Shatterpoint

June 1, 2016 at 6:00 pm (Reads) (, , )

pointShatterpoint by Matthew Stover

—–

The Clone Wars. Mace Windu. Mace Windu in the Clone Wars. How could this be bad? Well, when the author doesn’t use Mace Windu, for one.

Yes, yes, that’s Mace on the cover, and yes, he features in the novel. The problem is the Mace Windu in Shatterpoint is not the same Mace Windu in the prequels (and let’s face it, Mace Windu is one of the best things about the prequel movies). He’s supposed to be, but Stover decides to make Mace Windu into some amalgamation of the character from the movies and Jules Winnfield, going heavy on the Jules in creating his central character. A Mace Windu who has trouble controlling his temper, shouts in people’s faces, and threatens violence and death on anyone who crosses his path is not a Jedi. He’s treading on the Dark Side, which might make for an interesting theme, but Stover doesn’t use any subtlety in how he portrays his character.

Mace in the movies is intense, yes, and even threatening, but he’s never out of control. In Shatterpoint we meet a man who likes to fight, and wants to fight, but struggles with holding on to the Light Side of the Force to resist those urges. To his credit, Stover attempts to create an environment that makes people more susceptible to the Dark Side, but it doesn’t ring true with me. The author doesn’t create his setting and atmosphere well enough to convey that properly, which makes his version of Mace Windu even more out of place in the story.

In the story, Mace travels back to his home planet, a barely hospitable planet covered in dense poison gas, with the only habitable regions existing in the points of the land that rise above the gases. There, the inhabitants live either in cities or the jungle, with the jungle being a dangerous place. Much has been made in other reviews of Stover’s attempt to make the story a combination of Star Wars and Apocalypse Now, so I won’t go into that except to say that I didn’t find it convincing. The two kinds of stories don’t mesh well at all, especially when your central character is supposed to be a Jedi.

I also had trouble with Stover’s style of writing. His pace and action are fine, but he has a bad habit of overusing colons, and not even properly. He does this thing: it’s this thing where he uses it for effect. It doesn’t really work, though: all it really does is distract the reader. I got more and more used to it the longer I read: but then he would go and use it in a way that distracted me again. I’m not impressed with writers who want to appropriate grammar for their own uses; they should just stick with the normal rules and not try to get too fancy.

Based on other reviews, I see there’s a lot of love for this story, so maybe I’m missing the point, but I couldn’t find much to like in it. My biggest issue is the disconnect between the Mace Windu in the book and the one in the prequel movies; had it been handled more appropriately, or with a touch more subtlety, I might have liked it more. As it is, though, I’m hard pressed to recommend it.

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