This review is spoiler-free.
It’s been a while since I have ventured into the world of Star Wars audiobooks, so when I learned last year that Doctor Aphra was getting her own original story, I quickly added it to my wish list. But was it worth it?
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is an original story resting on the framework set up by the Star Wars: Darth Vader comic book series, where Doctor Aphra is first introduced. But unlike the comics, we are not following the Dark Lord of the Sith but everyone’s favourite rogue archaeologist instead! This means that if you have read the Marvel Comics series, then you know the destination of the story, but you don’t know the whole journey! All the gaps from the comics are filled in, with the audiobook exploring the story through the unique perspective of Doctor Aphra and her two murderous android companions!
Dr Chelli Lona Aphra, rogue archaeologist, is in trouble again.
A pioneer in the field of criminal xenoarchaeology, Aphra recognises 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 criminal past is on the verge of catching up to her, when suddenly Darth Vader, the terror of the galaxy, swoops in with his lightsaber ignited and…saves her life?
The audiobook is beautifully constructed and benefits from really strong sound design and editing. The story is exciting and well-paced, while both seamlessly fitting into the Star Wars universe, but also having a uniqueness to it that makes it stand out from its peers.
Doctor Aphra is not a tokenistic character, she is an extremely important one. Star Wars needs more women, more diversity and is screaming out for true LGBTQ+ representation. Aphra is not a box ticking exercise but is in fact a fantastically rounded and unique character that adds great value and worth to the stories she’s involved in. It is hard not to fall for this character that has just as many flaws as she has strengths. She is both warm and humorous and deadly and cold in equal measure, but thanks to the skilled writing, the character works perfectly. I think this property would really be a big hit should Disney wish to bring in to either animation or live action on Disney+.
So, on to the negatives!
There is one key supporting character who I found really unlikeable, and while the performance of the character was, actually, really well done, I found those segments, in terms of the story, frustrating. In addition to this, the Wookie noises and a few other characters, especially established and key ‘Saga’ characters are also a little off-putting. There was also a minor issue with the tone when it comes to Aphra’s character. For the most part, she is a fantastic character and a great anti-hero, and she has genuinely become a favourite of mine. But there were one or two scenarios where that anti-hero line was crossed to an extreme, so the balance was noticeably off. These moments of extremes are few and far between but do let down the story a little when you are in the moment.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is a fun, fresh take on a popular story offering the unique perspective of a new fan-favourite! The main cast of performers are exceptional and this is matched by an enjoyable and well-written story. Some frustrating characters and poor supporting cast performances do hinder the overall enjoyment a little, but if you can grit your teeth and work past it, you’ll be left very satisfied and entertained. Aphra is an important character to have in the Star Wars Universe and hopefully her exposure to a wider audience will continue.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra is available now on Audible UK.