More like The Approaching Boredom!
Cover Art By: Steven D. Anderson
Written By: Alan Dean Foster
It’s never a good sign when each and every page of a novel is a struggle to get through. A story needs to be interesting, it doesn’t need to be action packed, but it needs to be interesting. I can, and do, get great enjoyment out of action packed novels, as well as philosophical works designed to stimulate the mind. The key word is enjoyment, and while even the most banal of text can appeal to me, the banality needs to lead somewhere. In The Approaching Storm the banal never leads to anything other than more uninteresting text and maddeningly dull prose.
One area where I will give Alan Dean Foster plenty of props is his ability to get inside the head of Anakin Skywalker. For three fourths of The Approaching Storm Foster cultivates a fully developed Anakin. He doesn’t feel like a simple vessel for the Force, he feels like a real person with real fears and desires. Unfortunately even in that regard Foster undoes his own work by hammering home the same points over and over again. A key reason why The Approaching Storm is such a boring read is because of Foster’s tendency to repeat himself. Whether it is with Anakin or some other character Foster repeats the same opinions or thoughts ad nauseum.
There are also a few instances where Foster plays free and loose with his characterization. In one breath Luminara Unduli tells Kyakhta and Bulgan that they shouldn’t look down on Tooqui. In the next she proclaims Tooqui a primitive being who would benefit from education and cultural change as supplied by the Republic. It’s an odd tact for Foster to take and it creates a conundrum within Luminara that isn’t earned and comes across as sloppy writing more than anything else.
As far as brain food to chew on, there are two passages in particular that I find troubling.
1) “The proof of the truth lies in the success of the system. That, no one can doubt.”
Luminara says this in response to a discussion concerning Anakin and whether late Force sensitives should be admitted into the Jedi Order. This ignores the history of the Jedi, one that is full of older Force sensitives being brought into the order and excelling. It also ignores the current state of the Jedi Order, an order that is fracturing and falling part because of its adherence to dogmatic ways.
2) …He wants me, or someone else, to make everything right, from his mother’s condition to the condition of the galaxy.”
Obi-Wan Kenobi says this about Anakin, and hold on a second there pops, I have a ton o’ problems with that line of thinking. In your view in order for Anakin to grow up he needs to let go of the fact that his mother is still living as a slave. Not only that, he needs to stop wishing for someone to save his mother. Never mind the fact that he’s obeying the idiotic Jedi restrictions about family, he can’t even wish for his mother to find freedom. That sounds like a group I want to join, screw your mother if she’s a slave, grow up and get over it already! And people wonder why I don’t like the Jedi!
I managed to power through The Approaching Storm and finish it rather quickly. Despite its interminably dry nature I kept on trucking because I wanted to be done with it. That is not the verbiage you want to hear about any novel, but it is the truth about The Approaching Storm. It’s an insignificant novel, a boring novel, and one that leaves you rushing to get to the finish just so that you can be done. It’s not the world’s worst novel, but The Approaching Storm is a novel you can easily avoid and I recommend you do your best to avoid it.