The adventures of Jax Pavan, Jedi Purge survivor, continue in The Last Jedi by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. Jax, Den Dhur, I-Five, and Laranth Tarak are on a top priority mission for the Whiplash underground resistance. They must safely smuggle one of Whiplash’s top leaders off of Coruscant before the Empire can successfully assassinate him. In route, however, something goes terribly wrong and it’s up to Jax and his crew to set things right while simultaneously staying very far away from Darth Vader.
For the rest of the review, to the jump!
First off, although this book is being marketed as a standalone, it’s definitely book four of Coruscant Nights but without the subtitle and with less time spent on planet. Readers who haven’t read those other three books will definitely be confused so do not start here. If readers enjoyed those books, then they will probably like this one as well but for those who disliked them, I’d suggest not reading The Last Jedi.
We’ll start with the good things. One of the neat things that the book does is that it tries to meld the two different canons regarding Dathomir. Reaves and Bohnhoff introduce us to both the Singing Mountain Clan and also the Zabrak-human Dathomiri hybrids from The Clone Wars cartoon. I appreciated that they made use of the Antarian Rangers and also some of the changes that I-Five undergoes through. Reaves and Bohnhoff do introduce some fun new characters such as Sacha Swiftbird but they are regulated to smaller side roles. Unfortunately, that’s where the good aspects end.
The plot is nothing terribly new or exciting. In fact, it felt like it dragged during many parts. While the overarching theme of rescuing Thi Xon Yimmon, the Whiplash Leader, is certainly clear, it almost feels too small for a 400+ page book. That’s not to say that every book needs to have a grand sweeping galactic quest but the plotline of “rescue the guy and stay away from Vader” just doesn’t feel like it’s worth an entire book. Additionally, some of the plot points and aspects give the novel a very video-game feel which is not a good thing. Towards the end, Jax goes through an experience that’s only missing a “You have leveled up!” for the finishing touch.
Characterization and characters are an area where this book is definitely lacking. One of the characters I preferred from the Coruscant Nights books was Pol Haus, a police prefect who turned out to be an ally for Jax and the rest The book is split into different storylines and subsequently suffers as we aren’t often given the opportunity to see characters like Jax and Haus interact. As for the characters we do get to see, Den feels like he’s just along for the ride and Jax continues to be… Jax. Out of the core group, only I-Five’s storyline is entertaining and those changes aren’t the main focus. Without spoiling anything, I felt that the death of a certain character minimized their contribution to the story and their own worth as an individual character and instead made their character all about Jax. It’s a disservice to that character and does nothing to help Jax’s characterization.
Aside from the above, one of the things that really bothered me about this book was the lack of main female characters. Of the 14 characters listed under Dramatis Personae, 9 are male, 1 is a male droid, and 4 are female. Of those four female characters, two appear in only about a quarter of the book and the other two could be maybe considered supporting characters. In other words, this book features a decidedly male cast and I’m disappointed in Reaves and Bohnhoff for doing so especially since Reaves can write excellent female characters, (see Barriss Offee in his MedStar duology). Sacha Swiftbird had the potential to be a much greater character had she been better utilized. I sincerely enjoyed reading about her when she was on page but it wasn’t nearly often enough. It’s honestly just very disappointing and I expected otherwise from both authors.
I give The Last Jedi a 2/5 and suggest that you pick it up only if you’re really interested in the further adventures of Jax Pavan.
Thank you to Random House for providing us with an advanced copy of the book for review purposes.