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Audiobook Review: Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed
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Star Wars Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed

Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron
Hardcover | Kindle | Audiobook
Alphabet Squadron Trilogy, Book 1
Written by Alexander Freed
Narrated by Saskia Maarleveld
Publisher: Del Rey Books | Random House Audio
Release date: June 11, 2019

Star Wars: Alphabet Squadron is the first in a promised trilogy of books focusing on Navy pilots in the years following the Battle of Endor, after the Rebellion transitions into being the New Republic. The reason for the naming is because the squadron consists of pilots flying practically every letter-designated ship we’ve ever seen in the Star Wars saga — X-Wing, A-Wing, B-Wing, Y-Wing, and even Rogue One‘s U-Wing.

But even more eclectic than the variety of ships is the group of pilots. Brought together by a Rebel spy and tasked with hunting down and destroying every remaining member of Shadow Wing, the Empire’s elite and still-active squadron of at-all-costs pilots, the Alphabet Squadron consists of sole survivors of disbanded Rebel fighter groups, Imperial Navy defectors, and even a former member of the now-targeted Shadow Wing itself.

But can this ragtag band of conflicting personalities and motivations become the team it needs to be in order to complete the task at hand?

In more ways than I can count, this story reminds me of a New Republic Navy version of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story: totally conflicting personalities from both sides of the conflict brought together by a singular mission and led by a spy. And they will do whatever it takes to finish the job even if it means defying some of the moral and ethical code that defines the Rebellion/New Republic. For lack of a better way to think about it, both are the stories of the antiheroes fighting against the Empire. Using dark methods to achieve good, or, at least, “better.”

I only wish the story was as engaging as Rogue One. It starts very slowly and it took some time before I felt truly involved. Once I got invested in the story, I was let down by an overly long ending that didn’t have the level of satisfaction of, say, Rogue One. I also found myself not taking too great a personal interest. No one stood out to me as particularly sympathetic or relatable, although there is one with promise whom I will be looking forward to seeing develop in the second and third books. In fact, most of the characters are ones that you’d almost prefer to disregard entirely.

Don’t get me wrong, there is promise here. Perhaps this entire novel is only the book equivalent of a movie’s first act. It’s just a long first act. But I do appreciate the focus of it… less on the Jedi and more on the traditional warriors. This will likely help prepare us all for the non-Skywalker movies forthcoming from The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson as well as Game of Thrones creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff. I also can’t wait to read the companion TIE Fighter miniseries mentioned in the publisher description below.

From the publisher:

The first novel in a new trilogy starring veteran New Republic pilots!

On the verge of victory in a brutal war, five New Republic pilots transform from hunted to hunters in this epic Star Wars adventure. Set after Return of the Jedi, Alphabet Squadron follows a unique team, each flying a different class of starfighter as they struggle to end their war once and for all.

The Emperor is dead. His final weapon has been destroyed. The Imperial Army is in disarray. In the aftermath, Yrica Quell is just one of thousands of defectors from her former cause living in a deserters’ shantytown—until she is selected to join Alphabet Squadron.

Cobbled together from an eclectic assortment of pilots and starfighters, the five members of Alphabet are tasked by New Republic general Hera Syndulla herself. Like Yrica, each is a talented pilot struggling to find their place in a changing galaxy. Their mission: to track down and destroy the mysterious Shadow Wing, a lethal force of TIE fighters exacting bloody, reckless vengeance in the twilight of their reign.

The newly formed unit embodies the heart and soul of the Rebellion: ragtag, resourceful, scrappy, and emboldened by their most audacious victory in decades. But going from underdog rebels to celebrated heroes isn’t as easy as it seems, and their inner demons threaten them as much as their enemies among the stars. The wayward warriors of Alphabet Squadron will have to learn to fly together if they want to protect the new era of peace they’ve fought so hard to achieve.

Part of a Marvel and Del Rey crossover event, Alphabet Squadron is the counterpart to Marvel’s TIE Fighter miniseries, which follows the exploits of Shadow Wing as they scheme to thwart the New Republic.

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