I move forward, because dwelling on my shame doesn’t help anyone.Shadow Fall, page 333
Shadow Fall is the second book of the Alphabet Squadron trilogy by Alexander Freed. This story sets off in the aftermath of the destruction and revelations that occurred in the first book. Yrica Quell and the rest of Alphabet Squadron are attempting to defeat Imperial remnants on a planet of strategic value to the New Republic. They decide to lay a trap to lure the elusive and dangerous Shadow Squadron to them. The goal is to minimize losses and defeat them without ship to ship combat. Against this backdrop, the crew of Alphabet Squadron struggle to overcome their own demons and the impacts of war on their psyche.
What I Liked
I enjoyed this book more than the first book in this series. This was largely because I liked the characters more in this book than the last. They faced interesting dilemmas and almost all of them experienced some character growth. Each character seemed to portray a different struggle commonly faced by those involved in war. I particularly enjoyed Yrica’s journey of dealing with her shame and guilt…even though the outcome made me angry at the character. I also liked seeing Wyl come into his own as a leader while struggling to deal with how best to use his empathy for others in a war-time setting. Chas’s journey to figure out where she belongs after the war was also compelling. Overall, the characters were one of the greatest parts of the novel.
I also loved the way this author depicted the battles and flight sequences. He does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are in the trenches or cockpit with the characters. These descriptions and the peeks into the character’s mindsets during the battles made the last half of the book hard to put down. The ending of the book left me wanting more, and I am looking forward to reading the last book in the series.
Another random tidbit…I enjoyed the torture robot turned therapist droid, IT-O. His backstory was expanded upon in this book and was well-done. His interactions with Yrica were one of my favorite things about the book.
What I Didn’t Like
This book was difficult to get through in the beginning. The first third of this book was mind-numbingly boring to me. There was some characterization and a small amount of flight battles in that bit, but it wasn’t very interesting. I almost gave up on it, and I do not DNF books very often, especially Star Wars books. The plot also seemed very forced at different points in the story and felt as though certain things happened only because they had to in order to move the story along. I was a bit disappointed that Kairos got sidelined for most of the book, especially since most of the other characters grew throughout the story. I’m hoping she will be more of a major player in the next book because I want to learn more about her.
In summary, this book was a mix of beautiful battle descriptions, interesting character growth, boring swaths of writing, and a somewhat shaky plot. It did a pretty good job of tackling the mindset of those experiencing brutal warfare and processing the impact of shame and guilt on the psyche of soldiers. However, it was a very boring read for most of the first half of the book and sidelined one of the most interesting characters. So, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.