Review: Star Wars Doctor Aphra (2021)

Author: Sarah Kuhn
Publisher: Del Rey / Penguin
Release Date: Paperback 2020 / Hardback 6th April 2021

Dr. Aphra teams up with Darth Vader himself in this original script of the thrilling Star Wars audiobook production.

Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra, rogue archaeologist, is in trouble again. A pioneer in the field of criminal xenoarchaeology, Aphra recognizes no law, has no fear, and possesses no impulse control. To her, the true worth of the galactic relics she discovers isn’t found in a museum but in an arsenal. This viewpoint has led to a lot of misunderstandings. After her latest plan goes horribly wrong, her roguish ways are on the verge of catching up to her. That’s when suddenly Darth Vader, terror of the galaxy, swoops in with his lightsaber and…saves her life?


Don’t get her wrong–it’s not like she’s ungrateful. Sure, her new boss is a lord of the Sith. And okay, she may have just become a pawn in a deadly game being played by him and his boss, who happens to be the Galactic Emperor. And yes, the life expectancy of anyone who disappoints Vader can be measured in seconds. But she’s back doing what she does best. She’s got a ship to fly, a heist to pull, and two unorthodox but effective metal buddies: Triple-Zero, a protocol droid specializing in etiquette, customs, translation, and torture, and BT-1, anastromech loaded with enough firepower to take down a battlecruiser. Together, they might just find a way to get the job done and avoid the deadly performance review that waits at its conclusion.
Just kidding. She’s doomed.

REVIEW

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra was an Audiobook adaptation of the first 25-issue run of Darth Vader, the Star Wars: Vader Down crossover event, and the Rebel Jail arc of the main Star Wars title, but exclusively from Doctor Aphra’s unique perspective. If a scene or plot point from any of those comics doesn’t feature Aphra herself, it doesn’t factor in here, as the story is told via a first-person point of view. This was previously released as an audio book, then a paperback transcript and now available in hardback.

One of the things that makes Aphra such an instant iconic character is that you can’t hate her, even when she’s making very questionable decisions. She is an incredibly emotional character who wears her heart on her sleeve and is a strong female lead in the Star Wars universe people have been waiting for. An adventurous archeologist who brings new creativity to Star Wars. Doctor Aphra will undoubtedly find herself as a long-standing fan favourite among audiences due to her fun and charming personality and sense of adventure.

Sarah Kuhn has created an enjoyable origin story which fits nicely between the movies A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. This is an original tale in a previously unexplored period in time but still creates an air of nostalgia to the original movies. Having listened to this audiobook upon its original release I found this book to be a nice accompaniment. Although not a novel and you are essentially reading an audio script you are still able to follow the story well and take great enjoyment from this adaptation.

I read this via an advance preview hardback copy issued by Penguin/Del Rey books and received no other incentive to review this book. All images and artwork are courtesy of Penguin/Del Rey/Disney and Star Wars.

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