Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Riptide

Star Wars: Riptide (Paul S. Kemp)


Plot

Riptide is set immediately after the events of Crosscurrent. The main plotline concerns Jaden, Khedryn, and Marr's quest to capture or destroy the escaped clones. This aspect of the story works well. Conflicts that are smaller and less important to the galaxy at large are very refreshing after the NJO, LOTF, FOTJ triad. It also allows for a bit of intrigue concerning Jaden's true identity, and serves as a launching board for several side plots.

The secondary plots are hit or miss. The "Prime" clone, Soldier (a replica of Jaden), is an interesting character, but scenes where he interacts with his fellow clones are hurt by the fact that every other clone is completely devoid of personality, and single minded in their desires and motives. Similarly, the Umbaran assassins under the employ of The One Sith are creative characters, but their sub plot doesn't really go anywhere, and ultimately they end up being an afterthought similar to Kell Douro from the previous novel.

Not every side plot is bad, however. Marr's developing connection to the Force is great, and allows for some wonderful interaction between himself and Jaden. This ties into the main story at quite a few junctures, and further endears Marr to the reader. Khedryn is also changed as a result of this connection, though that isn't explored enough for my tastes. In fact, after the first few pages, the trio is rarely in the same room at the same time, and much of Khedryn's story involves him doing something reckless, then saving himself at the last minute. It would've been more compelling to see Khedryn's struggle with becoming an outsider on his own ship, and becoming an increasingly less significant player in the quest to capture the clones.

Another sub plot involves the revelation of Mother's identity. The best part about this is that it ties into the Knights of the Old Republic video game. Everything else is hard to relate to. Firstly, it is apparent from the onset what Mother's motives truly are. The scene between Mother and the prophetic clone Seer is so cliche that it is embarrassing. Mother is also basically unstoppable, so of course our heroes have to run away from her. Overall, this sub plot was probably killed before it got a chance to shine. Mother accomplishes precious little, and letting her wreak some havoc before being stopped would've been entertaining and more enduring than simply another overgrown, short lived, threat.

Characterization
The protagonists remain extremely strong in this book. Marr's journey through the Force allows for an interesting character arc for himself, Jaden, and Khedryn. Jaden was probably my least favorite of the three in Crosscurrent, but he shines here as a teacher and mentor, while also retaining a firm grasp on the mission. The group's loyalty to one another is tested in several ways throughout the story, and Marr's actions during the final scenes of the book could have exciting repercussions in continuations of the series.

The clones are extremely dull and one dimensional, with the exception of Prime, who is actually a very complex character. He is driven by a desire to protect people that despise him, and he has his doubts about Mother which the rest of the group doesn't seem to share. The only drawback to his character is that, for much of the book, there isn't really anyone for him to interact with. He has potential, but the only characters he can talk to are his fellow dull clones. The Umbarans are similarly boring, and fail to develop in any meaningful way for the course of the novel. Outside of their abilities, they are completely forgettable.

Prose

The writing style perfectly suits the task at hand. Descriptions are great; the imagery on board the ancient ship is particularly fascinating and well thought out. Though that sequence had its flaws, the setting certainly wasn't one of them as the ancient corpses, suffocating method of transportation, and desolate hallways definitely ratchet up the creepiness. The other descriptions aren't as powerful, but the frequent use of darkness and shadows compliments the principal villains and adds to the horror feel of this series.

Action scenes are mostly great too. The Umbaran's ability to shut off lightsabers makes for some very odd combat techniques, and duels between Jaden and the clones are very exciting. There is even some space combat thrown in, which is very exciting due to the mass chaos going on at the time of the battle. The dialogue is adequate. It augments the relationship between Jaden, Marr, and Khedryn very adeptly, but leaves much to be desired in segments between the Umbarans and clones which tend to have an expository slant.

Finally, some very powerful writing  highlights the emotional journeys of Marr, Jaden, and Soldier. Their thoughts and feelings come alive masterfully, and overall the writing here is excellent.

Conclusion

Riptide is a solid continuation of Crosscurrent. It is more focused than the previous novel, and it successfully furthers the characterization of the three central characters, while introducing some new mysteries and plot points to be used in future books. A good, but not great read.

Final Score

78/100

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