Recommendations

Reading About Wonder Woman

Next Friday Wonder Woman makes her long anticipated big screen debut. Many people know about Wonder Woman – she’s a goddess, she’s a feminist, she’s powerful, – but the popular image of her ends there. While she’s been a comic book character for 75 years, the fact of the matter is that very few people have actually read all, or even most, of her comics. Let alone her numerous TV appearances (both live action and cartoon).

So, where is a person to turn if they want to know more about Wonder Woman? Especially if they want to learn more about the context in which she was created? The answer is, of course, a book.

There are two books about Wonder Woman and her origins that were written somewhat recently. Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World’s Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley and The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. Which one you should read depends on how in depth you want to go.

Hanley’s book is a quick read that glosses over some of the details and attempts to sensationalize others. The book is just 300 pages and the writing is breezy and easy to read. If you just want a taste of Wonder Woman’s history and development as a character, this book is the one for you.

If, instead, you’d rather get a detailed look at every possible influence behind the creator of Wonder Woman, then Lepore’s book is the one you should read. The book starts off with the parents of Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and traces the strands of influence from the Suffragette movement to Wonder Woman. Everything about Wonder Woman is accounted for. From her clothes to her weapons to her all female society.

Can’t decide which of these books to read? You could always do what I did and read both. It’s interesting to read two books on the same topic and see where they agree and where they diverge. While there is a lot of overlap in information between the two books, the author’s distinctive voices makes reading them together anything but boring.

You can find these books and more at your local library.

Recommendations

Recommended Star Wars Novels for Adults

There’s almost an overwhelming number of books available with the Star Wars logo emblazoned on the cover, as such, it can be intimidating to try and start reading them. A new reader may ask questions like: Where do I begin? Do I have to go in order? Is there an order to go in? Do I have to read all of these to get the backstory for the movies?

To answer the first few questions, just start somewhere, anywhere you like. There’s no particular order for most of the books, and reading them out of order doesn’t really affect the enjoyment of the book. If a book looks interesting, read it. Don’t worry about doing it “right”. Another strategy is to find an author or character you like and follow them. Whatever you do, have fun and read lots.

Original Trilogy

There really aren’t that many books that cover the period of the Original Trilogy, and of the ones out there, I’ve only read maybe three or four. So there is only one book set during the Original Trilogy that I can recommend, and that is:

Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn
5 stars out of 5
This is a fun heist story that’s just the right blend of Ocean’s Eleven and Star Wars. A highly recommended stand-alone book.

Prequel Trilogy

These books were all written before Disney acquired LucasFilm and are set during the events of the Prequel Trilogy. Kenobi is technically set after Episode III, but it comes right on the heels of Revenge of the Sith so I included it with the other Prequel Trilogy books.

The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster
5 stars out of 5
This book is a fun adventure story set shortly before the events of Attack of the Clones and actually sets up that movie quite well while remaining a stand-alone book. This book gives the reader a window into the lives of the Jedi before the pressures of the Clone Wars take over the galaxy. If you like Anakin or Obi-Wan it is a must-read.

Outbound Flight by Timothy Zhan
4 stars out of 5
Timothy Zahn finally gives us the backstory to the Katana fleet. This book gives readers the answers to all that transpired when the fleet vanished. It’s a good story with interesting characters and the usual Zahn flare. However, this book is best read in conjunction with the Thrawn Trilogy, otherwise the Katana fleet thing doesn’t really hold much interest.

Kenobi by John Jackson Miller
4 stars out of 5
John Jackson Miller shows himself to be a capable novelist with this offering. Taking place just after the events of Episode III Obi-Wan must navigate life on Tatooine while keeping a low profile. Part western, part Star Wars this book is great for any Obi-Wan fan.

I am going to preface the next section by saying that the following three books do not deserve the rating I gave them. The writing is fanfictiony in the worst way and the dialogue is laughable. Melodrama abounds and the plots are contrived at best. That being said, I did enjoy reading these books immensely and rated them on my enjoyment, not their objective quality. If I were to give them a fairer rating it would probably be around two stars each. Still, I enjoyed reading them and have enjoyed rereading them, so if fanfiction style writing is your thing you may enjoy them as well.


Wild Space by Karen Miller
4 stars out of 5
This is literally the only EU novel that features Bail Organa as a primary character and in this book he is in fine form. Bail and Obi-Wan go on a secret mission together and we finally get to see the man who raised Leia in action; and he is everything I could ask for. Bail has the sass and spunk that we see in Leia as well as being likable and shrewd. His character and Obi-Wan have some great moments together and it also fills in the some gaps in Episode III, like why Obi-Wan and Yoda trusted Bail enough to let him raise one of the twins. This is a fun book and is worth looking into if you like Bail or Obi-Wan.

