Huddleston, Tom

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

2.7 out of 5

(3 books)

Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Dark

Book five (Prelude inclusive) of the series sees Lina and Milo prisoners of the bounty hunter known as the Shade.  However, en route to being delivered to the Empire the Shade's ship is disabled.  The Graf children then find themselves trapped aboard the drifting vessel with two other prisoners, one of whom is a murderer.

The premise of this story reminded me very much of John Whitman's Galaxy of Fear books, but the truth is the potential for a bit of young adult horror is wasted here.  Instead we get a fairly bland and predictable series of 'twists' and an uninspiring resolution.  On top of this is the fact that this whole book is entirely inconsequential to the continuing story of Milo and Lina's search for their parents.  In terms of the overarching plot of the series it is one big circular detour which takes the story nowhere.

Not an objectionable book, but a disappointment in a series which, in Cavan Scott's 'The Steal', had started to become a bit more interesting.

Next in the series is Scott's 'Adventures In Wild Space - The Cold'.

2 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Nest

The third book of the series (if you include the Prelude), following on from Cavan Scott's 'The Snare' and set amid the Dark Times between Episodes III and IV (approximately 18 BBY by the EU calendar).  Lina and Milo Graf, with their companions Morq and CR-8R, follow a mysterious transmission to a remote planet in the hopes of finding fellow rebels but instead find themselves stranded in a deadly game reserve.

My main criticism of the previous books of this series was the fact that they felt incomplete, as if they were just chapters in a book, rather than distinct stories in their own right.  Huddleston corrects this failing and here we get a complete adventure for the Graf kids, which is certainly what the series title made me hope for.  This does come with its own downside and that is that it doesn't really advance the overall plot of the search for Milo and Lina's parents, showing that there is still a degree of balance to be found before this series really hits its stride.

Overall the Graf children are just blank cyphers for readers to put themselves into the story but in this book we do get a bit of a hint of character for Milo, as his fascination for biology comes to the fore and becomes important to the plot.  However, it is the new characters on offer here that are far more interesting.  They're a group of mercenaries and technicians hired by Gozetta, a trophy hunter more than used to getting her own way.  When the willful Gozetta comes up against the deadly creature which lives in the titular nest, there's a great 'immovable object versus unstoppable force' vibe.

Despite all these improvements over the preceeding books, this is still a fairly shallow reading experience and there are far better Star Wars books, even for younger readers.  This one does end on a nicely enticing note however, as the main characters set course for the planet Lothal in search of rebels.

Followed by 'Adventures in Wild Space: The Steal' by Cavan Scott.

3 out of 5

 

Star Wars: Adventures In Wild Space - The Rescue

Book six or seven (depending on whether you count the Prelude), set around 18 BBY, following on from Cavan Scott's 'The Cold'.  This book is the conclusion to the story of Lina and Milo's search for their parents, as they attempt to infiltrate a planet covered in fungus in order to rescue their mother and father from the clutches of Governor Wilhuff Tarkin himself.

It is Tarkin which gives this book its strongest element, providing a genuinely credible antagonist for the Grafs at the 11th hour.  Part of me wishes that Tarkin had been the villian of the piece throughout the series and another part of me understands that he's probably more impactful when used sparingly.  Either way, Huddleston uses him to great effect here, perfectly capturing Tarkin's cunning, ruthlessness and confident superiority.

As with Cavan Scott's 'The Steal', this book also goes to some lengths to tie the series into the larger Star Wars mythology.  Be it Tarkin's search for quadanium (for use in some mysterious large-scale construction project... wonder what that could be?) or other ties which link specifically to the awesome 'Rogue One' (as novelised by Alexander Freed).

Overall, this isn't a mind-blowing conclusion to the story arc, but it is a perfectly satisfying one.  Enough that I'd happily read more books exploring the Grafs' future adventures with the Lothal rebels.

3 out of 5

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