Last summer, I went to San Diego Comic Con, and while I was roaming the huge convention center, I noticed there was a booth close to the Star Wars section that was offering books. Ever the avid book reader and always the largest Star Wars fan, I went to investigate what they were selling.
Displayed on the table were copies of Battlefront II: Inferno Squad. Since I follow gaming news, I had of course heard of the latest Battlefront game EA was dumping on our doorsteps. The first Battlefront game they had churned out was a total disaster. I did not have high hopes for Battlefront II, even though they were actually including a story campaign for the game this time around.
Still, it wouldn’t be fair to this book, a prequel to Battlefront II, to extend my doubts about the game onto it. After a small moment staring at the cover, I purchased Inferno Squad and took it home.
Since I have a humongous reading list (books awaiting my perusal), I have not gotten around to finishing up Inferno Squad until now. So here is my review for the book. I will not bring up the events that happened in the video game (even though it was a sucky game) in my critique of the book.
It should be noted that a lot of what goes on in my review and in the book itself involves Star Wars stuff. If you don’t know Star Wars, you may feel a tad out of the loop.
Inferno Squad was…interesting?
The book tells of the events that occur immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star. Whereas most Star Wars stories revolve around the heroes of the Jedi, Rebellion, or Resistance, Inferno Squad is centered on an elite team of Imperials who are tasked with undermining the Rebellion.
If that initial premise does not pique your interest, you, sir, are no Star Wars fan.
The main character is the leader of Inferno Squad, this team of bad-asses from the Empire. She’s called Iden Versio, and she’s the daughter of one of the head honchos of the Empire. Even though she totally believes in everything the Empire stands for, author Christie Golden makes her very likable. She’s driven by a desire to prove herself, to the world and to her father. She’s working for the bad guys, but she comes across as noble.
She and her squad are given an undercover assignment. They are sent to infiltrate a radical group of rebels known as the Dreamers. Once secure in their positions, they are to dismantle the Dreamers from the inside out. The real struggle occurs when Iden and her team start feeling sympathetic toward the people they are trying to destroy.
Iden’s squad all sound like diverse people, but they feel like cookie-cutter characters. Once you know their motivations, that’s kind of…it. There’s this one guy who’s the “nice guy” of the Squad. He has a knack for dealing with machinery. He’s the one who feels the most pity for the Dreamers, but nothing ever occurs that would put him on the spot in that regard. He never has to make a tough decision about his chosen morals. His character ends up feeling like a bit of a cop out.
Each chapter of Inferno Squad is engaging, even for a non-Star Wars fan. You know that feeling you can get when you’re reading, the feeling that a chapter is just dragging on? (Hey now, I’m a book lover too, but I can experience boredom and disinterest when reading a book just like anyone.) That never happened to me while I was reading Inferno Squad. Each page I turned actively led me on to the next one. I wanted to know what happened next, and Golden’s writing style helped me want to want to know what happened next.
Unfortunately, while each chapter separately holds up, the entire story ends up feeling a bit weak. Huge changes happen in Iden’s life when she agrees to infiltrate the Dreamers. The experience should change her. But since every chapter gears you to read on ahead, there’s never really a moment where you’re allowed to let events sink in. Neither Iden nor the reader are given the space to process the changes that have occurred.
However, despite the complaints I have made, Inferno Squad still makes for a good read.
I rate Battlefront II: Inferno Squad a Borrow-Once-From-A-Friend-And-Actually-Read-All-The-Way-Through-Before-Giving-It-Back.