Reviews Books The JC Lit Reviews Special: RED HARVEST (Spoilers)

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

  1. Kalphite

    Kalphite Jedi Youngling star 2

    Sep 4, 2009
    Finally got around to reading this one...admittedly it wasn't very high on my 'to-do' list [face_shhh]

    To me, the beauty of horror novels/movies is building suspense and surprise. The first novel was kind of a bummer in that everybody knew Han and Chewie would where's the drama? There are no big-name characters in this time, so that wasn't a big deal (and oh boy...characters were introduced and randomly killed off more times in this novel than I could count!).

    That being said...this novel was really pathetically predictable. Everybody and their mother knew way early on that the brother was going to sacrifice himself to save his sister. The shock of all the other random deaths couldn't counter that obvious and blatant major story-arch. Though I have to say...having the random dock-worker be one of the two survivors was a surprise for me [face_laugh]

    As for the story a lot of ways it was quite silly, almost to the point of being ludicrous. Aside from the fact that we have dead things walking around....we also have Jedi talking to flowers (actual conversations, mind you...) and Sith rituals involving eating the heart of a Jedi with a high midi-chlorian count (lol really?).

    Maybe I'm being too hard on this was entertaining, and for me that's the only thing that matters. Heck, that's the only reason I read sci-fi to begin with. It wasn't border-line boring like the most of the LotF and FotJ novels we've been getting recently. And not having major character name-bombs like 'Skywalker' in the novel is a big plus. I applaud the attempt at bringing horror into the Star Wars univers.

  2. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 120.9/21 = 5.76
  3. aalagartassle

    aalagartassle Jedi Master star 4

    Jan 11, 2011
    Whipids rock!:D
    Murakami Orchids that can somehow make one immortal![Scarberous got the formular wrong]
    Zombie Taun Tauns![face_laugh]
    Blood and guts:eek:
    Zombies ...meh..
    Apart from the zombies [yeh I know it was most of the book] it was great.

  4. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 128.9/22 = 5.86
  5. 13thsithlord

    13thsithlord Jedi Knight star 1

    Aug 30, 2005
    not a big fan of zombies but death troopers was a fun little book

    sorry it was rubbish.
    dull. obvious and not engaging.

  6. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 130.9/23 = 5.69
  7. MistrX

    MistrX Jedi Master star 4

    Jun 20, 2006
    I guess I'm breaking the mold a little bit when I say that I had something of a blast reading this book. Like Death Troopers, it's nothing deep or profound and there aren't any grand lessons being presented to the reader. Like Schreiber's previous effort, it's a gory, twisted tale of survival horror, similar to the last story only in a different setting and (thankfully) with unknown characters, allowing the story to have the "anyone can die" aspect that is one of the definitions of the genre and was something Death Troopers lacked given the presence of a certain smuggler and his giant hairy companion.

    The book doesn't break any new ground, happily using all of the tropes and clichés one would expect from a zombie story. I'll be honest, I don't read horror novels normally, so I'm basing this experience on horror movies more than literature, but here we have something that resembles even that. Throughout the story, we're given POVs of several characters and not only are we guessing who will live and who will die later in the story, but early on we're not even sure who the main protagonists will be as we're given insights into a few characters but who quickly either a) die or b) end up playing a more cursory role in the overall story. While I can understand some would be put off with this structure (particularly with a certain Jedi and the academy's top Sith student characters) I actually thought it worked for the story, again keeping us guessing on who we'll be following and who will impact the story.

    As I noted, anyone who's seen plenty of survival horror will recognize some familiar archetypes. There's the Last Girl, the a-hole willing to screw over their companions to live and ultimately gets their comeuppance, the weakling character not at all prepared for the situation with a giant target on their back, the tough survivor who ultimately must sacrifice themselves, and the protagonist who makes it through most of the story before dying shortly before the climax. The book even has one of the Alien franchise's favorite last second perils, which I ultimately found to be unnecessary, though it did allow the book's true protagonist to shine one final time after spending most of the book (apart from one sort of foreshadowing moment) as a distressed damsel.

    For the most part, those familiar horror sights worked for me with a few exceptions like that latter one I mentioned. What I really enjoyed though were the various twists and times the rug is kind of pulled out from under us. The fate of Zo's brother was pretty clear about mid-duel (I actually though Scabrous was going to try to eat HIS heart) but it's still pretty gut wrenching when it happens and turns the idea of a savior character, at least momentarily, on its head. There's also a rather cool scene where one of the survivors tries to use a Sith obstacle course against the zombies and when that begins to fail, removes a restraining bolt from the academy's resident HK droid. Hilarity ensues.

    I know a lot of people were put off by the Taken line (you can always tell if someone likes such a thing if they say something along the lines of "paid homage to" and that they didn't when they say something like "ripped off"), but it didn't bother me. The only disappointment I had there was that the character never really paid off. I also thought it was clever of Schreiber to begin with this orchid that could talk to a Jedi and, if readers thought it a little odd to have a telepathic flower, remind us of Star Wars' plant-based species by including a Neti. I see what you did there.

    Like Death Troopers, Schreiber brings the gore back, this time more in the body horror of the zombified Sith students and their dead grins. That was interesting to picture and if you're going to go with a creepy dead expression, a Slasher Smile is a decent way to try that.

