Michael's Reviews > Red Harvest

Red Harvest by Joe Schreiber
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Apr 30, 2012

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Read from April 30 to May 02, 2012

I'm of the opinion that Joe Schreiber should keep writing stories based in the Star Wars universe. Based on what I've seen from both Death Troopers and now Red Harvest, he's got plenty of talent and it's kind of refreshing to traipse through an R-rated sector of the galaxy from time to time. And of course, nothing says lovin' like some zombie action. Hopefully Schreiber is allowed to continue his output, because eventually he'll hit his stride and deliver an exceptionally awesome Star Wars novel. Red Harvest shows he's working towards that.

Death Troopers, while a fun and action-filled, gore-soaked story, was hamstrung by the inclusion of two characters with guaranteed script immunity, obliterating most of the suspense from the book once they were introduced. With setting Red Harvest as a prequel to Death Troopers and putting it thousands of years in the past, during the time of the Old Republic, Schreiber discards the yoke that held down his first book and truly all bets are off.

I can just picture him sitting down, outlining the story, taking some cues from the Knights of the Old Republic video games and adding his own little elements and characters, giggling as he envisions what horrible fates are about to befall everyone. You thought the zombies from Death Troopers were bad? Just wait until you see what Darth Scabrous's malicious little concoction does when it gets its tendrils into dedicated Force users with access to lightsabers.

There are probably too many minor characters in this story--the students at the Sith Academy all tend to blend together, Roja Trace's inclusion seems like more of a nod to Liam Neeson in "Taken" than truly applicable to the plot, and several bounty hunters come, go, and come back again throughout the all-too-brief 250 pages. On the other hand, watching the Sickness spread through the Academy is enjoyable, and what's a good zombie story without a ridiculous body count? So even if most of the students (and let's face it, most of the masters as well) are there simply to get fed to the jaws of the red death, that's OK by me. You might even find yourself almost feeling sorry for Kindra towards the end. Almost.

Hestizo, though? I disagree with the reviewers here who said they didn't like her. I loved Zo. She worked perfectly as a Jedi who is not only completely out of her element but also buried up to her eyebrows in a horrible situation. This isn't a woman who is used to taking the battle to the front lines--she's a botanist who spends most of her Force time talking with and growing plants in a glorified greenhouse. When little kids dream about growing up and becoming Jedi Knights, her job isn't what they have in mind. So yes, she's going to need help, and she's fortunate that her bounty hunter captor is smart enough to realize that she's a valuable ally.

There's nothing quite like a good villain, and Scabrous certainly hits all the right notes when it comes to a Sith: he values personal power above all else, has no qualms about torturing his own students to death in pursuit of his goals, and is even marginally intelligent enough to take steps to slow his own contamination until he can lay his hands on the final ingredient. One only wishes his final undoing could have been worse.

So Red Harvest is a lot of fun. It's fast-paced, easy-to-read, contains plenty that will gross out the weaker-stomached among us, and it left me wanting more. That's my main gripe about Red Harvest: at just over 250 pages, it's entirely too short especially when you consider all the extra Expanded Universe trivia and excerpts that pad nearly another 100 pages into the count to make it fit as a hardback. Really, I appreciate the history lesson and all, but if you're going to deliver a 350-page hardback, is it too much to ask that at least 90% of those pages be devoted to the story advertised on the cover? I'm sure Schreiber had nothing to do with that decision, so I'm not holding it against him, but it's still irritating and resulted in a four-star book receiving a three-star review.

In the end, I just want Schreiber to keep writing Star Wars horror novels. They don't have to be zombie-themed (though I certainly don't mind this at all), they just need to be fun. He's proven he can do fun, so I'm more than willing to keep reading his work.
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