Adult fans of Star Wars likely fantasized about joining the Rebellion when they were kids. Through a new book series from Lucasfilm Press, a new generation can envision themselves taking down the First Order by joining the Resistance. Star Wars: Join the Resistance assembles a group of young and hopeful recruits, following their early training and first mission.
Mattis Banz has been an orphan most of his life, but has always been compelled to take down bullies on his home planet of Durkteel. His actions in the name of other helpless individuals caught the attention of the Resistance, which is why he was picked up one day and transported to the Resistance Base. All of his dreams are finally coming true, but becoming a hero of the resistance is going to take a lot of work and discipline, and Mattis soon finds that it's not all fun and games.
Mattis' squadron includes a rebellious boy named Dec and his droid brother, AG-90. AG has never been reprogrammed which gives him a lot of humanoid quirks and reflexes, plus some amazing pilot instincts. But the Resistance isn't willing to let a droid be a pilot and forces collide when they insist that AG-90 be reprogrammed to serve the Resistance.
Mattis' bunkmate is a Rodian named Klimo whose over-enthusiasm can be a bit much. Then there's Sari, a hulk of a girl who hides a sweet personality beneath her gruff exterior, and Lorica, a Zeltronian girl who has already made a name for herself thwarting smugglers. But their squad leader, Jo Jerjerrod, reports directly to Admiral Ackbar and his team suspects that he may be hiding something. Could Jo possibly be working as a double agent for the First Order?
Join the Resistance is penned by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, whose credits read like royalty amongst the nerd podcast circuit. Together, they lead the Thrilling Adventure Hour on Nerdist, and have also leant their writing talents to Marvel comics. There's usually an illustration in each chapter, which is done by Annie Wu who Marvel fans may recognize from her work on the Hawkeye series.
Acker and Blacker seem to delight in playing in the Star Wars sandbox and this story includes a planet unseen in the film saga, but with some familiar creatures. During a mission to a swamp planet called Vodran, Mattis and his team encounter a sarlac, tauntauns, and rancors. However, it's unclear if this story takes place before or after The Force Awakens. The book makes mention of General Leia Organa, BB-8, and Poe Dameron, but makes no mention of the events of the Starkiller Base. For this reason, I assume this is slightly before Episode VII.
Star Wars: Join the Resistance is recommended for ages ten and up due to the reading level, but there is no objectionable content if younger padawans want to have it read to them. I recommend it most for middle school ages since most of the characters are around that age and they will easily see themselves in these rebel's shoes. However, if I have one criticism, it's that this book abruptly ends on a cliffhanger, requiring all readers to get the sequel, which is expected in October.