Transformers: Exiles

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Transformers: Exiles Book Cover Transformers: Exiles
Alex Irvine
Del Rey
October 4, 2011

The epic battles between Optimus Prime and Megatron have long thrilled Transformers fans. But these two giants weren’t always great leaders and bitter foes. This new novel continues the electrifying saga that started with Transformers: Exodus, unveiling the origins of the conflict—the explosive events that unfolded before Optimus and Megatron arrived Earthside, forever altering the destiny of their kind.

Once allies, Optimus and Megatron are now enemies in a civil war. To prevent Cybertron from falling into Megatron’s hands, Optimus jettisons the planet’s heart, the AllSpark, into space, then sets out to find it with Megatron hot on his heels. Optimus is determined to defeat Megatron, bring the AllSpark home, and restore Cybertron to its former glory.

But a saboteur lurks aboard Optimus’s spaceship, and ahead lie lost colonies, some of them hostile. Optimus needs help of the highest caliber, but from whom? Heroes such as Solus, Nexus, and Vector Prime are just names from make-believe stories of long ago. Or are they? Maybe it’s time for Optimus Prime to find out. Maybe it’s the only chance he has to vanquish mighty Megatron.


This review will contain spoilers regarding the previous book, Transformers: Exodus, as well as the related Transformers Prime television show.

Transformers: Exiles picks up shortly after the end of Exodus, with the Autobots onboard the Ark on the run from the Decepticon warship, the Nemesis. Planet Cybertron has more or less gone into a coma after millions of years of war, forcing the still battling factions to take to the stars. Exiles was supposed to cover the same story as the video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, but author Alex Irvine pretty much rewrote the story in his own image instead. If you have played those games and not read Exodus, you may be a little lost picking up Exiles.

As a series, Transformers is no stranger to continuity errors and a gratuitous amount of retconning. Like the previous book, Exiles feels rushed. We have the Autobots and Decepticons flying across the galaxy discovering lost civilizations who are involved in battles and other conflicts of their own in a single book. It makes planet-wide conflicts feel like small skirmishes.

The book also goes into the history of the original Transformers, the Thirteen Primes, and their artifacts. But this is, to a degree, a moot point. Over the course of the book Optimus finds pieces of an artifact that seems to be the Star Saber, the sword used by the leader of the Thirteen. But anyone who watched Transformers Prime knows that will not be the case, because the Star Saber shows up there. Characterization is not very good either (also like in Exodus). Characters are given practically no physical description and most of them are stereotypical. Autobots act heroic while Decepticons act like maniacs, except for major characters like Megatron and Optimus. It makes most of the dialogue seem very plain.

Following suit from Exodus, there are several errors in the book as well. At one point, Optimus mentions ejecting the AllSpark from Cybertron so Megatron could not infect it with Dark Energon. But back in Exodus, Optimus ejected it before Megatron had any Dark Energon. At another point, a spaceship magically appears out of nowhere after a flying Transformer had transported the characters previously. Overall this books rates the same as Exodus, which is not really a good thing. Exiles tries to do too much too fast and needs some editing, but does add a few important bits to the lore of the series. For a genuinely good Transformers read, stick to the comics.

April 9, 2017

Transformers: Exodus

Published Post author

Transformers: Exodus Book Cover Transformers: Exodus
Alex Irvine
Del Rey
June 22, 2010

For twenty-five years the colossal battle between Megatron and Optimus Prime has captivated Transformers fans around the world. Yet the full story of the conflict between the two most famous Transformers—everything that happened before Optimus and Megatron arrived on planet Earth—has always been a mystery . . . until now. Here, for the first time told in its entirety, is the thrilling saga of Optimus and Megatron before they were enemies, before they even knew each other.

“Freedom is every Cybertronian’s right!” After Megatron utters these immortal words, the caste-bound planet of Cybertron is rocked to its foundations. Megatron, an undefeated gladiator thug, gives voice to the unspoken longings of the oppressed masses—and opens the mind of an insignificant data clerk to possibilities previously unthinkable.
Long before becoming the honorable Optimus Prime, Orion Pax is a mere office underling, an unlikely candidate to answer an outlaw’s call to revolution. But Orion is determined to meet this defiant enemy of all that Cybertron stands for, no matter what he has to do, or how many laws he has to break.

