Review: Phasma (Star Wars) by Delilah S. Dawson [audiobook]

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My original PHASMA (STAR WARS) audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

After writing the Star Wars short story, The Perfect Weapon, Delilah S. Dawson returns to a galaxy far, far away with the full-length novel, Phasma. I’m a fan of Dawson’s work, and it’s great fun seeing her playing around in one of my favorite cinematic universes and helping to build and expand upon the new canon of expanded universe tie-ins centering around the trilogy of Star Wars films.

After being captured and taken aboard an Imperial ship, Resistance fighter Vi Moradi engages in a battle of wits with a crimson-clad Stormtrooper named Cardinal. He wants information on Captain Phasma, which Moradi possesses, and as the interrogation unfolds she shares with him the true story of Phasma – who she is, where she’s from, and the lengths she will go to in order to survive.

Dawson does a superb job painting a vivid portrait of Phasma, giving this character an engaging history and motivation. While the filmic depiction of Phasma in The Force Awakens was fairly forgettable, her novelized origin story is far from it. Dawson takes us around the apocalyptic world of Parnassos and the Scyre clan Phasma has sworn allegiance to. What emerges from this, in the wake of a crashed Imperial ship and the rescue of its crew by Phasma and her fighters, is a story of survival in a harsh desert world where life is short and brutal, and survival and murder often go hand in hand. Dawson puts a decidedly Mad Max-style spin on her Star Wars story here, and it’s a welcome change of pace.

My only wish/hope is that we get to see more of Vi Moradi in the future. Although Moradi is our gateway into Phasma’s history, there’s not a lot of room for her to shine elsewhere with so much of the narrative space occupying a time ten years in the past. Phasma becomes wonderfully fleshed out and whole, and is certainly a more engaging character here than in her (thus far) single movie appearance, but I really wanted to learn more about Moradi as the book wore on. She’s an engaging Resistance fighter and Dawson does such a good job writing Moradi and her repartee with Cardinal that it’s impossible not to want more of her, or for her to be the singular narrative focus.

On the narration front, January LaVoy does a terrific job bringing Phasma, both the book and the character, to life. This was my first time listening to LaVoy’s work and I was suitably impressed. She keeps the pace moving nicely and adopts an array of inflections to separate character’s dialogue. As is typical of other Star Wars audiobook productions, the narration is accompanied by a host of sound effects and music, helping to amplify the urgency of the narration or underscore the more emotionally resonant beats. The various audio elements work together to create a highly polished and well-produced audiobook, and one that fits firmly within the stylistic realm of the Star Wars universe.

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Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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