Red Harvest

February 10, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

harvestRed Harvest by Joe Schreiber

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Zombies and Star Wars? Well, sure, it sounds odd, but so did zombies and Archie Anderson, and that turned out to be a pretty good story. Plus, the way that the Sith have been trying for millennia to come up with a way to cheat death, it makes sense that at some point one of them would create the living dead. Even if I weren’t reading all of the Star Wars books, I probably would have read this one just to see how well it was put together.

The combination works well enough, but not enough to make this novel feel like a Star Wars story. Sure, there are lightsabers and Sith and Jedi and starships and droids, but the book set in one location, on one planet, and it’s a story of survival than one of intrigue. It’s still engaging, and well-paced, but it just feels out of place in the Extended Universe.

Schreiber uses short chapters, which I like. It keeps the story focused on the action, and as he jumps from character to character, it helps keep the reader engaged. Also, I’m one of those readers who likes to stop reading at the end of a chapter, but their brevity kept me reading a lot longer than I normally would have, as I kept telling myself, “Well, I can finish three more pages before falling asleep…”.

I still have concerns over parts of the story, though some of it I can’t blame on the author. This isn’t the first book that’s had a Sith Academy, and there’s something weird about that to me. The Sith are taught to channel their selfishness and work toward individual achievement over the greater good, so why spend time training other Sith? Wouldn’t they be better served expanding their own powers? Philosophically, it just doesn’t make much sense to me.

At one point in the novel, one of the characters drinks an espresso, which took me out of the story for a minute. Other folks drink “caf”, which I can accept as another name for coffee in the Star Wars universe, but I have a hard time accepting that these folks have developed espresso, too. Why not come up with some variation of espresso instead of using a real-world example?

What really took me out of the story — and almost made me quit the book all together — was when Schreiber lifted Liam Neeson’s “I will find you” speech right out of Taken. It’s not a direct quote, but it’s close enough to take to court. Here’s what Schreiber’s character Trace says:

Listen to me…. I don’t know who you are, but I am in posession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I’ll let you go. But if you don’t, I promise you, I will track you down. I will find you. And I will make you pay.”

And here’s what Liam Neeson’s character says:

“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

I don’t know what Schreiber was intending by lifting the dialogue (it’s possibly the most-quoted line that Neeson has ever uttered), but it’s plagiarism. I’m shocked that this didn’t result in lawsuits.

Later, he starts a chapter with “It was a pleasure to burn”, which astute readers will recognize as the opening line to Fahrenheit 451. What’s up with this guy? Does he think that he’s paying homage by stealing lines from other peoples’ works?

As a horror novel, I think Red Harvest works fairly well; as a Star Wars novel, though, it’s not a good fit. Aside from it being more gruesome than political, it also strays from the content formula that makes these books appropriate for most ages of readers. As it is, I’d recommend the other books for fans of any ages, but Red Harvest is strictly a book for adults.

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