What happens between Orion Pax and Megatron forever changes the destiny of all Transformers. This gripping, action-packed novel reveals all the loyalties and treacheries, trust and betrayals, deadly violence and shining ideals, as well as the pivotal roles played by other characters, including Starscream, Sentinel Prime, Omega Supreme, and one of the thirteen original Primes, the last link to Cybertron’s glorious Golden Age.

Discover how meek disciple Orion Pax becomes the fearless leader Optimus Prime; follow the tantalizing clues about the lost Matrix of Leadership and the lore surrounding it; find out why the two allies fighting a corrupt regime suddenly turn on each other, and what triggers their epic war. Transformers: Exodus provides everything fans ever wanted to know about one of the fiercest rivalries of all time.


Transformers: Exodus novel takes place in the same continuity as the television show Transformers Prime and the video games War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron. The following review makes a bit more sense for readers familiar with those things.

Part of the Aligned continuity family, Transformers: Exodus covers the same events as the War for Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron video games. Or at least proclaims to. Many details both small and large were changed for this story, from the way certain events happened to the origins of characters and outcomes of major events. For the “official history” of the Transformers civil war, it was certainly lacking.

Exodus starts out at an earlier point in time than War for Cybertron, showing Megatron’s gradual rise to power and the time he and Optimus spent as allies rather than enemies. Transformers is a multi-verse with various continuity families, but Exodus is specifically designed to meld with Transformers Prime and related materials. Yet, it does not. There are scores of differences between Exodus and War for Cybertron, such as the point of Starscream’s defection to the Autobots and the creation of Megatron’s warship.

Along with the differences, the book is also loaded with errors. For example, at one point Optimus seems to teleport between two cities on different parts of the planet, twice, within a span of six pages during a single conversation. The major outlying issue with everything that happens once the war gets started is that War for Cybertron and Fall of Cyberton told this same story but did it better. This war is supposed to have lasted for millions of years but Exodus does not leave that impression on readers. Bad descriptions do not stop at events either; virtually none of the characters are physically described so hopefully you already know what they all look like.

It would be a stretch to say that the book is all bad, but it is hard to see much good in it. This was as bad for Transformers books as Michael Bay was for the movies. With Transformers Prime being considered the high point of the television show by many fans, it kind of stinks that this serves as its official prequel. Exodus works fine as an outline but should not have been a standalone novel. Far too much of this story was cut out in a franchise that has had 25+ years to build itself up.

April 2, 2017

Power Rangers (2017)

Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Power Rangers"

Power Rangers

Together we are more

20172 h 04 min

Saban's Power Rangers follows five ordinary teens who must become something extraordinary when they learn that their small town of Angel Grove — and the world — is on the verge of being obliterated by an alien threat. Chosen by destiny, our heroes quickly discover they are the only ones who can save the planet. But to do so, they will have to overcome their real-life issues and before it’s too late, band together as the Power Rangers.

Director Dean Israelite
Runtime 2 h 04 min
Release Date 23 March 2017
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Good

Power Rangers was exactly what I was hoping it would be. Is this an A-list film that will win a bunch of awards? No. Will the critics like it? Also no; the demographic that is “critics” was not the target audience. This movie was designed to appeal younger teens today and adults who watched the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. In that, the movie excelled. The characters were (mostly) pretty good and there was a ton of action for the younger audiences. For older viewers, the movie has a ton of throwbacks and references to the TV show.

Since it is PG-13, this rendition of Power Rangers is darker and edgier than the original. The Rangers fit the “teenagers with attitude” description much better than their original counterparts. These are the troubled kids who are not really bad people but they are all going through hardship in some form or another that causes them to lash out. From family problems to cyber-bullying, each of them has issues. The actors and actresses portraying the Rangers did a pretty good job for young actors as well. The pacing for their character development was done very well; the movie did not feel fast but it certainly did not drag on either.

The action sequences do not really start to kick off until the last 1/3 of the movie or so. Rita was a pretty standard movie villain but it was great to see her backstory expanded. Zordon also got a more detailed backstory, which was also a nice touch. When the action did finally get going, it felt like the Rangers did not get enough screen time morphed. They end up hopping in the Zords shortly after morphing. While in them, the Rangers helmets open up to give the actors more facetime. Understandable, but seeing the Rangers doing more fighting as Rangers than pilots would have been nice.

