruthless TIE Squadron- the 204th- that Alphabet Squadron hunts in the book. Yrica is appointed to command Alphabet Squadron- made up of a group that has a really hard time getting along. Yrica struggles a lot through the book, and I found myself being so empathetic to her. She struggles with grief as she now has to turn her guns on the people she once flew with, she struggles with learning what her place in this new form of the galaxy is, she struggles with her desire to prove herself to the New Republic, she struggles to get used to the way that New Republic runs things compared to the Empire, and she struggles to get along with her new squadron. Reading about Yrica's process as she goes through all of these things (with "help" from the Imperial torture droid turned therapist, IT-O) was as interesting as it was emotional. Freed does a really good job of exploring every character, and especially with so with Yrica.
I won't bore you with descriptions just as long for every other character. There's Chass Na Chadic, a Theelin with a lot of anger issues who plays music in her B-Wing through every battle. There's Kairos, a large mysterious alien woman who is capable of killing Imperials with her bare hands and flies the U-Wing. There's Wyl Lark, a young A-Wing pilot who can't wait to go Home, and Nath Tensent, another ex-Imperial Y-Wing pilot with a suspicious past when it comes to criminal activity.
One thing with Alphabet Squadron is how much they just don't get along. There's lots of crews in Star Wars that don't get along at first, of course, but Alphabet Squadron are really against working together. None of them know each other, and the ones that do know each other don't like each other. It's not until Hera sends them on a mission to pick up a cache under an old Jedi temple that they start to open up to one another.
Now I get to talk about my favorite part of the book. Which, predictably, was Hera. Hera isn't in the book very much, as this isn't her story, but I was always excited when she did turn up. I thought she was written very well- I could totally Vanessa Marhsall's voice in her lines- and she played the perfect role as General Syndulla, guiding and leading but not controlling. Hera in this book is the Hera we know from Rebels, and I just always love seeing her in everything.
This book has a lot of sweet moments amongst the characters, but one of my favorites is when Yrica has an "Alphabet Squadron" logo featuring their array of ships painted onto each of her squadmate's ships as a surprise for them, to try and prove to them that she cares for and values them. But Yrica goes above and beyond that- she gets the symbol tattooed on her arm. It was a pretty sweet moment (don't worry Dad, I probably won't get that tattoo) and it really showed Yrica's commitment to Alphabet Squadron.
Of course, there's a lot more to the book, more than I could begin to cover in a single article (or at least, in a single article anyone would actually read), but those were just the elements of it that I loved the most, and I hope you'll read it for yourself to get all the details!