Book Review – Star Wars: Doctor Aphra

Author: Sarah Kuhn

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Length: 288 pages

Read Date(s): May 13, 2021 – May 14, 2021


Goodreads Synopsis

Dr. Aphra teams up with Darth Vader himself in the original script to the audiobook production—an expanded adaptation of the critically acclaimed Marvel comics series.

Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra, rogue archaeologist, is in trouble again.

A pioneer in the field of criminal xenoarchaeology, Aphra recognizes no law, has no fear, and possesses no impulse control. To her, the true worth of the galactic relics she discovers isn’t found in a museum but in an arsenal. This viewpoint has led to a lot of misunderstandings. After her latest plan goes horribly wrong, her roguish ways are on the verge of catching up to her. That’s when suddenly Darth Vader, terror of the galaxy, swoops in with his lightsaber and . . . saves her life?

Don’t get her wrong—it’s not like she’s ungrateful. Sure, her new boss is a lord of the Sith. And okay, she may have just become a pawn in a deadly game being played by him and his boss, who happens to be the Galactic Emperor. And yes, the life expectancy of anyone who disappoints Vader can be measured in seconds.

But she’s back doing what she does best. She’s got a ship to fly, a heist to pull, and two unorthodox but effective metal buddies: Triple-Zero, a protocol droid specializing in etiquette, customs, translation, and torture, and BT-1, an astromech loaded with enough firepower to take down a battlecruiser. Together, they might just find a way to get the job done and avoid the deadly performance review that waits at its conclusion.

Just kidding. She’s doomed.

My Review

I’m a huge fan of all the characters in this book (Doctor Aphra might actually be my favorite character from the new canon), and I loved the story when I read it in the Darth Vader comics several years ago. It just didn’t work for me in this format. The story came off as somewhat disjointed, which isn’t surprising given it was originally from a comic book. The scenes often felt disconnected and jumpy with a frenetic pace, which is also likely a result of how short this script was. It mostly felt like a play by play retelling of the comics without much added depth. I was hoping for even more insight into the characters, but I think the surface was only just scratched. The setup of having Doctor Aphra narrate the entire adventure while also being the main character in the dialogue wasn’t good. I would often need to double back to determine if a particular line was something she said as part of the narration or in dialogue with one of the other characters. It took me out of the story many times as I was reading. That being said, though, I don’t know how else the author could have structured it since the narration is what tied all the different pieces together into a cohesive story.

I did appreciate the nuance this script added to the character of Doctor Aphra. In the comic, she is smart, sarcastic, impulsive, brash, and seemingly careless, but in a calculating way. All of her fun and quirky attributes are on display here, but I also saw some of the reasons for and origins of these attributes. I enjoyed seeing her come to terms with her viewpoint of connection as a weakness while simultaneously wanting nothing more than to be seen by others as someone who is great. I particularly enjoyed learning about the backstory to her relationship with Sana Starros. Although, I wish the author had found a way to include Sana’s “marriage” to Han that was mentioned in the comics. I would have loved to get Aphra’s reaction to their potential romantic connection given her reaction to Han in this story. I also think it was a missed opportunity to easily include some bi+ rep in the story, and the story seemed to somewhat erase the bi vibes of Sana present in the comics.

I enjoyed the other characters here, as well. Darth Vader was particularly interesting in this story because we got to see his reaction to finding out about his son. The murder bots were also a hilarious duo, as they always are.

Overall, the story and characters are good. However, the pacing and format were choppy and somewhat disjointed. The script also didn’t provide the depth I was looking for. Therefore, I rate it 3 out of 5 stars. I suggest picking up the comics instead because it has basically the same story and some really great art.

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