This movie does not do anything spectacular but it is a great popcorn film. You are not trying to wrap your head around any great ideas; you can just sit there and chillax. If you do pop in to see this, stay for the mid-credits scene. Saban Entertainment has said they plan on doing about six of these and that scene hints at the next film. If these movies can go all the way through the original storyline of the show (up to the end of Power Rangers In Space) that would be fantastic, but we will see if they can get that far.

March 26, 2017

How Not to Kill Your Baby

Published Post author

How Not to Kill Your Baby Book Cover How Not to Kill Your Baby
Jacob Sager Weinstein
Andrews McMeel Publishing
March 20, 2012

Have you ever read a parenting book that left you feeling inadequate and/or terrified? In other words, have you ever read any parenting book whatsoever? If so, you need How Not To Kill Your Baby, a hilarious parody of every fear-mongering, crazy-making pregnancy and parenting manual you've ever cringed over.

Just consider the following advice:

"As you know if you have ever seen someone give birth in a movie or television show, all newborns emerge with adorable round faces, pudgy limbs, and twinkling eyes. If, by contrast, the nurse hands you a tiny, squawling creature with the face of an old man and skin covered in goo, hand it back immediately. There has clearly been some sort of mixup with a nearby ward for senile midgets."

"It's essential that you keep careful track of your baby's every bodily function. That way, when she is president of the United States and a paranoid-minded conspiracy movement springs up denying her eligibility for the position, you will have documentary proof that she did, in fact, poop on U.S. soil at 8:23AM on February 23."

"When choosing a nursery school, make sure to visit first, and ask the teachers about their educational philosophies. Then ask about their criminal records. If they insist they have none, you may need to keep asking, perhaps while shining a bright light in their face. Also, take their fingerprints, then follow them home from a discreet distance and go through their trash. Oh, and don't forget to thank them for their dedication to helping the young!"

"It is easy to adjust your parenting techniques as your children grow: simply do and say the exact same things, but raise your voice by one decibel for every year of your child's age.

How Not To Kill Your Baby is printed on child-safe, 100% piranha-free paper, and bound without the use of exploding staples. You'll get no such promise from What To Expect When You're Expecting.

How Not To Kill Your Baby is the book for you... unless you're some kind of baby-hating creep who wants to parent all wrong.


How Not to Kill Your Baby seemed like the perfect gift when my mother and step-father adopted a few months back. Granted they had already used me and two other siblings as practice babies, but extra prep never hurts. Admittingly, I could not help flipping through the book before putting a bow on it. In a nutshell, this book exemplifies how basically everything could easily kill your baby. Only key protective steps, like cocooning your baby in a permanent layer of bubble wrap, can keep them safe. Do not let the world mentally scar your little one because that is your job as a parent.

On a more serious note, this book is a satire. While it is a hilarious read, do not expect actual advice. A lot of the 1 or 2 star reviews for this book seem to be from people who missed a key part of the book called “comedy”. This “comedy” may be a strange and unknown concept to said people, who were sadly born without a funny bone. Or maybe their funny bone was broken by parents who failed to read this book and it did not heal properly, forever robbing them of the gift of genuine laughter. A truly sad thought.

Back to a cheerier note, this book is a belly tickler. It is a short read at only 136 pages and that does include pictures. This is something that can be read in under an hour but that just makes it a great coffee table book. Where else can you find precious advice about the horrifically terrifying act of raising a baby? Kids are tiny bundles of learning experiences. Does little Johnny know if he skins his knee it could get infected and require an amputation? Of course not! Kids will basically try to commit suicide on a daily basis out of sheer ignorance.

If you have friends on insist on those non-comical “serious” parenting books, slip this in there too. To slip back into seriousness, raising a child is a legitimately scary prospect. Getting a few laughs mixed into there can dissolve some of the nervousness of soon-to-be parents. Raising kids is a difficult process that there is no concrete formula for. And no one book could possibly cover it all. But as kids are little bundles of joy, it is important that a parent remembers to laugh. And this book will have you doing just that.