    It's not going to go down in history as one of Star Wars' greatest, but for what it is, it's pretty entertaining and constantly brutal. The fact that any character survive
  8. Todd the Jedi

    Todd the Jedi Mod and KENOBEEHHH Herald of SWTV and Lit star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Oct 16, 2008
    Joe Schreiber returns to the SW galaxy with another horror tale, Red Harvest. He tells the terrifying origin of the zombie virus in Death Troopers, set during the relative time period of the video game The Old Republic. It focuses less on actual zombies and more on Sith alchemy and other strange phenomena.

    I thought the story started off well enough, introducing several Sith students and the Sith academy ion general. Schreiber goes out of his way to describe the unnatural feel of the academy, especially the tower where the Sith Lord/headmaster, Darth Scabrous, dwells. I thought it was interesting that the main ingredient for the zombie plague, or everlasting life as Scabrous sees it, was a plant, explaining the biological reach of the plague. With the help of some arcane Sith experiments, this potion bears fruit, quite literally (and gruesomely) in some cases. I liked Hestizo, but the orchid was a tad annoying. Though, looking back it's totally like a plant to be always needy and afraid of little changes and be extremely sensitive. Tulkh was a cool character. Though he was clearly a bad person, even he knew how twisted Scabrous was. He couldn't not help Hestizo out. And he acted like a badass going against the zombies, especially considering they had the force. I found the presentation of the plague here rather intriguing. It was as if the orchid was corrupted and willing the students to act like zombies and such. At the same time, as if the orchid had a split personality at this point, it was able to help out Zo. Of course, Scabrous uses this against her, with the help of the Neti librarian, who was also interesting (if somewhat of a stereotype, lol). I liked the idea behind Rojo Trace. He is probably a badass in normal circumstances. For instance, if he were to go up against Tulkh he would probably win. But he had no idea what he was really getting himself into. That said, he did perform rather admirably in the face of the horror that Scabrous turned himself into. I also liked the mechanic, just for being the only "normal" person to escape this calamity alive.

    In general this was a pretty good horror novel. The transformation process was filled with squick, and it's always scary when the group of survivors slowly whittles down. Of course, with the Sith the zombies aren't necessarily the worst threat, due to the ruthless pragmatism and selfishness of the Sith. The atmosphere of the academy is well written, especially since the whole story takes place over the course of a single day, with most of the action going on at night, in a harsh snowstorm, à la The Shining. There were some funny aspects of the plot, such as the fact that the two women survived longer than most everyone else, and not even the big bad alpha-student Sith could survive very long, instead opting to take as many out as he could before becoming infected.

    I give this an 8 out of 10 for another fun horror novel by Joe Schreiber, and for some good use of continuity. Any love for the Clone Wars micro-series is much appreciated by me. :)
  9. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    With Death Troopers, I think Schreiber managed a decently entertaining horror story, though it ultimately wasn't anything special. With Red Harvest, Schreiber wisely changes up the formula – instead of being a diminishing-returns rerun of Death Troopers' creeping-horror premise of building up foreboding before unleashing a mysterious invasion of zombies on a handful of protagonists locked in a dark ship, he goes with a little more of a slasher approach, quickly getting to the zombies and letting us see them mow through a wide assortment of victims before focusing down on a few survivors.

    Schreiber is pretty good at developing a very broad cast just enough so that we know all the many people who snuff it, and it's a clever change of pace, but the problem is that Schreiber doesn't keep up the atmosphere of horror that made Death Troopers work to the extent that it did. Instead of the anything-can-happen, lurking-in-the-dark atmosphere of Death Troopers and its genuinely creepy environs, we just get zombies wandering around everywhere in a snowy kind of set of ruins, and there's really never any sense of surprise or dread or anything. We're in on the whole spread of them from the beginning, so there's just no lurking unknown involved.

    Seeing a wide extent of characters slaughtered is a nice intro, but it takes up the first half of the book without actually building to anything; there's no band of protagonists that we particularly care about, and it's just an endless repeat of the same formula. People go to a nondescript place, zombies pop out of nowhere, the people generally die. Sometimes they escape to repeat the same scene over again. There aren't any particularly memorable setpieces. Actual development of the handful of characters we could care about is limited by the attention paid to all the one-offers. The plot doesn't seem to go anywhere or build to anything. And the whole thing hinges on a ridiculous, ridiculous conceit of a talking flower (and its ability to shoot vines out of zombies).

    It seems like a very unimaginative follow-up to a decent if unspectacular book, and while there are a few good ideas, overall it's misguided. It could mine a lot of horror out of a Sith academy setting, but instead it all just feels generic. And boy is the cast ever bland; it's just a bunch of human males. Why even set it in the Star Wars galaxy if you're only going to have four aliens in the entire twenty-plus-person cast and if the Force is going to end up by and large irrelevant to dealing with the zombies?

  10. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 29, 2005
    Average score: 142.9/25 = 5.72
  11. Kato Sai

    Kato Sai Chosen One star 8

    Apr 27, 2014
    Just picked up a copy and am hooked.

    To see how a Sith Academy functions outside comics or video games is exciting.