The divide over Star Wars: Aftermath is fairly obvious if you visit the book’s product pages on Amazon and Audible. The ratings are almost a mirror image of each other. Take a look at this Star Wars Interactive Chart I made to see the divided fan base. It’s interesting how readers are strongly split along print and audio.
Click to look at data trends, or just blow up the Death Star! (Source: Amazon and Audible)
I left the Star Wars universe a decade ago after the movie prequels concluded, disheartened by the direction the story had taken. On a family trip to Disney in October 2015, I was jolted back into Star Wars mode. Downtown Disney was jammed with gobs of Star Wars merchandise (for The Force awakens, coming that December). The R2-D2 suitcases and stormtrooper helmets were easy to ignore, but I decided to give the book a try. I really wanted to see where the Star Wars story was headed. But I was still tentative, so I picked up a copy of Aftermath from my public library.
What’s amazing about Star Wars: Aftermath (which I’ve dubbed Episode VI.I) is how author Chuck Wendig captures the feel of the original cinema saga we love but with a whole new cast of characters. Some might take issue with this statement – and many other things about the new “official” continuation of the Star Wars story – but put down the blasters and look at the data. Book ratings bear out evidence that there’s a huge love of this story. This is no Phantom Menace – there won’t be a mass exodus of fans. What we have is an interesting and polarizing reaction to this story. I’d expect no less from Star Wars fans.
The first twelve weeks of the book’s release showed a majority of Amazon print or ebook ratings were 1 Star (575), but the second highest rating was 5 star (278). Although the fans are half the number of non-fans, the fans embrace the story fully.
Surprisingly, Kindle readers split their star ratings almost evenly across the board. No single star rating dominated. The real group that took issue with the story were readers of good ol’ fashion print books.
The format obviously mattered where audiobooks are concerned. More than half of “readers” have given the book 4 or 5 stars. The 5 star ratings dominated, and when broken down by performance, story, and overall ratings, fans overwhelming loved the performance of the narration. (Hey, Shakespeare got his street cred for his writing AND the performances of his work…not that I’m comparing this to Shakespeare.)
The three data sources (Amazon, Audible and Goodreads) all give a different picture of fan reactions. For myself, I picked up the audiobook because I was not willing to invest more than my work commute to experiencing this story. I was just that skeptical of Star Wars in general. But I’m glad I gave the Force a shot again. (Yes, I was going to the movie anyway!) I can say that I love this story. I love the rogue, self-interested Imperial and bounty hunter and the bruised, tired rebel heroes. I love their plight and I love their personal struggles of how to live in this galaxy in flux. I think I just might be a Star Wars fan again.
I even love Mr. Bones! Man, if the battle droids can be redeemed, that by itself deserves credit. And since every Star Wars story requires a “boy and his droid,” this is the one we should have gotten instead of that mess on Tatooine at the turn of the century.
Thank you Chuck Wendig.
Subscribe to future posts. I’m planning a followup on how Star Wars: Aftermath trends after the new movie comes out.