March 19, 2017

The Eye of Nefertiti

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The Eye of Nefertiti: A Pharaoh's Cat Novel Book Cover The Eye of Nefertiti: A Pharaoh's Cat Novel
Pharaoh's Cat
Maria Luisa Lang
Maria Luisa Lang
November 29, 2016

The Eye of Nefertiti is both a stand-alone novel and a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat. The time-traveling ancient Egyptian feline with human powers returns together with his beloved Pharaoh and his close friends, the High Priest of Amun-Ra and Elena, an Egyptologist’s daughter.

The cat is quick-witted, wise-cracking narrator as well as free-spirited, ever-curious protagonist, and the story he tells is an exotic, imaginative, spell-binding tragicomedy. The cat travels from present-day New York City to England, both ancient and modern, then to ancient Egypt, where he confronts a horrible demon and experiences a sublime emotion. Once back in England, he descends into a psychological abyss so deep only the Pharaoh can save him.

The Eye of Nefertiti interweaves feline and human, past and present, natural and supernatural. It contains numerous surprises, twists and turns, intriguing characters, both human and animal, fascinating revelations about ancient Egyptian history and culture, and an ingenious application of the Tarot and an Italian opera.

Maria Luisa Lang was born in Rome, Italy, and lives in New York City. She has a degree in art history and is an amateur Egyptologist. The Eye of Nefertiti is her second novel. Her first novel, The Pharaoh’s Cat, is also available on Amazon in paperback and in a Kindle edition.


The Eye of Nefertiti and its prequel, The Pharaoh’s Cat, were both provided to me freely by the author in exchange for honest reviews.

Picking up not long after the end of The Pharaoh’s Cat, Wrappa-Hamen’s adventures continue in The Eye of Nefertiti. This sequel was designed as a standalone book; the first book is summed up in the first chapter, so you do not have to read The Pharaoh’s Cat first. Still, reading the first book is recommended so you know the characters for this one. Like the first book, this is an adventure story featuring a time traveling talking cat with a penchant for trouble.

Wrappa-Hamen largely retains his character from the first book, being a snarky kitty who inadvertently (and advertently) causes mischief. He makes such a great character because it is what a sentient cat would probably really behave like. Wrappa-Hamen shows loyalty and love to his friends and family but is also a glutton who likes to take naps and avoid hard work. Alongside those continuing traits, Wrappa-Hamen does continue to learn and grow throughout the book. Other recurring characters get less focus and do not develop quite as much. On the flipside, we are also introduced to some nifty new characters as well.

Whereas The Pharaoh’s Cat felt a little lacking in detail, The Eye of Nefertiti was better paced. Wrappa-Hamen’s adventure went along at just the right pace this time around. It felt more like the characters were walking through the events at a nice pace rather than running through them. Like the first book, knowing a little bit about ancient Egypt helps. Nothing textbook heavy, just what you would expect to find in a basic book on the subject like knowing the major deities.

Despite being a walking (on two legs), talking cat, Wrappa-Hamen does seem to be capable of things that seem physically impossible. At one point, he mentions changing his own litter box. This seems like it would be very, very difficult considering he has no thumbs. But since he is magic, maybe this is cartoon logic where characters can just pick things up without the proper appendages (think VeggieTales). Beyond that one little tidbit, the book was an overall upgrade from The Pharaoh’s Cat. Maria Luisa Lang took what she accomplished with the first book and built it up into bigger and better things for The Eye of Nefertiti. Overall, this was a very fun book that I was happy to read and I do plan to keep my eye open for the next one.

March 12, 2017

The Pharaoh’s Cat

Published Post author

The Pharaoh's Cat Book Cover The Pharaoh's Cat
Pharaoh's Cat
Maria Luisa Lang
Maria Luisa Lang
May 16, 2015

The Pharaoh’s Cat, a tragicomic fantasy narrated in the present tense by the cat himself, tells of a free-spirited, wise-cracking stray in ancient Egypt who suddenly acquires human powers and immediately captivates the young Pharaoh, making him laugh for the first time since his parents’ death.

The cat becomes the Pharaoh’s constant companion and, at the royal palace and on a tour of Egypt, participates in the festivities, developing an insatiable appetite for good food, wine, and gossip. Gradually, he renews the Pharaoh’s ability to enjoy life and inspires him to become a stronger leader. The bond of selfless love they share will change Egypt’s destiny.

