The JC Lit Reviews Special: RED HARVEST (Spoilers)

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Havac, Jan 8, 2011.

  1. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Red Harvest, the second Star Wars horror novel and the prequel to Dark Troopers, is here to scare you silly just in time for the new year!

    Some rules: rate Red Harvest on a scale of 1 to 10, supplementing your rating with a review, if you want to (It's not necessary but is highly encouraged). However, please do not rate or review the book until after you've read the whole thing. Thanks. :)

    Go for it.;)


    Some previous review threads:

    Republic Commando: Hard Contact, by Karen Traviss
    Shatterpoint, by Matthew Stover
    The Cestus Deception, by Steven Barnes
    Medstar I: Battle Surgeons, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Medstar II: Jedi Healer, by Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
    Jedi Trial, by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, by Sean Stewart
    Labyrinth of Evil, by James Luceno
    Revenge of the Sith, by Matthew Stover
    Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
    Galaxies: The Ruins of Dantooine, by Veronica Whitney-Robinson
    Tatooine Ghost, by Troy Denning
    Survivor's Quest, by Timothy Zahn
    Enemy Lines I: Rebel Dream, by Aaron Allston
    Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand, by Aaron Allston
    Traitor, by Matthew Stover
    Destiny's Way, by Walter Jon Williams
    Force Heretic I: Remnant, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic II: Refugee, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    Force Heretic III: Reunion, by Sean Williams and Shane Dix
    The Final Prophecy, by Greg Keyes
    The Unifying Force, by James Luceno
    Dark Nest I: The Joiner King, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest II: The Unseen Queen, by Troy Denning
    Dark Nest III: The Swarm War, by Troy Denning
    Outbound Flight, by Timothy Zahn
    Republic Commando: Triple Zero, by Karen Traviss
    Legacy of the Force: Betrayal, by Aaron Allston
    Legacy of the Force: Bloodlines, by Karen Traviss
    Darth Bane: Path of
  2. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    Well, I'm a horror fan and I enjoyed both Death Troopers and this, apart from having to suspend disbelief with the Force talking orchid. The belief suspension earns it an 8/10.
  3. KnightDawg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 26, 2007
    star 4
    I went into reading Death Troopers with the frame of mind that this will be kinda like a cheesey 80's B-movie horror flick take on SW. That's what it turned out to be, so I was overall pleased. Since Red Harvest was a prequel and also by the same author, I knew I was going to enjoy this novel equally. I was WRONG. Zero horror and more comedy than anything else. I would compare the Death Troopers/Red Harvest combo to C.H.U.D./C.H.U.D. 2: Bud the Chud. First off, the author took the bone chilling "zombie" virus and made into a comical result from dropping a talking flower (yes, a talking flower) into some fluid. :oops: The first chapter was outstanding and made me think this was going to be a great read. We are introduced to a powerful young Sith named Rance Lussk with tons of character potential. Soon afterwards, we are introduced to an interesting Jedi named Rojo Trace that doesn't seem to act like your typical Jedi. Both characters had tons of potential, yet the author does NOTHING great with them. Trace is killed off way to easily after a HUGE build-up. Even worse, Lussk's character is completely wasted and once he shows up at the end, he only gets about a paragraph and is pathetically killed off. This book was so bad, that I lost all care for any character and it contained ZERO drama. I was never once glued to the book. Death Troopers on the other hand,....man, I couldn't put that book down (even with the cheesey introduction of Han and Chewie). In Death Troopers, there was the suspense of the character trying to figure out what to do next. In Red Harvest, everytime there was a potential suspense build-up, the "wimpy" Jedi named Hestizo Trace would just say, "GROW!!" and that simply made everything better. [face_not_talking]

    Seriously....a talking (force-talking) flower? :oops: c'mon

    3/10

    I want my money back. :(



  4. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 11/2 = 5.50
  5. Obi-Wan_Ken-Obi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 28, 2005
    star 2
    The speech by Rojo Trace at the beginning of the novel, that simply can be called nothing BUT a rip-off off of Taken (that's a lot of ofs and offs), made me almost want to stop reading but even though I continuously gave the book the benefit of the doubt I was never rewarded for my tenacity and eventually finished it feeling non-entertained and utterly surprised that this sad excuse for a novel even passed editing. 3/10
  6. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 14/3 = 4.67
  7. Point Given Mod of Literature and Community

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Dec 12, 2006
    star 5
    I couldn't finish the book. It was just plain terrible

    1/10 (the only point being because of the absurd hilarity of a flower that can communicate being the center of everything)
  8. Chance the Jedi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 25, 2005
    star 5
    I liked it, had quite a blast with it actually. Although a few things just didn't quite make sense to me, but all in all I thought it was more of an suspense book than a horror one. Since, it was set during the Old Republic I just had to buy it, because I just love all the rich stories from that time period. Also, I wished it didn't take me only two sittings to finish it too.

