Thursday, August 20, 2020

Review: Poe Dameron: Free Fall

Poe Dameron: Free Fall Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a free advance copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for this review.

If you’re a Star Wars fan it’s a real best-of-times/worst-of-times situation these days. We’ve gotten some great new stuff, but also a couple of real duds. Plus, much like how the worst thing about capitalism are the capitalists, the worst thing about Star Wars fandom turned out to be Star Wars fans.

So I wasn’t exactly dying to pick up a new young adult tie-in book, but I’d recently read Alex Segura’s first crime novel, and I thought Poe Dameron was an interesting but underused character in the latest movies so decided to give it a shot. And it turned out to be a very fun Star Wars story.

This starts out with teenage Poe living on Yavin 4 with his father. Both his parents fought for the rebels against the Empire, and his mother was a great pilot who taught him to fly before she was killed while on a mission for the New Republic. Now Poe’s father just wants to live a quiet life as a farmer, and he’s kept Poe from leaving for the adventure he craves. Hmmm… a young man dreaming of space adventure who is trapped on the family farm…. I wonder why that sounds familiar..?

Anyhow, after Poe pulls a knucklehead stunt that lands him in hot water with the authorities and leads to a blowout argument with his father, he impulsively takes a piloting job for several shady characters looking to get off Yavin 4 quickly. It turns out that these people are Spice Runners of Kijimi, one of the most dangerous criminal gangs in the galaxy, and a zealous New Republic officer has a personal vendetta against them so she’s hot on their trail. Poe wanted excitement, but he’s uneasy with his new role as a criminal. However, his growing relationship with the mysterious young lady Zorii makes him hesitant to leave.

Segura takes an interesting approach to this one because it plays out in a series of stories that often begin with Poe in the middle of his latest job gone wrong with the Spice Runners that then fills us in on how it came about. The time jumping helps build a complete narrative arc that leaves Poe with some gaps that could be filled in later (Something the Star Wars franchise loves doing.) while also giving us the depth and backstory that the movies never did. One of the few things I liked about Rise of Skywalker was the brief hint of Poe’s past, and this fleshes that out.

Since it’s a short YA novel we’re not getting the kind of deep dive into Star Wars lore that some nerds demand, but overall I found it to be a fast and enjoyable adventure. It’s obvious that Segura is a fan and knows the universe well, and he brings a young Poe to life with energy and enthusiasm.

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