The cat has a good friend in the High Priest of the god Amun-Ra and seeks his help in solving the mystery of his human powers and the supernatural manifestations that plague him. He has a mortal enemy in the Vizier—the second most powerful man in Egypt--who hates him for his close relationship with the Pharaoh. The Vizier’s persecution of the cat ultimately results in his fleeing with the High Priest to present-day New York City, where they find an ally in an Egyptologist’s daughter.

Maria Luisa Lang was born in Rome and lives in New York City. She has a degree in art history and is an amateur Egyptologist. The Pharaoh's Cat is her first novel. The Eye of Nefertiti, both a sequel to The Pharaoh’s Cat and a stand-alone novel, is also available on Amazon in paperback and in a Kindle edition.


The Pharaoh’s Cat and its sequel, the Eye of Nefertiti, were sent to me complementary by the author for a pair of honest reviews.

This book is a fun little story about a talking cat in ancient Egypt and his best friend the Pharaoh. The historical references are not too detailed so anyone could follow that aspect of the book easily enough. Most of the references do with Egyptian mythology but stick to its more well-known areas. I knew the references thanks to Rick Riordan’s The Kane Chronicles so it is nothing too complex.

Wrappa-Hamen, the talking cat protagonist, is pretty much what I would expect if cats could really talk. He has a good heart, but tends to unintentionally cause trouble as he constantly tries to get food and avoid doing things he considers too much work. He also intentionally causes his fair share of trouble as well. The key good guys are the Pharaoh and the High Priest. While the Pharaoh is Wrappa-Hamen’s beloved companion, the High Priest is more of a friend and advisor. And of course, there is the evil Vizier. Forever following the unwritten rule that Vizier’s must be evil in stories such as these.

One thing I did not like about the book is that it felt too short. That is not to say the story needed more content overall. It felt like The Pharaoh’s Cat did not have enough meat on its bones. Things are not quite fast paced enough to feel rushed, but with more details added in the book could have been another 100 pages and it would have been fine. Some of the magical phenomenon are accepted quickly by the “normal” characters and certain events are more summarized than explained.

It is nice to see a fantasy book where the presence of magic is not overdone. Beyond Wrappa-Hamen being able to walk and talk, the presence of magic is subtle. Not every fantasy book needs wizards casting Magic Missile at the darkness; a small touch of magic here and there is still enough to give the story what it needs. Ultimately it was the short length of the book that made me decide on 3 stars instead of 4, but I like to think of The Pharaoh’s Cat as more of a 3.5 (if only the rating system would allow that). It was exciting enough to make me look forward to the sequel, which I will be reviewing next.

March 5, 2017


Published Post author

Poster for the movie "Split"


Kevin has 23 distinct personalities. The 24th is about to be unleashed.

20171 h 57 min

Though Kevin has evidenced 23 personalities to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher, there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Runtime 1 h 57 min
Release Date 19 January 2017
Movie Media Cinema
Movie Status Available
Movie Rating Very good

Split has finally ended the near 18-year rut that was M. Night Shyamalan’s filmography. While not quite on the same level as The Sixth Sense, it is by far one of Shyamalan’s best films. His previous film, The Visit, was not bad but certainly was not on the level of Signs and Unbreakable like Split. The psychology behind both the antagonists and main protagonist largely shapes the film. James McAvoy’s spot on acting of Dissociative Identity Disorder particularly nails it with him swapping between innocent and sociopathic roles throughout the movie.

It is very hard to review this film without spoilers, but it is fair to say this goes beyond a typical abduction story. A villain with multiple personalities provides a unique mix between a group of kidnappers vs. a single deranged individual. This on top of the fact that not all of McAvoy’s personalities are malicious make his inner struggle a constant factor in his victim’s struggle against him/them. The three girls, however, have very little personality. Two of them are just kind of there while the main one, the weird kid in school, actually does stuff.

While this film is labeled as “horror”, it is really more of a drama thriller. There is certainly a fear aspect to the film, what with the kidnapping and all, the film does not contain jump scares and other horror movie tropes. Split is more of about psychology and the question of what does it mean to be human. And how our experiences in life shapes who and what we are. That being said, the film has come under backlash for its portrayal of someone with a mental illness. If you are part of the group who treats being offended like the Olympics, this may not be the film for you. For those who do not have this issue, the film is quite enjoyable.

