Force Friday: Droids, Syndicates, and Worms REVIEWING Most Wanted

Welcome to the first Force Friday of the year here at The Real World According To Sam! Today we are talking about a relatively recent canon novel in the Star Wars expanded universe.

Most Wanted

Author: Rae Carson
Genre: YA Sci-Fi 
Year: 2018

Star Wars Most Wanted


Set before the events of Solo: A Star Wars Story! Han and Qi'ra don't have a lot in common other than not having a lot. They're street kids on the industrial planet Corellia, doing whatever it takes to get by, dreaming of something more. They each jump at a chance to prove themselves in the perilous world of Corellia's criminal underbelly, only to discover they are on the same mission for the same unscrupulous boss. When the job goes disastrously wrong, Han and Qi'ra are on the run -- from pirates, a droid crime syndicate, the Empire, and their boss -- and will have to learn to trust each other if they are going to survive. 


Honestly, this one is a bit of a challenge, and very different from how I usually do reviews...and experience books. Why? I experienced this as an audiobook. I have never listened to an audiobook for a book I have never read. This time, I didn't have much choice. If I wanted to keep with the Star Wars canon timeline I was using, this is the only version that my public library had. So...I gave it a shot. This may greatly impact my potential enjoyment of the story and how I experienced it. 

For starters, I found out that I'm not the biggest fan of audiobooks and only certain extra details kept me on track with listening to this. Let me list out a few things: 
  1. I don't like having my reading speed dictated to me by a recording 
  2. Sound effects make listening easier
  3. Having only one person do all the voices for every character bothers me (particularly in 3rd person perspective)
  4. I need particular circumstances set up to pay full attention to an audiobook
To expand: 

1. I remember back when I was in school (particularly middle school), we sometimes had to read along to a sound recording in English class. We had a book in front of us and the teachers would play the recording and we would be expected to follow along. These days were some of my least favorite class days. You had to stay with the recording in order to do the discussions appropriately and I always found the recordings slow. I could read a whole paragraph before they got through a sentence or two. I hated it then and I lightly tolerate it now only when I have to. The good thing about my library and this audiobook? I could adjust the speed of the recording. I had it running at 1.5x speed, so I could still hear the sound effects well. This was better than class recording days, but it still felt like a hinderance. 

2. This particular audiobook has sound effects that are specific to the Star Wars universe. There is a klaxon sound similar to what you would hear in the movies or tv shows. The book also features some familiar music, which I thought was really nice. It provided background to the words in a way that actually helped me fully imagine what was happening. I liked that a lot. Hearing a standard audiobook without sound effects or a Star Wars book without familiar sounds like this seems extra boring to me now. 

3. The narrator of this book is Saskia Maarleveld. She is from New Zealand and she doesn't do a bad job, so don't get me wrong. My problem is straightforward. When I read, particularly about characters I've seen in movies, I hear those voices. Han Solo sounds either like Harrison Ford or Alden Ehrenreich, depending on when it occurs in the timeline. Han Solo does not sound like a woman doing an impression of a guy doing his idea of Han Solo. I didn't inherently mind her as Qi'ra, because I've seen animated shows with alternate voice actors, so it feels more believable. She's still not Emilia Clarke, but she's at least a girl with a girl's voice. The voice of the Rodian in this book, Tsuulo, was also fine, but I had a lot of difficulty listening to every voice being done by one person. The droids also sound fine. This didn't feel like the best book to hear in an audio format, but the narrator isn't necessarily to blame for that. I think she did a decent enough job with what was on the page.

4. I have a hard time sitting and just listening to talk. When I sat in class lectures, I was often doodling squiggles or cross hatch lines, unless there was a presentation to see or the professor was very engaging. In generic lectures (ex: required introductory courses), I just have a hard time. I initially tried sitting in the dark, so I had no visual distractions, and I dozed off pretty quick. I couldn't just sit and listen to the book. To experience this book, I had to find casual tasks to keep my hands occupied, while my mind imagined the story. Therefore, I spent several hours building and strip mining some cobblestone on Minecraft while listening to the story. I distinctly recall what I was building, so I recall the book very well as I remember what I was building or where I was mining. Without having done this, I'm not sure I would have been able to get through the book. If my hands and eyes aren't distracted on a very simple, almost mindless task so I can keep focused on the recording, I easily zone out. 

With all those things out of the way, how was the actual story? It was okay. The basic idea is that Han and Qi'ra are part of a criminal syndicate known as the White Worms. This syndicate is led by Lady Proxima, a grindalid, who is featured in the film, Solo: A Star Wars Story. Grindalids are worm-like creatures with sensitivity to light. Han and Qi'ra are not friends. They are actually rivals for a higher position in the syndicate. To earn the position, Lady Proxima gives them separate tasks to prove their worth. Han and Qi'ra go off on their separate tasks, but eventually find out that they're actually trying to do the same job. They get into a lot of trouble and have to find out how to stay ahead of everyone, stay alive, and improve their status in the galaxy. Both have dreams of doing something better with their lives and eventually they become friends. They have different strengths, skills, and weaknesses, as with any team-up situation. 

Is the story interesting? A bit, yeah. I thought it was interesting seeing how different crime syndicates interact with each other and handle deals. I enjoyed some of the side characters, like Tsuulo and the Droid Gotra representative, TD-H4. The presence of other crime syndicates like the Kaldana and Droid Gotra was fun. I also liked seeing the hierarchy of the White Worms. Beyond that, the story is pretty standard and not very thrilling. Our heroes get chased, they have average dreams of a better life in the stars, and they get shot at a lot. There was nothing particularly unique about the story. It takes place in the Star Wars universe, but it misses a lot of the magic the universe holds. The characters themselves aren't bad, their situations are just generic fare by now. Han isn't badly written to me, but the eventual relationship in the movie between him and Qi'ra doesn't seem too fleshed out here. I honestly expected them to have a bit more history and more connection based on the movie than what this book provided. Neither character is bad, but this book didn't have me buying into their relationship. The movies do a much better job at portraying general emotional attachment in that regard. 

This is a YA Star Wars novel, but it certainly isn't the best. Big fans of the Star Wars universe probably won't be too into this one. It is rather flat and uninspired. I enjoyed it while I was playing Minecraft, but it would probably have been more interesting as a short film or a very short animated series. The events of the story feel very episodic in nature. I would have rather seen it than heard it. I doubt that would improve had I actually read it. There are better YA novels in this universe (ex: Ahsoka), so I can't say I recommend this one. I give Star Wars: Most Wanted a Lone Star rating of . It was generically enjoyable and I didn't mind experiencing it once, but I definitely won't be rushing to re-read it or recommending it over novels like Tarkin or Ahsoka

Would I listen to another audiobook? Yes, under the same conditions mentioned before (while playing Minecraft or another game with similar aspects), because...I already did it a second time, with a book we will discuss this coming Monday. 

Star Wars Canon 
      Reading Order

 Queen's Peril
✅ Ahsoka
✅ Most Wanted

Thanks for joining me for today's Force Friday here at The Real World According to Sam, where I bring the books to your computer screen and even put in my two cents about them! 

See you at the next review!