“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” is full of the same magic as the first two entries. The invisibility Cloak, Quidditch, and Diagon Alley are all back as Harry, Ron & Hermoine start their third year at Hogwarts along with some new mainstays such as The Muarders Map, Crookshanks and Hogsmeade. The tone this year though is a bit darker though.
This darker tone is a new and welcome change to the series because otherwise it does feel like a rinse and repeat story line of the first two. The darker tone does make the book move at a slower pace. This isn’t really an issue because the first two are lightning fast, but it does give way to a small problem toward the end of the book.
In order to corral all of those loose ends she had been carefully hinting at for the entire book, Rowling left us with a pretty hefty info dump toward the end of it(the scene in the Whomping willow.) Of course “The Prisoner of Azkaban” is still great and every author is entitled to an info dump if they have you hooked up until that point, but it does take you out of the story.
Because of this sudden info dump, the end felt rushed. This could have been because Rowling originally had a much longer draft and had to cut it significantly back because, well, it’s a children’s book and it’s longer then the first two as it is now.
I don’t think this you would deter you from reading this book if you enjoyed the others and it shouldn’t. Besides odds are if you’re a real fan of the series, you’ve already read this book a long time ago.
“Aftermath” is a story about the little people in the StarWars universe right after a huge event took place. That event was the destruction of the second Death Star and fall of the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi.
By “little people” I mean the most major character in this story is Wedge Antilles and his part isn’t even that big. Okay, Han and Chewie have a very small part too but if you blink you’ll miss it. (Which is tough to do since you’re reading it.)
Instead, Wendig centers the story around a rag-tag band of unknowns which include a Rebel Fighter, her incredibly mechanically inclined Son, his self-built Droid, a Bounty Hunter, and an Ex-Imperial. These characters are all fun for the duration of the book and can get cheesy from time to time but they aren’t memorable. They honestly feel more like party members from one of the Old Knights of the Old republic games rather than potential “Cannon” characters. Although one does make an appearance in The Force Awakens. However, its another one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it deals. I’ll leave you to your own research to figure out who.
The character I enjoyed most was the Imperial Commander, Rae Sloan. She was essentially this stories “Villian.” but I felt she showed much more growth throughout the novel than the whole group of good guys combined.
Wending’s style of writing was perfect for the StarWars universe. If this shares one thing with TFA it’s the fast break-neck feel of the whole piece. Wendig’s chapters are short and effective and make you want to turn the page.
Speaking of chapters, the “Interlude” chapters are where “Aftermath” really shines. Each chapter is titled after a planet or city and focuses in on some small part of that setting. As word of the fall of the Empire gets around, many beings react very differently to it. These show that war is never over as quickly or cleanly as it was in Episode 1 when Anakin blows up the droid control ship and they all just power down permanently. It also adds to the sheer scale of the event.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book even if the characters were forgettable, the action and overarching story was not. The worst thing that happened to this book and the real reason I think people are hating on it so much was that it was marketed as a direct tie-in to The Force Awakens. (It was released in September just a month and a half before TFA hit theaters for crap sake!) Go into this book knowing that it won’t have basically anything to do with TFA and I think you will enjoy it as well.