Shyamalan does manage to work on of his trademarked twists into this film, but surprisingly it is not at a crucial plot-turning point. This made a huge impact on the movie. Shyamalan has become known for each of his films having a twist. Going into a movie knowing there will be a twist by and large diminishes the twist. That omission from his usual work made Split flow smoother for a much more enjoyable film. The “twist” in this movie is more of an Easter Egg and sets Split up to have a potential sequel. Bottom line, keep up the good work Mr. Shyamalan!

February 26, 2017

Paper: Paging Through History

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Paper: Paging Through History Book Cover Paper: Paging Through History
Mark Kurlansky
W.W. Norton & Company (NY/London)
May 10, 2016

From the New York Times best-selling author of Cod and Salt, a definitive history of paper and the astonishing ways it has shaped today’s world.
Paper is one of the simplest and most essential pieces of human technology. For the past two millennia, the ability to produce it in ever more efficient ways has supported the proliferation of literacy, media, religion, education, commerce and art. It has created civilizations, fostering the fomenting of revolutions and the stabilizing of regimes. Witness history’s greatest press run, which produced 6.5 billion copies of Máo zhuˇ xí yuˇ lu, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (Zedong), or the fact that Leonardo da Vinci left behind only 15 paintings but 4000 works on paper. Now, on the cusp of “going paperless”—and amid rampant speculation about the effects of a digitally dependent society—we’ve come to a world-historic juncture to examine what paper means to civilization. Through tracing paper’s evolution, Mark Kurlansky challenges common assumptions about technology’s influence, affirming that paper is here to stay. Paper will be the history that guides us forward in the twenty-first century and illuminates our times.


Paper: Paging Through History came into my possession thanks to a Goodreads giveaway.

Paper (the stuff the book is made of, not the book itself) is an interesting little slice of history. It has been around in one form or another for thousands of years and is one of the oldest pieces of technology we use today. Most people today would probably think of a computer printer when hearing the word “paper”, but think of everything else we use it for. Bagging our groceries, wrapping presents, blowing our noses, wiping our…well, you know. It is safe to say that without paper, societies around the world would be very different.

Even going back thousands of years, the topic of paper alone is not quite enough to fill a full book and keep it interesting. Most changes and advancements to this age-old technology took place hundreds of years apart all over the world. Mark Kurlansky supplements this material by talking about topics related to paper such as alternate writing materials (papyrus, clay tablets, etc.), language, different types of documents (scrolls, books, etc.), and more. Kurlansky frequently mentions how it is society that changes technology, not the other way around. Many people think that new technology causes society to change whereas Kurlansky argues that changes in technology motivate the creation of new technologies. Both ends of that argument seem to have a bit of truth in them, but that is for you to decide.

At a glance, you would not think that a topic like paper could be interesting. It seems like something too academic to be written in an invigorating fashion. But Paper keeps itself interesting by talking about paper and related topics to show readers how this seemingly simple marvel has impacted history. It intertwines with many other aspects that allow cultures to advance, such as the widespread ability to read and share ideas.

This book examines paper from many different angles, showing everything from its development to how cultures have shaped themselves based around this (thus far) everlasting commodity. From its origins in China to the digital age in the Western world, paper continues to be a key material all over the world today. Kurlansky’s engaging writing style makes the book an attention holder, as opposed to the usual monotone of a history book. Some of his personal opinions are presented as fact so you will want to take those bits with a grain of salt. Otherwise, this is an excellent read for people interested in niche topics.

February 19, 2017

Star Wars: Ahsoka

Published Post author

Star Wars: Ahsoka Book Cover Star Wars: Ahsoka
Star Wars
E.K. Johnston
Disney Lucasfilm Press
October 11, 2016

Fans have long wondered what happened to Ahsoka after she left the Jedi Order near the end of the Clone Wars, and before she re-appeared as the mysterious Rebel operative Fulcrum in Rebels. Finally, her story will begin to be told. Following her experiences with the Jedi and the devastation of Order 66, Ahsoka is unsure she can be part of a larger whole ever again. But her desire to fight the evils of the Empire and protect those who need it will lead her right to Bail Organa, and the Rebel Alliance….


