December 20, 2023
The "Chronicles of the Dark Star" Trilogy by Kevin Emerson
I first picked up Last Day on Mars simply because I had to pick a book to read for an English class assignment I was dreading. This was long before I developed my love for reading; I’d like to think that these novels contributed to my eventual evolution. Science fiction is one of the most thrilling, imaginative, and testing fiction genres there is, and Kevin Emerson did his absolute best with this trilogy. It is near perfect science fiction, if I do say so myself. The writing is crisp, clear, and easy to understand; there is the undertone of forbidden romance; and the inexhaustible concept of “the race against time.” The final novel lives up to—and perhaps surpasses—the glory of the first two, and the ending is passionate with a touch of bittersweet. If someone were to ask me to recommend a phenomenal science fiction trilogy that is devastatingly underrated, this one would be the first I would name.
The "Escape From Furnace" Series by Alexander Gordon Smith
I very much enjoyed this series all the way through, which is rare. The storyline is intriguing and questionable; the characters are likable, relatable, and well-developed; and the writing is spirited and elegant yet not so poetic that you get perpetually lost in metaphors and have no idea what’s going on. The action is striking, thrilling, and imaginative, the characters on the edge of escape and survival. The one five-book series I can genuinely say had me gripped at the first page.
"The Giver Quartet" by Lois Lowry
Everyone and their dog, at one point or another, had to read The Giver for a school project. When I was assigned to read it, I figured it was just another 1900s classic that would be immensely boring and written using diction I didn’t understand. However, I was wrong. First, The Giver was published in 1993. Second, the novel unfolds as an inventive and imaginative utopian society and later emerges the cruel and honest details lurking beneath the clean and idealistic surface. The story continues from another perspective, on the opposing side of the spectrum, in the second novel, and both storylines finally converge in the final novel, Son. It is a satisfying and thrilling ending of a minutely thorough and compelling series. Further, action lovers will be rightfully satisfied with this read, the ending being unexpectedly riveting.
"The 5th Wave" Trilogy by Rick Yancey
If anyone is looking for a great post-apocalyptic, alien-infested book, The 5th Wave is your next read. The first is absolutely impeccable. Truthfully, if the series ended with the first one, I would be perfectly satisfied. The other two do feel like a bit of an afterthought, and the ending is definitely a plot twist from what a regular reader is accustomed to. One could take that as either exciting or distasteful. Overall, a plenty good series.
Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks
The original 1999 film, The Phantom Menace, concerns a lot of unprecedented discrepancies and not-completely-realized character representation that this novel, fortunately, lacks. Rather than being thrusted into a fast-paced series of purposely turbulent events that can, frankly, become overwhelming to an inexperienced viewer, Brooks has cultivated an atmosphere more lyrically soothing and significantly more explanatory without compromising the original integrity of George Lucas’s literature; readers are offered more character insight, circumstances in the film are reworked and occasionally including film-originating dialogue, and there are further scenes included in the novel which comprehensively enhance the thrilling nature of the Star Wars prequel trilogy which initially attracted viewers. The unfortunate pacing of the film was completely neglected in this novel and instead readers are lent the fictitious experience nearing comprehensiveness—greatening Obi-Wan’s contribution, evaluating and deeply assessing the interrelationships between the characters which viewers of the film were wordlessly provided, and expanding the novel’s broadness by addressing all perspectives of the Trade Federation and the Jedi in the fashion of a cutscene from the film—rather than uselessly and repeatedly relaying previously absorbed information with no further flavor. This is truly an extraordinary novel adaptation which ventures beyond the constraints of the film’s two-hour time slot, and I would regard it a required read for fans of the prequel trilogy.
Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore
Based on the 2002 George Lucas-directed film Attack of the Clones, R.A. Salvatore managed to capture the true essence of this later installment and continuation of the evolution of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala—a feat which the film attempted with great promise but was not fully explored due to time constraints. This novelization presents an even further and more comprehensive perspective into the cultivation of Anakin and Padme’s relationship, offering the written adaptation of scenes shot but ultimately deleted from the original film. Aside from the overall extension of substance and material, all implemented with the upmost grace and integrity beyond the original script, expanded were also the roles of Jar Jar Binks as a temporary representative in the Senate, explained and detailed were the ventures of Jango and his son, Boba Fett, and gaps appearing in the film were ultimately bridged with nothing less than rigorously thorough and wildly inventive narratives which only enhances the character of this section in the prequels. This novel truly captures one of cinema’s greatest and most doomed romances, never sacrificing a single element all the while.
Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
This novel was very hard for my impractical heart to read. The film, though some periodic components weren’t entirely explored due to time constraints, was an incredible visual representation of Anakin’s anguish and the subsequent birth of Darth Vader. The breaking of friendships and sibling-hoods, the ruin of a promising marriage, and ultimately, the total collapse of the Republic and fluid rebirth of an ugly empire—these are all elements beautifully written in lyrical, stylistic prose by Stover, and his great attention and expansion of detail allows readers access to even farther content and internal monologue that I would have previously perceived. A score of brand-new information I was able to learn for the first time when immersed in this novel, and I even gained insight of originally unknown filling characters, never-addressed side schemes, and personal details of the relationship between Anakin and Obi-Wan that, comprehensively, makes their individual characters and their doomed affection all the fuller—and all the more devastating. Such as in The Clone Wars television show, readers are allowed sparse content of Clone Commander Cody and greater knowledge of true intents all fitted in the package of an intricately illustrated internal conflict of Anakin, written with such a knowledgeable vigor it is insurmountably painful. An extraordinary read, and an even more extraordinary story, we witness the fall and feel the regret, as Obi-Wan says, of the man Anakin should have been. And in the final pages, it is expressed to us what it feels like to be Anakin Skywalker, harrowed and wrenching, “forever.”