Book Review: Resistance Reborn
My latest bit of Star Wars reading was Rebecca Roanhorse's Resistance Reborn. Due to being extra busy with work, it's been a little while since I was able to read, so Resistance Reborn was a nice bit of beachtime reading to enjoy on my days off. This book was a great read, especially because of how it tied together so many different stories and characters from other Star Wars media that I love. I really wish that I had read it before seeing The Rise of Skywalker, because I truly think it was a great lead-in to that film as well as just being a fantastic Star Wars story on its own.
Spoilers ahead for Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse!
While my focus personally is more on characters because I prefer character-driven stories, I have to say that I really, really enjoyed the plot of this novel and it really lured me in and had me hooked instantly. This book covers the Resistance' journey as they try to regroup and rebuild following the disastrous defeat and narrow escape in The Last Jedi. I loved reading about all of the connections they call in, and it was so interesting to read about the different missions our heroes are sent on, and how they all come together to succeed in the end so they can live to fight another day and eventually take down the First Order.
Resistance Reborn brought back a lot of characters that I loved from other Star Wars media, and I don't just mean our obvious heroes of Leia, Finn, Rey or Poe. This book let us spend a lot of time with characters like Shriv and Zay from Battlefront II and let us see how their story continued after that cliffhanger from the game, as well as following up on Norra Wexley from the Aftermath series, and what her life looked like after she settled down with Wedge, and how her relationship with her son has changed since those books. Getting to see what these characters are up to and the role that they end up playing in the Resistance-First Order conflict. I thought Rebecca Roanhorse wrote all of these characters extremely well, too. I'm sure there's a lot of pressure when you pull so many unique characters from all different forms of media, but each character felt perfectly in-character and like themselves, and when we read from their perspectives I really thought that she captured each of their voices nicely. Many of these cameos were a bit surprising (like Leia's foe-turned-friend from the Bloodline novel turning up), but welcome none the less, and it was satisfying to me to see these characters I recognized from my many, many hours of Star Wars homework all come together.
Norra and Wedge especially were parts I really loved. I thought their relationship was so sweet in the book, and it was nice to see them after having spent so many years together considering that their relationship was still pretty new in the Aftermath series. I loved reading about the little farm and peaceful homestead that they'd set up, and I thought that Roanhorse's writing of their mixed feelings about leaving it and inviting war into their lives once again was so well-done and emotional.
And then, of course, there's also the obvious heroes of the book- our Resistance heroes. I thought that Roanhorse did an excellent job with all of these characters and dealing with the fallout (both the literal and the mental/emotional) they're handing after the events of The Last Jedi. While Rey isn't a starring character of this story, we still get to see a softer side of her as she deals with the revelations she had in that film as well as the loss of Luke and her uncertainty about the future. We see Finn as he fumbles with what his place is in the Resistance and the family he is slowly building within it. We see Rose adjust from being a "lowly" mechanic to leader and hero, but most of all we see Poe grappling with his failures and losses from The Last Jedi and learning to regain trust- both from others and in himself. Roanhorse really delves into this part of his character and puts an interesting spin on how he feels about the events of that movie that really made me reflect on it differently. I thought she did a really great job in writing about this transitory period of the Resistance, and how each character (including Leia Organa, of course) is dealing with the losses and their need to push on in different ways.
Finally, I would be failing you if I didn't talk about the cast of original characters that Roanhorse includes. There are quite a few, including a young hotshot pilot and his awesome bow-wielding scrapper sister, a really badass former Imperial officer turned red dread-rocking warlord lady, a rich couple with Rebellion leanings that really know how to throw a party, and two young First Order cadets who want to succeed but struggle with the reality of the organization that they're a part of. But the most interesting to me, oddly enough, was a First Order officer named Bratt. We get a few chapters from his perspective, and throughout the book I thought it was so fascinating to watch his deterioration. As the book gets on, as he clings more desperately onto what little power he has, he becomes more and more paranoid and violent, lashing out savagely when he feels like his cadets aren't following him perfectly enough. Watching him go from a proud and put-together officer to a mess of a man was interesting and morbid from beginning to end, and was an odd highlight of the book for me.
Before I let you go, I have to highlight a few of my favorite cute little scenes from the book, just because they made me happy and it's nice to get that breathing room in Star Wars that reminds us that the galaxy isn't all just war and Force powers. First- we see Maz Kanata has settled herself onto a beautiful planet that prides itself in having giant spas everywhere. It sounds very lovely, and the idea of little Maz padding around in a towel with giant cucumber slices over her eyes just makes me giggle. Second, I thought the scene where Poe teaches Finn how to tie a tie before they go undercover into a (really, really awesome sounding) gala was super cute as well. Finally, I really liked a scene very early in the book where Rey brings Leia tea. It was a small gesture, but a cute scene that shows that despite all she's been through, Rey is caring and selfless at heart, and that's not something the galaxy can take from her.