Star Wars: Battlefront II: Inferno Squad
So read it, what did I make of it? The biggest problem, one which it never manages to overcome, is the book, as a whole, doesn’t work.
Generally, if you do a story from either an anti-hero, so Punisher, or villain’s viewpoint, you need something to set them against that is more monstrous than they are. The problem here is this book gives us a much more extreme version of the Imperial viewpoint. Compared to the likes of Fel or Ciena or Jahan Cross, Iden is a far, far more fervant believer in the Empire, up to and including being an enthusiastic supporter of the Death Star, defending it at the Battle of Yavin. This hasn’t been done before, while it’s an interesting experiment, one that I think fails, the bigger reason for not doing it is it places Iden so far along the axis that anyone or anything she is set in opposition will be less of a monster. In terms of generating a conflicted attitude in the reader, it’s quite successful, but does it in turn make for a good read? No, not for me. Oh the book certainly tries to humanise Iden from the initial portrait but it never, ever feels genuine. That the Dreamers are a bunch of redshirts, despite the best attempts of the story to flesh them out and make their various deaths matter, doesn’t help either. Oh and it really dragged in the middle.
So this was a book I had to pretty much force myself to read. Fortunately it was only just over 300 pages, had it been 400 it would have probably been too much. Though, the plot didn’t have the fuel for 400 pages either.
The one area where the book is a total success is the aesthetic presentation - the cover, the internal pages - it all works very well to enhance it quite a bit.
The problem remains, however, that it’s a book about four psychopathic bastards with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever - clearly that was also the aim, but it’s one that can’t work for me.
The other weird aspect was the discordance that ran through the book, Iden’s all for war and battle but only so long as she wins. When she loses? Like at Yavin? That’s just cheating terrorism. Similarly the whole outrage over being strip searched stood out as a strange thing to be outraged over given everything else Iden’s enthused for. As for the operation involving mass kiddie killing, it felt a quite manipulative move but guess what, Iden was fine with it. As an exercise in how far you can push the reader before they walk away in disgust, it just about works but only in that respect.
It’s going to be interesting to see what people make of the BF2 campaign story, as the promise of the First Order is to simply be a more brutal Empire, which will fit this lot just fine.
I have to admit that, if this or when this goes out of print and the hardback goes up in value, then it’ll probably get sold.