    8/10 for me.
  9. Manisphere Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 25, 2007
    star 5
    I liked Death Troopers more...I think. This was okay. Schreiber has a fluent and competent style. His stuff is tight but not really my cup of tea. Talking flowers in SW? Hmm...Actually the orchid in RH wouldn't shut up!

    Some interesting ideas that went on and on. The zombies become tiresome for me early in this low page count. On the plus side I liked that Screiber's style was an inevitable fit for a Sith tale. They're such disgusting folks, I think he did them justice. I didn't buy the copy I read so I don't feel hostile.

    An interesting end to an anemic year for EU novels.

    6.5


  10. wookieesniper Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2010
    star 1
    I liked it a lot better than Death Troopers. The characters were a lot more interesting and Schrieber nailed life in a Sith Academy. Liked the librarian and Tulkh the bounty hunter. What I liked most was that the dramatis personae was all muddled up so the list did not necessarily rank the characters in order of how long they survive for. Anyone could die at any minute (except for Hestizo).

    Some people say that Tojo's death was too abrupt but I thought it was awesome!

    9 / 10
  11. Qui-Gon_Reborn Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Dec 11, 2008
    star 6
    It was a good, fun read. There was some suspension of disbelief involved, but I've never had a problem with that. After all, it's just fiction. Schreiber's an extremely talented author, and I hope he gets the opportunity to write more novels set in the Star Wars universe.

    9/10
  12. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 46.5/7 = 6.64
  13. Kyp_Skywalker Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2008
    star 1
    I liked Death Troopers a lot but was under-whelmed by this one.

    Dont get me wrong there were some good moments but on the whole the book was just a little... boring.

    Darth Scabrous was strong and interesting, Luusk was soooo soooo wasted though.

    Decent book, nothing special though. Doesnt come near Death Troopers.

    5.2/10
  14. GrandMasterKatarn Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Feb 8, 2008
    star 4
    I thought Red Harvest had potential. But then I read it and was baffled by a Force-talking flower, the absurdity of the Sith getting their @$$es handed to them by zombies (Jedi wiping the Sith's @$$es I can understand, it's natural, but zombies?!?!?!?!?!?!?) Two characters were great, and they were offed in cheesily underhanded ways. I was glad when the book ended.

    1/10 an "horror"ible ending to a horrible year of SW novels and continuity screw-ups
  15. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 52.7/9 = 5.86
  16. Mastadge Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 1999
    star 7
    With many characters and nonstop action -- this is the type of book that, if filmed page for page, would probably fit into a two hour movie -- this book is a very quick read, so it's got that going for it. Unfortunately, I just don't like these Sith at all. The Sith Academy is described as a "hive of darkness so black and toxic that it blazes with it own special kind of evil, unimaginable," but really it comes across as Summerhill for manipulators, bullies and cynical college hipsters. The most unpleasant person in the book is a Jedi, and the most badass is one of the few without any Force powers. And with so many characters sharing relatively few pages, we really don't get to know any of them well enough to get really involved in their plight before it's over, and a few of them exhibit awesome skills early on that are pretty much dropped or ignored later -- why set up what you're not going to pay off. Schreiber's a good enough writer that this is certainly readable and even enjoyable, although with a few quibbles: a person jumps and his feet are described as barely seeming to touch the ground . . . do feet usually touch the ground when one is jumping? A character is described as rearing backwards . . . as opposed to rearing in another direction? A characters jumps out of a crowd and gets into a fight scene and no one in the crowd notices any of it? And do we really need a drooling Sith on the cover? But as I was saying before I distracted myself: Schreiber's a good enough writer to keep things moving, so even though this feels like a pretty irrelevant entry into the canon, it's a cut or two above the hackwork it could have been.

    5.5/10
  17. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 58.2/10 = 5.82
  18. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

    VIP
    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2000
    star 4
    I'm extremely sorry for taking this off-topic, but - tee hee, the omnipresent "Dark" titles have finally caught up with Havac. :D
    DavBacca likes this.
  19. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Say, how come they didn't name this one Dark Harvest?
  20. Kol_Skywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2006
    star 4
    Why not Dark Red?

    Oh whoops, that's right, can't have that, as that is the title of the upcoming Mara Jade novel during her time as the Emperor's Hand :D
  21. Ackbar_Van_Gungan Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2004
    star 4
    In A Few Words: Disappointing in almost every way, the only thing scary about Joe Schreiber's Red Harvest is the fact that a major house considered it publishable.

