Episode II: Attack of the Clones

May 12, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

clonesEpisode II: Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore

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I won’t lie: I wasn’t looking forward to reading this book. This is my least favorite of all seven movies, because of the unconvincing dialogue and love story that made up such a large part of the movie. Sure, the dialogue in the novel wouldn’t be delivered by Hayden Christiansen, but based on my reading of The Phantom Menace, I expected the author to stick with the dialogue as Lucas wrote it. And let’s face it — that would be a terrible idea.

Salvatore did keep the dialogue as is, but he also expanded on some scenes, giving us more insight into the characters. This was important to me, because one of the sticking points I have with this movie is how Padmé falls for Anakin. Both of their performances were wooden and flat, but Anakin came across as immature, arrogant, and obsessive, while Padmé was regal, refined, and honorable. It never made any sense to me that Padmé would get involved with him, unless there was some other force driving her to marry him. Unfortunately, Salvatore didn’t delve deeply enough into it to make it any more convincing than what was portrayed in the movie. The entire fall of Anakin relies on his love of Padmé, so the story hinges on convincing us of that love; instead, Anakin comes across as a creepy stalker, and when Padmé finally tells him that she loves him, “truly, deeply”, it’s as convincing as the Emperor telling someone, “Trust me.”

I have this vague idea that she and the other Jedi had a clearer vision of the future than they let on, and knew that Anakin wasn’t the chosen one, but that he would father the one who was. Since he was already obsessed with Padmé, they sent him on the mission to protect her, despite his attachment and despite his not being ready for such an assignment. Obi-Wan even raises his reservations with Mace Windu, who responds coolly, “The council is confident in its decision”, adding that not all their questions about him have been answered. The Jedi aren’t ones to obfuscate, but based on the way Padmé responds to him in her quarters, the fact that Jedi aren’t supposed to harbor attachments or even have relationships, and the fact that Padmé never shows any real emotion to Anakin, I can’t help but think the relationship was forced.

This was my first time reading Salvatore, which is a surprise to me. When I was younger, his Forgotten Realms books were on my radar, but I never got around to reading him. He’s been around a long time, and has built a big reputation, but I can’t say I was impressed with his skills. He seems to tell more than show, and his battle sequences, while detailed, don’t really get into the heads of the people in the battle; instead, he focuses on the events, and tells them as an observer. Plus, he spends a great deal of pages on the lead-up to Geonosis, and then rushes through the events of that battle over the span of forty pages. At one point, I was asking myself if I were remembering details from Revenge of the Sith and putting them into Attack of the Clones, since I kept telling myself there wasn’t enough time left in the book to cover what I remembered. To his credit, Salvatore reduces the amount of time given Threepio’s slapstick routine during the battle of Geonosis, but it’s still there, and as cringe-worthy as one would expect.

It’s difficult to rate this book on its own, since I already know the movie. The story isn’t improved much by being novelized, and my disappointment in the story shouldn’t be credited to Salvatore, since he was just adapting the source material. Still, I’ve read better Star Wars books, an even better Star Wars novelizations. On the bright side, the next glut of books will be about the Clone Wars, which is something I’ve been wanting to experience since I saw the first movie when I was five years old (I still haven’t seen the movie or the animated series).

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