Black Star Renegades

After reading Melanie Rawn's The Mageborn Traitor and Stephen R. Donaldson's Seventh Decimate (reviews for both books coming up in the near future), two decidedly subpar novels that proved to be major disappointments, I needed something fun and light to get back into the swing of things. And Michael Moreci's Black Star Renegades appeared to be just what I needed. The advance reading copy of this title went to the top of the pile when it showed up in my mailbox and the timing was just about right to give it a shot.

True, most talented comic books writers rarely make the transition to good novelists. Even an all-star like Chris Claremont failed to come up with quality novel-length material when the opportunity presented itself. Hence, I didn't have high expectations when I set out to read Black Star Renegades. Even though this work was no spoof, I was expecting Moreci's ode to Star Wars to be akin to Steven Erikson's homage to Star Trek in his Willful Child series. Well, it wasn't. . .

Black Star Renegades turned out to be nothing more than an ensemble of recycled tropes that read like Star Wars fanfiction. And a poor one at that. There is no originality throughout this book. This reimagining of Star Wars features absolutely nothing of the vision and creativity which made the original trilogy so amazing. All it does is take clichés and plot points from every single Star Wars film to date, subvert a couple just so it can't be called plagiarism, and come up with an uninspired and poorly executed work that is totally forgettable. Truth be told, I can't quite believe I actually reached the end of this book. It's so stale and boring that I wanted to quit every step of the way.

Here's the blurb:

In the tradition of Star Wars, a galaxy-hopping space adventure about a galactic kingdom bent on control and the young misfit who must find the power within before it’s too late.

Cade Sura holds the future of the galaxy in his hands: the ultimate weapon that will bring total peace. He didn’t ask for it, he doesn’t want it, and there’s no worse choice to wield it in all of space, but if he doesn’t, everyone’s totally screwed. The evil Praxis kingdom is on the cusp of having every star system under its control, and if that happens, there’ll be no contesting their cruel reign. Especially if its fanatical overlord, Ga Halle, manages to capture Cade and snag the all-powerful weapon for herself.

Cade can’t hide from Praxis, and he can’t run from the destiny that’s been shoved into his hands. So he only has one option:

He has to fight.

Cade’s not going to let destiny send him on a suicide run, though. With some help from his friends—rebels and scoundrels alike—Cade’s going to use this weapon to chart a new destiny for the galaxy, and for himself.

He just has to do so before everyone around him discovers that he’s a complete and total fraud.

Blending the space operatics of Star Wars and the swagger of Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Star Renegades is a galaxy-hopping adventure that blasts its way from seedy spacer bars to sacred temples guarded by deadly creatures—all with a cast of misfit characters who have nowhere to go and nothing to lose.

Black Star Renegades is an unapologetic love letter to Star Wars. That goes without saying. Problem is, unlike Steven Erikson's Star Trek's parody, Moreci's novel is little more than a cheap imitation of the original saga that reads like a crappy B-movie direct-to-DVD release. I'm persuaded that this was meant to be some sort of mash-up of genre tropes. But in the end, it's a lackluster work filled to the brim with ideas and concepts that we've seen a thousand times before. A superior author would have managed to effortlessly use readers' preconceptions against them and surprise them at every turn. Sadly, Michael Moreci did not have what it takes to do that. Ultimately, Black Star Renegades is a clichéd and predictable scifi adventure yarn that fails to deliver on basically every front. You have your do-gooder Jedi order, an evil galactic empire bent on galaxy-wide domination, weapons that are not lightsabers but close enough, a weapon of mass destruction that can destroy worlds, villains that used to be good guys, and a panoply of other Star Wars tropes.

The characterization is by far the weakest aspect of this novel. With the worldbuilding so trite and unimaginative, the protagonists could have gone a long way into making this a more enjoyable reading experience. Unfortunately, it wasn't meant to be. For the most part, the characters are little more than generic cardboard cutouts. Even worse, there is no character development to speak of. The main protagonist, Cade Sura, is an annoying dumbass from the get-go and the fate of the galaxy couldn't be in worst hands. For its part, the supporting cast does little to help elevate this tale to another level. Sure, it's not a carbon copy of the original Star Wars movies. Instead of a whimpy protocol droid like C-3PO, you have a kick-ass combat drone. Instead of Obi-Wan Kenobi, you have a younger and more badass teacher for Cade and Tristan. Instead of the Emperor, you have a mad queen. Yada yada yada. But what it boils down to is that both the plot and the cast are made of recycled ideas and storylines that we have seen ad nauseam. There is nothing new or fresh about Black Star Renegades. Nothing at all.

The quality of the prose was better than I exected. However, the dialogue reads exactly like what you'd expect out of a comic book. With some "GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH", "ARRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH", and "WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO" throughout. Moreover, it is plagued by juvenile back-and-forth between the protagonists. Some reviews claim that it's more of a YA science fiction adventure work, but I doubt that a younger audience would enjoy it more than I did. It's just an overdone and stereotyped sort of tale which has little appeal, all things considered. And though the quality of the writing is better than fanfiction, it nevertheless reads like fanfic.

The pace is never really an issue. Moreci keeps the story moving at a good clip. Unfortunately, with such a boring and predictable plot, a good rhythm simply cannot save this novel. You can see the endgame coming from a mile away, so the ending doesn't pack any punch whatsoever. The author is unable to make you grow attached to any of the characters, so you couldn't care less about the fate of any of them by the time you reach the last page. Alas, unlike all the protagonists from Star Wars: Rogue One, whose only redeeming quality is that they're all dead and can't bother us anymore, most of the cast from Black Star Renegades will live to see another day.

There is a sequel in the works. Will I read it? To be honest, I'd rather undergo a prostate exam than read that second installment. Yes. I kid you not.

There are so many quality science fiction/space opera novels out there. Read those and don't waste your time with Black Star Renegades.

The final verdict: 3/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

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4 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

So did you like it? It's no clear from your review.;)

Anonymous said...

Woah! I think this is the lowest score you ever gave a book!

Joe Berne said...

Pat, stop beating around the bush and tell us how you really feel.

Joe Berne said...

Pat, please stop beating around the bush and tell us how you really feel.