If I got my hands on some Bota, I’d probably just use it to fix up my wife’s lungs. Yeah, that’s what I’d do…
Cover Art By: Dave Seeley
Written By: Steve Perry & Michael Reaves
“Jedi refer to the ‘light side’ and the ‘dark side,’ but really, these are only words, and the Force is beyond words. It is not evil, just as it isn’t good–it simply is what it is.” – Jedi Knight Barriss Offee
I’ve never been able to ride roller coasters. I’m not even talking about the big ones st Six Flags Great America, I’m talking about the tiny ones found at a Santa’s Village (or insert any small local amusement park in your area). My motion sickness is so bad that I can’t even take the little train type roller coasters that get a little high and don’t have steep drops to speak of. They travel at more of a flat level, with a few highs, but no true terrifying lows. Still, that minimal amount of motion is too much for my equilibrium deficient brain to handle. Reading Medstar: Jedi Healer I was reminded of those little train roller coasters. There were some highs in Steve Perry and Michael Reaves’ novel, but no terrifying lows. Instead there were moments when the novel flattened out and wasn’t at its best, but it was quickly rescued by some character moment or another that raised it back up to a new height.
The characters are the key to Medstar: Jedi Healer. The novel that Mr. Reaves and Mr. Perry have constructed is not so concerned with plot and story as it is with developing characters and forming relationships among them. That means that Star Wars fans who are only interested in the big events, or stories that come across as galaxy impacting might be let down by Medstar: Jedi Healer. But, to those fans I say I am of the opposite mind. I love good characters, and I love when a novel takes the time to flesh out its characters so that they are fully realized beings who impact the universe in great ways.
I don’t make the impact statement lightly. Just take a gander at the quote I supplied from Barriss Offee. That one simple quote elevates her greatly in my opinion. Yes, she still displays some of the Jedi superiority throughout Medstar: Jedi Healer that I so loathe. But, that quote shows a progression in her character that elevates her among most Jedi in the Rise of the Empire Era. Barriss is willing to take a deeper look at the Force and see how it relates to her and her actions. By doing so she feels more alive than most Jedi, certainly moreso than characters like Yoda who simply tout the rote Jedi dogma over and over again.
Barriss Offee is just one example of the strong characterization found in Medstar: Jedi Healer. Jos Vondar moves beyond a M*A*S*H clone and becomes more of a real person through the reliance he shows on close relationships. Den Dhur shows more shades of personality as he struggles with being a reporter, loving the spotlight, longing for home, and realizing that there is a quality Sullustan beneath the rough facade he presents. Then there is the character of I-5YQ, or I-Five, who shows how droids can be so much more than just droids. His arc is fascinating to read, and as his character grows I felt special to be along for such a journey. That type of investment in a character, or characters in this case, does not come easily and is a definite sign of a well written novel.
There were some low points in Medstar: Jedi Healer. Luckily they weren’t many, and they were quickly brushed aside for the higher character moments. But, most of the stuff with the Black Sun operative Kaird struck me as unneeded and simply around because the authors have a fascination with Black Sun. There are a few moments in the writing where the callbacks to events in the film, such as a Wookiee ripping off I-Five’s arm after he beats said Wookiee in Dejarik, become cumbersome and stuck out like square pegs being shoved into round holes. Finally there is the plight of Klo Merit, or should I say all of his character up until his final moments. I loved the resolution of his character, but that was mainly because of how it tied into Jos and his development. When it came to Klo himself I felt that his handling as a dual spy and as a character in general was far too rough around the edges and clunky. I ended up not caring much for the spy elements of Medstar: Jedi Healer and that meant I didn’t care much for Klo as a character or all the events that swirled around his character.
It may have had some flat moments, but the highs that Medstar: Jedi Healer offered were very enjoyable. Getting to know the characters was a highlight of my recent Star Wars reading. Getting to spend time with a character like Barriss Offee offsets all of the flat moments found in the novel. Thanks to her thought process’s and the way she handles herself she has quickly vaulted to near the top of my favorite characters list. I enjoyed getting to know the characters in Medstar: Jedi Healer, their depth as characters made the story moments matter that much more. Beyond that I became invested in the characters of this novel so much that I care about them beyond just this novel and that is always a great thing in Star Wars lore. Those who are into characters, and the growth that the written form can give to characters, should find a lot to love about Medstar: Jedi Healer. I know that I did, and that’s why flaws and all I have no qualms recommending Medstar: Jedi Healer to any Star Wars fan.