    Pros:
    -It's only 241 pages.

    Cons:
    -Arguably unedited
    -Repetitive plot ignores all of the inherent potential in the setup
    -Entire plot threads do nothing but detract from the story

    The Review: Brainless. Stumbling. Grotesque. Unrelenting. It's doubtful that Joe Schreiber was trying to be "meta" in writing his latest novel. At the same time, it's hard to ignore the similarities between Red Harvest and the single-minded zombie hordes contained within. The recipe behind Red Harvest is a standard one: an unexpected outbreak of an unknown pathogen results in a zombie menace from which the uninfected must escape. Yet even with the variety of spices found in Lucas's far, far away galaxy, it's about as palatable as a plateful of raw gray matter.

    And it's certainly not the extra flavor that ruins the dish. Star Wars tie-in fiction has never claimed to be high art. Intended to sell first and entertain second, critical acclaim might not even be on the list of priorities. But even with lowered expectations, Red Harvest marks a new nadir for a franchise that has been slowly declining for over a decade.

    Essentially, Schreiber's latest boils down to a repetitive sequence linked together more tenuously than the entrails of one of his victims. Wasting no time on character development, Schreiber quickly assembles his cast of paper-thin characters - Hestizo Trace (Jedi Botanist), Rojo Trace (Jedi brother and Liam Neeson wannabe), the Black Orchid (talking plant) and Darth Scabrous (generic bad guy) - before throwing them into the plot. After a brief setup and a little Force magic to introduce the zombie threat, Schreiber's writing soon devolves into little more than copy-and-paste carnage. The zombies surprise, attack, get "killed", are presumed dead, surprise again, infect someone, and are finally dismembered or eluded. It's splatterpunk at it's most gratuitous and it fails even at that.

    The highest compliment I can pay to Red Harvest is that the first fifty or so pages are merely forgettable. Until page 53, on which Schreiber blatantly "borrows" [read "plagiarizes"] a key quote from 2009's action/revenge film Taken. Everything is downhill from there.

    "Listen to me, Trace told him. I don't know who you are, but I am in possession of a very special set of skills. If you bring my sister back right now, unharmed, then I'll let you go. But if you don't, I promise you, I will track you down. I will find you. And I will make you pay." [pg. 53]

    After this, it only gets harder to keep reading, and judging from the gradual decline in quality, the assigned editor might agree. That is, if an editor actually touched the manuscript after the outline phase. Based on the sheer number of awkward metaphors and continuity screw-ups, I wouldn't be suprised if they hadn't. And these aren't minor fanboy nitpicks about the number of fingers a particular alien has or the way that a character's motivation contradicts a single line of movie dialogue. These are blatant errors, the "Wait...What?" lines that force you to reread prose that in no way deserves it. At one point, a character slits his wrists in one scene and is alive and well in the next. At another, Schreiber apparently forgets which character bit another, temporarily reversing the vector/victim relationship. Maybe the editor assumed that he understood resuming a plot thread where it left off isn't optional, but Schreiber apparently likes to push the boundaries of what is considered acceptable narrative.

    Even as egregious as these "hard" errors are, they are almost welcome in comparison to the softer ones; those of story direction, pacing and thematic structure. It should be simple - a lone Jedi Knight has to stay alive in the midst of a bloody battle between cut-throat Sith and bite-throat Zombies, relying on her wits and the self-interested nature of evil to survive. By turning the
  22. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 60.2/11 = 5.47
  23. Darth_Monopoly Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 6, 2006
    star 2
    I actually liked this novel. Sure it wasn't the best thing I've read recently, but it kept me entertained. I was a bit disappointed in the page count, but due to the nature of the story it ended up taking me a while to finish it anyways (I bought it on release day). Sure, there were parts I weren't too thrilled about (the Taken scene being one of them), and I also felt like Rojo was just added in as an afterthought. But I really enjoyed reading a book with absolutely zero characters that we'd been introduced to before, and have no qualms about killing them off just pages after they were introduced. I also really enjoyed the character of Tulkh, as well as the HK droid.

    7.5/10
  24. Havac Former Moderator

    Member Since:
    Sep 29, 2005
    star 7
    Average score: 67.7/12 = 5.64
  25. PadmeA_Panties Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 2003
    star 4
    This novel's reviews kill me. 7.5 when you spent your review talking about how you were dissapointed with the novel and that it wasn't the best and that you expected it not to be good. Then why does it get a 7.5?

    Put it into percents; thats 75/100. 75%. Meaning its in the top 25% of novels. 3/4ths; the top tier basically if you were to split it into 4ths. Good grief.