"Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi" (6.5 out of 10). Written by Kevin Hearne. 

Kevin Hearne's new "Star Wars" book, "Heir to the Jedi" picks up shortly after "A New Hope" leaves off and gives us a solo adventure starring Luke Skywalker. It's told in the first person, which is only the second time a "Star Wars" book has done so, and the first time with Luke.

Through the course of the book, Luke is sent on a variety of side-missions leading up to an extraction operation. The rebellion has need of an Imperial intelligence agent and Luke Skywalker seems to be the man for the job. He's accompanied by Artoo and a capable female named Nakari Kelen whose fate is sadly predictable.

I'll be honest, my expectations for this book were incredibly low. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to warm into the idea of reading Luke Skywalker's thoughts in his own words, but Hearne manages to win me over on that front by the time the novel is finished. The story works on a functional level, and it has elements of movies like "Aliens," and something like an "Ocean's 11" sort of planning phase that leads into something like "Escape From Alcatraz." Meanwhile, we're given hints about what else is going on in the galaxy and with the Rebellion. But since there's no direct link to them or the Empire because Luke is out on his own and pursued mainly by bounty hunters (or weird aliens) we're not given that much information about the rest of the galaxy.

I was happy to see Major Bren Derlin, played in the films by John Ratzenberger, get a chance to shine in a supporting part as a Rebel operative. And I quite enjoyed the climax of the book, dealing with the snipers and bounty hunters. It's probably some of the best stuff in the book.

The tone of the book matches what you'd expect from "A New Hope" era Luke Skywalker. He's growing older and turning more into the man we'll know in "The Empire Strikes Back," but he's still very much a kid from the country and your mileage on an entire book in his head will vary.

For me, the best parts of the book had to do with Luke learning about his father. Anakin Skywalker was a seminal figure during the Clone Wars and watching Luke discover things about him. Seeing him put together the pieces of his father's past and the gaps in his Jedi training were easily the most worthwhile parts. They resonated with me in a way I would have guessed, but I didn't expect such strong moments in this book.

In the final accounting, it's a book that I feel mildly ambivalent about. It was good enough, but never once crossed that threshold to great. It would definitely be a great entry point to someone who hasn't read a whole lot of "Star Wars" books. Which, I suppose, is ultimately the point. I would mark it as the weakest so far of the three books released in the new canon (four if you count the upcoming "Lords of the Sith"), and am grateful. If this is the least of them, we're getting some great "Star Wars."

Overall it's a 6.5 out of 10. It's well enough to read once, but it feels like it's going to be pretty forgettable. In fact, I had to thumb through the novel a couple of times just to remember what it was about while I was writing this review because I'd found that not much of it stuck with me.

"Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi" comes out tomorrow.

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Tags: books , star wars , luke skywalker