Star Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks or months thereafter on the podcast.
Adventures in Wild Space: The Dark by Tom Huddleston (softcover, 2016)
The Dark is book #4 in Adventures in Wild Space, though technically the fifth entry in the series if one considers the essential prelude book, The Escape, from World Book Day. You can find my previous reviews of The Escape, The Snare, The Nest, and The Steal here on SWR.
It should also be noted that Adventures in Wild Space is a series currently exclusive to the UK and Ireland. However, a U.S. release is coming later this year. In that release, The Escape will be included in the first numbered book in the series, The Snare.
Adventures in Wild Space
Adventures in Wild Space (by Cavan Scott and Tom Huddleston, each writing separate books) follows Lina Graf (age 10), Milo Graf (age 9), their droid CR-8R (Crater), and their Kowakian Monkey-Lizard (Morq) as they face off with the Empire (in the person of Captain Korda, an officer with a metal jaw akin to Darth Malak in Legends or Jaws in the James Bond franchise). Their goal is to save their parents, a pair of explorers who have been taken captive by Korda. The Empire, it seems, wants their exploration data about Wild Space as it expands. It is under that premise that a half-length junior novel (The Escape) and now four full-length junior novels (The Snare, The Nest, The Steal, and The Dark) have been released.
The Dark (or The Darkness for its upcoming U.S. release)
The end of The Steal (or The Heist in the U.S.) left Milo, Lina, and CR-8R captives of the bounty hunter known as the Shroud (saying more than that would spoil the main twist of The Steal). This tale thus focuses upon their efforts to somehow free themselves and continue their search for their parents, who remain in Imperial custody.
The story is a bit on the odd side, though certainly stronger and more “on point” for the series than Huddleston’s previous effort, The Nest. The tale essentially features two antagonists: cyborg spiders that tie into a villain of the Darth Vader comic series and a fellow prisoner known to the galaxy as the “Butcher of Brentaal IV.” Oddly, the expected antagonist, the Shroud, is removed from play for the majority of the book, despite being built up as a menacing figure in The Steal and appearing prominently on The Dark‘s cover.
Again, ties to Rebels can be found here, as well as a major twist that is somewhat obvious for adult readers but typical fare for young reader books of this type. Moreover, it feels (as in the case of The Steal) that the series is firmly heading somewhere as the story concludes, rather than meandering along aimlessly as in The Nest. This is definitely Huddleston’s best outing for the series so far, though given that the only other work to compare it to is The Nest, that’s a bit like being valedictorian of summer school.
Taken as a whole, Adventures in Wild Space remains a series that started with promise and has been slowly but surely building toward its potential. While The Dark has some strange writing choices (sidelining what seemed to be the series’ next big antagonist, Huddleston’s apparent fascination with creature adversaries, etc.), it propels the series along in solid fashion, making it a worthy new entry in the series. If you were turned off to Huddleston’s approach to the series with The Nest, you need not be wary of The Dark. This is a necessary component in the saga of the Graf children.
Recommended for: Those interested in the continuing adventures of the Grafs or more glimpses into the early rebellious activities of some Rebels-related characters.
Not recommended for: Those trying to jump into the story here, rather than following the earlier adventures in the “serialized” series. There isn’t a lot here to catch new readers up if the previous books (especially The Steal) have been skipped.
The copy used for this review was a retail purchase.Powered by Sidelines