Book Review: From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back

Publisher: Cornerstone Digital
Format: MOBI
Release Date: November 12th, 2020

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Thank you to Cornerstone for providing me with this ebook via NetGalley. Views remain my own, of course!

Some of the stories in this anthology are absolutely excellent. Some…really fall flat. It’s a shame. The first few were good enough I immediately got a copy of the first book for my boyfriend, keen to read it myself after he’d read it. I have no doubt it will still be an enjoyable book, but as this one is a three star for me, I might hold off on that one for a little while.

There are definitely pacing issues overall with this book. Certain sections drag on way too long, then suddenly we’re zipping from one spot to the next, giving everything too much of a disjointed feel. And if this is canon, well, get ready to feel sorry for ‘characters’ you never thought you’d feel sorry for.

It’s weird, but it feels like there’s too many moments which almost ‘should have’ been in the film. As in, they have too much of an impact on the overall story, reminding you how far removed from the film you actually are, rather than these stories blending in. The strongest stories as those which feel like they’re just off-screen, or that get us into the head of characters in the films.

This anthology feels like it would have so much stronger for having a number of stories cut out. We spend way too long on Hoth, we have a few Imperial Officer POV stories which all read similar, and the ending on Cloud City, like Hoth, stretches on for too long. I won’t go through all the stories, otherwise this will be way too long, but I do want to touch on a few good and bad.

“Eyes of the Empire” opens the anthology, and it really hooked me in instantly. We get a glimpse into the mind of the probe droid operator who found the rebel base on Hoth, and her reasoning behind her work, the way she distances herself from the consequences. It’s a great start, and it’s a shame too many of the stories that followed didn’t match up.

“Hunger” was okay, but felt a bit forced. Did the Wampa who fights Luke really need a backstory and family? After reading this, I’d suggest no. “A Good Kiss” is sweet and satisfying, as a rebel cook has his day interrupted by the evacuation. The thing I liked about this was how we got glimpses of the rebel heroes, but we’re also reminded how many others would have been on Hoth, and it really reinforces the idea of a wider world outside Luke, Han and Leia.

“She Will Keep Them Warm” is similar to Hunger, in that it’s a story told from a creature’s POV, this being Han’s tauntaun. This was a good one, written well and leaving the reader feeling like they’ve just been punched in the gut. “A Naturalist on Hoth” felt weak, and by this point I was so eager to leave the snow and ice behind, this just feels forced. “Amara Kel’s Rules for Tie Pilot Survival (Probably)” is the next one I think was really solid, drawing you into the lives of tie fighters looking for rebels. Yes, it makes you feel for the ‘bad guys’, but it also shows how little choice many people have under The Empire.

“The First Lesson” felt unnecessary, squeezing us into the head of a character (Yoda, here) we’re already familiar with. Similar with “Disturbance”. “This Is No Cave”, on the other hand, is really gripping, a solid, interesting story, taking a small element of the film and giving it more depth. From there, the stories show us various scenes, building up to Cloud City. Some of these were fun and interesting, but there were too many in Dagobah and Cloud City, making both locations – like Hoth – feel like they overstayed their welcome. Especially in Cloud City, the stories become repetitive, and it shows too much that many of the stories weren’t actually pitched or considered with what they would be appearing alongside.

The last story, “The Whills Strike Back”, is a little funny and first, but ultimately felt forced and fell flat for me. A disappointing end to an anthology that could have been so much better.

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