With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soon, 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 thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)
Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape by Cavan Scott (softcover, 2016)
Since 1995, World Book Day has been an event celebrated in western countries to promote literacy (along with reading in general, copyright, and publishing). In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the local version of World Book Day is held in early March. Children across the UK and Ireland receive World Book Day Book Tokens, which they can exchange for (you guessed it!) books geared toward younger readers.
For the 2016 World Book Day, Egmont published an exclusive new Star Wars story that is both a World Book Day exclusive and by extension an exclusive release in the UK and Ireland that does not have a U.S. counterpart. (In other words, if you want this one, you will need to hit up some UK sellers like Book Depository or Amazon UK, or try your luck on Ebay.)
Rather than being a standalone work, the tale in question, Adventures in Wild Space: The Escape by Cavan Scott, is actually the first book (billed as a “prelude”) in a brand new series by Scott and fellow author Tom Huddleston. The series proper is also currently exclusive to the UK and Ireland.
Adventures in Wild Space
The Adventures in Wild Space series 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, who have been taken captive by Korda. It is under that premise that two full-length junior novels have been released (The Snare and The Nest) with two more coming soon (The Dark and The Steal).
As a prelude to The Snare, which is billed as book #1 in Adventures in Wilid Space, The Escape provides a half-length story (at a little under 100 pages) that shows the original capture of the Grafs by Korda and how the adventures of Lina, Milo, Crater, and Morq truly begin.
Now, if that sounds like I’ve just spoiled the book, well . . . they spoil it themselves by basically saying the same thing on the back of the book. This is a book to read to see how and why things happen, rather than what happens.
In general, Lina and Milo are decent enough characters for their age and the age of the intended readers. They carry echoes of Jaina and Jacen Solo in that Lina is quite technically savvy, while Milo is all about nature and animals. Their age, actions, and lack of Force abilities give the book (and series) a feel that somewhat resembles Galaxy of Fear, though the target age group results in a book (and series) that lacks the plot complexity of something like Servants of the Empire. Moreover, there are times when Lina’s technical savvy makes her the Star Wars equivalent of Wesley Crusher, accomplishing feats that few readers would realistically believe a ten-year-old could pull off. (Thankfully, that aspect of Lina is downlplayed in this installment.)
The story works well enough as an introduction. I am, in fact, rather surprised at how essential this book is to the rest of the series. Jumping in with “book #1,” The Snare, will leave the reader rather perplexed on multiple plot points. It might have made more sense for The Snare to be a bit longer, with the content of The Escape as a first third of that book.
Adventures in Wild Space has potential, and while it does not reach the level of plot complexity of Servants of the Empire, it evokes enough of the Young (well, okay, more like Junior) Jedi Knights and Galaxy of Fear series to make it something that adult readers who read those junior series might want to check out. If nothing else, the series will be intriguing to American readers by virtue of being overseas exclusives, much like The Bounty Hunter, Jedi Dawn, the last few Decide Your Destiny books, and many of the comics never reprinted from the UK’s The Clone Wars magazine.
If you intend to read Adventures in Wild Space, you need to read The Escape. It is a crucial piece of the story. If you are looking for it, though, be sure to search UK sites to have much better luck than a search of American sites will net. (I have seen these go for a hefty price tag on Ebay, despite being readily available through UK sites that offer cheap or free international shipping. Think globally, folks.)
Recommended for: Those looking for a new, original Star Wars series, aimed at younger audiences, along with those who might have picked up the main series without already checking out this prelude.
Not recommended for: Those looking for particularly complex storytelling.
The copy used for this review was a retail purchase.