RESISTANCE REBORN by Rebecca Roanhorse

resistance-reborn-by-rebecca-roanhorseWell I certainly didn’t expect my first read of 2020 to be a Star Wars book. To be perfectly honest, after the underwhelming disappointment of The Rise of Skywalker and the emotional exertion of The Mandalorian finale, I was beginning to feel a little burned out on Star Wars. That feeling was still present when I started reading the first few chapters of this novel, and I began to get the notion that maybe this story, like the final Skywalker film, just wasn’t for me.⠀

But I kept up with the book, and was quickly proven wrong, as once the story well and truly kicks in it hits you like a jump to hyperspace.⠀

Resistance Reborn takes places just after The Last Jedi, and before The Rise of Skywalker, and tells the story of how the Resistance begins to rebuild their greatly diminished, and overwhelmed fleet. In the climax of The Last Jedi, the Resistance’s call for help goes unanswered, despite them knowing they have allies out there. The main narrative follows their investigations into what happened to these, and their efforts to seek out and recruit further sympathizers.⠀

Much has been said about this book being an Avengers-scale crossover, bringing in characters from different stories, across different media from the expanded universe — from the films, to comics, to even the video games — all coming together for a final stand. In the hands of any other writer this would have been an unwieldy task, but Roanhorse proves skillful enough to handle it with poise and panache. In Resistance Reborn, she has written a heist story, a thriller, and a political drama that never fails to be fun, and never, ever loses sight of the most important aspect of the whole Star Wars galaxy: its characters.⠀

Resistance Reborn boasts a huge cast of characters, but it is also mostly Poe’s tale, and I love Roanhorse’s characterization of him here. Outside of The Force Awakens and his comic book series, Poe is a character that Star Wars doesn’t really know what do with. In The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker, he’s reduced to an arrogant pilot who is constantly screwing things up in a spectacular fashion, redeems himself, but then fails to learn his lesson as he repeats the same mistakes further down the line. In TFA we were introduced to a character that was hotheaded yes, but also ceaselessly charming, loyal, and optimistic. This portrayal carried on in the books and the comics, but got cast aside as the final two films decided to have him be little more than a Han Solo stand-in. Which is boring and disappointing. Roanhorse also further develops his relationship with Finn, including a handful of scenes that are not only touching and thematically relevant, but also add fuel to the FinnPoe fire. (Literally the only ship I’ve wanted to see set sail. Alas.) ⠀

He just felt at a disadvantage around Rey. He still didn’t know her well and she clearly meant a lot to Finn, and Finn meant a lot to him, so Rey mattered.

(I mean.)

Unfortunately, Roanhorse doesn’t get to do a lot with Rey here, however. Her portrayal is fine and serviceable, but it’s also very minor. I assume this was because her story was being reserved for TRoS.⠀

The other characters are great and a lot of fun, with a decent amount of familiar faces returning (including a character that literally made me go “oh daaamn,” out loud). I want to make special mention of Shriv Suurgav, though, a character pulled in from the Battlefront II video game. He was new to me, as I’ve never played the game, but he quickly became a favorite. He serves mostly as comic relief here, but brought some pathos as well. I really loved his inclusion here.

Rebecca Roanhorse has, with a single book, become one of my favorite Star Wars author. For my credits I think she and Claudia Gray could easily carry this entire expanded universe by themselves, and what rich stories we would get.