Stealth and Siege by Karen Miller
4 stars out of 5
I’ll recommend these books together because they are really one story telling one continuous plot. Anakin and Obi-Wan go undercover in Separatist space. While this book is light on plot it give the reader a lot of interaction between Obi-Wan and Anakin. If you like those two characters and their relationship then these books are for you.

LegendsEU

These are books that continue the story of Star Wars after Return of the Jedi before LucasFilm was bought by Disney. They continue to tell the story of Luke, Leia, Han and the rest of the galaxy in a somewhat cohesive way continuing the adventure for many years.

The Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zhan
5 stars out of 5
I’m going to go ahead and rate these as a set because the story is continuous throughout the three novels. Each book is a five star book for me. These books could easily be Episodes 7, 8, and 9. They capture the feel of Star Wars and suck you into the continued struggles of Leia, Luke and Han. These books also introduce the characters of Talon Karrde, Mara Jade, Grand Admiral Thrawn, Gilad Pellaeon, Winter and many, many other characters that have become staples in the EU. Zahn set the EU into motion with these books and should be on everyone’s Star Wars reading list.

Tatooine Ghost by Troy Denning
3 stars out of 5
While this book may not be as highly rated as some of the others on this list it is still a good read. This book tackles Leia and her relationship with Anakin, her perceptions of Vader, and her connections to the Skywalker family. If Leia is a character you like then this book might be just what you’re looking for.

Rogue Squadron by Micheal Stackpole
4 stars out of 5

This book is the continuing adventures of the Rebellion against the Empire. The story focuses around Wedge Antilles and the X-Wing pilots as they attempt to drive the Empire out of all corners of the galaxy. This book is entertaining and well written and a treat to read. This book is especially recommended for Wedge Antilles fans and fans of pilots.

NewEU

These are books published after Disney bought LucasFilm, and therefore tie into the new movies and have their own continuity that is different from all the books published before the Disney acquisition. I haven’t read many of the new books yet, so I only have one real recommendation in this category.

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
4 stars out of 5
If you are a fan of the show Rebels then you need to read this book. This book gives you the story of how Kanan and Hera first meet and how they decide to work together. It’s a fun story and a great plot and should be read by anyone who likes the characters of Hera and Kanan.

All these and more can be found at your local library!

Recommendations

Recommended Star Wars Comics

Yesterday I posted a review for Shattered Empire the comic book that helps bridge the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. I gave that particular book 2.5 out of 5 stars, so it’s not necessarily recommended. The Star Wars comics I do recommend are listed below.

Recommended Star Wars graphic novels:

Star Wars: Blood Ties – Jango and Boba Fett and Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett is Dead These books are both great stories about the Fett family. I highly recommend them. The only caveat is that these books tie into the LegendsEU not the NewEU, so they may not jive well with more recent material. I give both of these books 5 stars.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison  This book has a great little mystery and gives the reader a chilling look at a secret Clone Wars project. The story is imaginative and Darth Vader is spot on. I give this book 3 stars.

Star Wars: Kanan – the Last Padawan I really liked this book, however, I think it’s a better read after watching the first season of Star Wars: Rebels. I give this book 3 stars.

Star Wars: Princess Leia This book was a nice, new look at the role Leia played in the Rebellion. The movies are really Luke’s story, but this comic explores Leia and actually fills in some gaps in her story quite well. I give this book 3 stars.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Volume 2: Hard Targets (Volume 1, however, is not recommend) This is a great James Bond type story where an Imperial agent is trying to solve cases for the Empire. This is set before A New Hope and has a great little storyline. Again, this is a LegendsEU story, so not everything will mesh with the NewEU. I give this book 4 stars.

Star Wars by Brian Wood. This is a LegendsEU story that picks up directly after A New Hope. It continues the story and has some really great artwork. The first six covers are particularly amazing. Check this one out. I give this book 4 stars.

Star Wars: Darth Maul – Death Sentence This story is a great one, it gives the reader a lot of story in one small volume. Darth Maul is great here, so if you like Maul, look into this. I give this book 4 stars.

The Star Wars by J. A. Rinzler. This is a version of Star Wars: A New Hope based off some early scripts. It’s a fun AU (Alternate Universe) telling of Star Wars and has some really great art. If you want to see a fresh take on an old story, this is a great read. I give this book 3 stars.

I think one of the things that appeals to me about Star Wars comics, more so than other comics or graphic novels, is that they are generally short stories. Especially under the Dark Horse years, almost every single one was a four to seven issue run of comics that were then collected into a trade paperback. It was easy to follow the storylines and a person didn’t have to know 75+ years of mythology before picking up a book. It made getting into comics a lot less intimidating and introduced me to some great authors and artists. If you haven’t read a Star Wars comic yet, give one a try.

Find these and more at your local library.