Ahsoka is a fairly popular character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. For those of you who have not watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars (spoilers ahead), here is a quick rundown. Ahsoka began as Anakin Skywalker’s apprentice early into the Clone Wars. Over the course of the war, her skills grew as the warring state of the galaxy gave her fairly unique Jedi training. Towards the end of the war, she was framed for murdering a prisoner. The Jedi more or less knew she did not do it but were going to string her up for political reasons. In the process, she was expelled from the Jedi Order. Anakin manages to prove her innocence at the last moment, but she refuses to return to the Jedi. Betrayed by her family, she struck out on her own and survived the Jedi Purge as a result. That is where the novel Ahsoka picks up.

Before this book came out, Ahsoka has already made her reappearance in the show Star Wars: Rebels. This book fills the gap between her departure in The Clone Wars and her role as a Rebel. The Clone Wars saw Ahsoka go from inexperienced girl to warrior woman. Rebels portrays her as a more experienced veteran in both combat and leadership. Ahsoka herself is portrayed well; she is smart, heroic, and strives to help the people around her. At the same time, she is scared and alone knowing that the Empire will be hunting her. By and large, this book is about her transitioning from refugee on the run to rebel striking back against the Empire.

Beyond Ahsoka’s character development, this book does not really do too much. The other characters seem like one-shots we will never see again. While developing Ahsoka seems like it was the only thing this book was really meant to do, it did make the story feel a bit dull. We have already seen her later in life during Rebels and the episodes of Rebels she pops up in seem to do more for her story than this book. For readers who are interested in Ahsoka’s character, this book is certainly worth the read. But for people who are just concerned with the overall storylines and plot points of Star Wars, Ahsoka does not really do anything. Also, this book will make very little sense if you have not watched The Clone Wars, which is something of a time consumer.

February 12, 2017

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow

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Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow Book Cover Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Gurihiru
Young Adult
Dark Horse Books
October 4, 2016

The Fire Nation is threatened by a prophecy told by the Kemurikage--mysterious figures thought only to exist in legend: "remove Zuko from the throne or the country will perish!" Unrest is brewing as the New Ozai Society prepares to make its move against the crown, and children begin to go missing from their homes under mysterious circumstances! Avatar Aang and his friends are doing everything in their power to save them--but will it be enough?!

This special, oversized edition of Smoke and Shadow features volumes 1-3 with annotations by writer Gene Luen Yang and artists Gurihiru, as well as a sketchbook section with new, behind-the-scenes material!

Collects Avatar: The Last Airbender - Smoke and Shadow Volumes 1-3.


Avatar: Smoke and Shadow picks up not too far from where the previous Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novel, The Rift, left off. For those of you unfamiliar with these, the Last Airbender graphic novels take place after the television show. The first three largely served to wrap up unanswered questions from the show but we have largely moved beyond that. A few plotlines that began in the show are still going but now we are moving into a series of new adventures. These new adventures have their roots here in the comics instead of the original television program.

This comic is entertaining to any Avatar fan but does feel like the weakest one so far. The other comics revealed the fates of characters that viewers spent three years watching. This includes the main characters that go from a group of youths to the adults seen in flashbacks in the Legend of Korra follow-up TV show and the minor characters that just were not important enough to get extra screen time on the show. That being said, if you have not read the other three graphic novels you will not understand this one. Each comic has built upon the previous stories and that continues here.

The thing that made this comic the weakest of the set was that it felt like less of an adventure. Yes there is an evil plot and the heroes must save the day, but it does not feel too at the forefront. This story introduces us to some history of the series, such as the how the Fire Nation was founded, and focuses heavily on the political aspect of Zuko’s reign as the new Fire Lord. The other three stories also had the benefit of wrapping up storylines from the TV show. With that more or less done, these new stories feel less important. It is hard to get invested in a story built up through a few hours of reading versus one built up through years of television.

We also get to see the set up of the next story, which will feature Sokka and Katara returning home. For that alone readers should not skip this one. But do not expect it to live up to The Promise, The Search, or The Rift. This review may seem kind of bland, but so was Smoke and Shadow.

February 5, 2017