Rebel Force #2: Hostage

RF2 Hostage

Author(s): Alex Wheeler
Publisher: Scholastic
Release date: December 2, 2008
Pages: 188
Era: Rebellion

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summary

Hostage picks up from where we left off in the previous Rebel Force novel. Leia and Company are on their way to the sister planet of Alderaan, Delaya.

The novel opens with a scene of our favorite wizened Jedi Master, Yoda. He’s puttering around his swampy domicile, cooking dinner, when Obi-Wan Kenobi appears, by way of the Sparkly Blue. They have a nice little chitchat about Luke and his training, or lack thereof. We end the conversation with both parties championing patience.

Still unbeknownst to the Rebels that they’re harboring an assassin/spy combo, they make their way through the Shards of Alderaan towards the sister planet. (Do you see what I did there?) Once everyone disembarks from the Millennium Falcon, Leia has a brief meeting with General Carlist Rieekan. Though an enemy of the Empire, she is on Delaya as the acting representative of Alderaan for a memorial service. Unofficially, of course, Leia is attempting to recruit Alderaanian survivors for the Rebel cause. There is a surprise (or perhaps not so surprising) cameo from a character thought to have perished in the destruction of Alderaan, Ferus Olin. The readers learn through flashbacks as well as Leia’s inner monologue that she only knows Ferus as repugnant, hanger-on, toadie-like Fess.

In the meantime the Delayan government has set up false refugee camps for survivors, while hiding the majority of the refugees in squalor on the outskirts of town. After a kidnapping attempt gone wrong, the gang discovers something is rotten in the state of Delaya. The Princess is shocked to find her people barely surviving and vows to make things better. Things aren’t what they seem in the actual refugee camps either. There is a faction that believes Princess Leia, by way of Bail Organa, is responsible for the destruction of their planet. To top it all off someone has made a deal with the Empire. How will our friends escape this time? Read the book for the exciting conclusion.

review

I began my descent into the crazy world of Star Wars ™ fandom with the premiere of The Phantom Menace in the early summer of 1999 (Happy 10th Anniversary!). Soon after the movie I came across the young adult Jedi Apprentice series and never looked back. That said, I have a soft spot for SW related young adult fiction. Scholastic has unleashed a new series for young readers headed by relative newcomer, Alex Wheeler. The Rebel Force tales in the GFFA are set during the aftermath of the destruction of the first Death Star. Only four novels have been announced thus far, but it will be a ten book series overall. The first two were released in early December together.

Though this is a relatively crowded time in terms of Expanded Universe material, Alex Wheeler manages to avoid any major pitfalls. What makes the concept of the Rebel Force series compelling is the idea of our heroes not knowing that they will persevere against the Empire. As of yet, nothing is set in stone for the Alliance. Though they are riding high from their victory at the Battle of Yavin, it is time to take stock of the situation: with Alderaan destroyed the majority of the Rebellion’s finances are gone, Han Solo doesn’t want to stick around for their “revolution”, Luke has no idea how to use the Force, and the Princess must deal with the loss of her home planet. The readers are given a glimpse into our favorite characters’ psyches during this critical character building time. This is an extraordinary group of strangers thrown together in dire times. It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the novels.

I greatly enjoyed the realistic aspect of Target and Hostage. In the first book we have the Rebel Alliance facing financial woes. How refreshing is that? It’s a good thing that the GFFA isn’t in a recession. Once the fiscal crisis is over, we are plunged into a world of refugee camps. What happens when someone’s way of life is utterly destroyed? Where does one turn during times of desperation? Wheeler handles weighty topics such as these very well despite the younger target audience.

The theme that emerged as I read both books was one of isolation and abandonment. In the most recent Star Wars Insider, Wheeler states, “[Luke is] alone in the galaxy—the last Jedi (as far as he knows) and trying to understand what that means.” Each character experiences the emotion in their own way. As the books progress, you see Luke, Leia, and Han drawing strength from each other, though they don’t necessarily realize it. Wheeler subtly lays the groundwork for the realization that it’s through the aloneness that their bond develops.

Did I mention earlier that Alex Wheeler is a newcomer to writing in the Star Wars universe? I did? Well, I will don a pair of honey buns and go rail against the Empire in my local McDonalds if that’s true. That Wheeler avails herself to one of Jude Watson’s original characters in addition to noting that the writing style is remarkably similar to Watson is evidence of both authors being one and the same. Situations are created in the same vein as the Jedi Apprentice, Jedi Quest, and the other series Watson has helmed. This isn’t a bad thing. I like Jude Watson, but come on! Don’t tell me a Hutt is a Kowakian Monkey Lizard.

That said, I highly recommend this fledgling series to any fans that want to see what it was like in the early days of the Alliance. It is refreshing to see our beloved Big Three vulnerable and unsure of themselves and of those surrounding them. Watson, I mean Wheeler, does not simplify situations for her target audience, creating an enjoyable set of stories for fans of any age. I look forward to several more tales in this fashion.

Summary & Review by MandyB

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