The Force Unleashed: Star Wars - Sean Williams Even the bookstore wouldn't buy this one back!
Some two years back, a big deal was made of The Force Unleashed. There was to be a stunning new video game, a book, a comic...the whole shebang. So, I bought the game, tried it out. It was okay (I have a review of it for those interested), but I never had a desire to finish it. A while passes, and a friend of mine recently finished this book, declaring it the worst Star Wars novel ever. I've read some pretty bad Star Wars novels (Jedi Trial and the Black Fleet Crisis Trilogy come to mind) so I had to see if he was correct.
Vader has a secret apprentice who is only known as codename Starkiller. He is sent to kill the last Jedi, with the help of his droid, PROXY, and his pilot, Juno Eclipse. But then the Emperor finds out about Starkiller...and there can be only two Sith at one time...

I Liked:
General Rohm Kota is a pretty interesting character, if highly underdeveloped (and constantly compromised once he is blinded). Juno Eclipse is probably one of the more sympathetic and relatable characters, and her insight and viewpoints are very necessary and a breath of fresh air, particularly in the beginning of the novel. It's nice that Bail and Leia Organa appear in a pre-A New Hope novel. And it's nice to hear what happened to Shaak Ti.
Also, to be honest, the last quarter of the book gets pretty interesting, with Starkiller's inner struggles and his feelings to Juno.

I Didn't Like:
From page 1, this book reads like a transcript of a video game (in fact, I am pretty sure that some of the same lines of dialogue from the video game are in here). We have only barely been introduced to Starkiller then Vader sends him off to fight Kota. "Okay," I thought, "maybe this will be an insightful mission." But not twenty pages later, Starkiller has defeated Kota. He returns...and Vader gives him another mission. Kill this psycho techie Jedi, Kazdan Paratus, on Raxus Prime. Which is finished 20 pages later. By the time we reach only page 66, Starkiller has been on three missions. Three.
As if this wasn't bad enough, then things get absurd. Starkiller is thrown out a window into the vacuum of space...yet lives? Juno is arrested by the Emperor...but somehow ends up on Vader's secret lab with Starkiller so he can save her just in the nick of time (convenient)? Starkiller is ordered to kill everyone...but leaves random Felucians to live, one of the Emperor's secret royal guards (albeit he is left dismembered), and scavengers on Raxus Prime? PROXY can duel Starkiller...but he can't fight against Imperials? Starkiller and PROXY need a pilot...until Vader's secret lab is about to fall into the sun (?!) and then, suddenly, they discover the ability to pilot? This point really bugs me. If Starkiller's existence is so secretive, why does he need a pilot in the first place? Darth Maul didn't need a pilot.
During the course of the story, Juno develops a crush on Starkiller. Starkiller mentions nothing about her...until about a hundred pages from the end when he suddenly has feelings for her and is talking about going away with her to safety. When did these feelings appear? Why does he feel this way?
At one point, Starkiller is trying to get to the mock Jedi Temple that Kazdan made (honestly, what secret Jedi is going to announce their appearance this way?). A starship lies in his path, delaying his route by hours, according to him. His solution? Get inside the ship, use Force Lightning to start the engine (not sure how this happens since lightning is static electricity, not the same used in powering equipment), and "move the ship out of the path". Only problem is, since Starkiller is in the ship, he is now hours out of the path he was previously in AND has let everyone know he is on the planet. What has this accomplished?
Starkiller is ordered to destroy the skyhook's moorings. But why must he destroy all six? Wouldn't destroying one or two have sufficed and torn the rest of the structure to shreds? Maybe I would understand this better had there been more detail on the skyhook and less on Starkiller killing everything.
Starkiller goes to find General Kota on Cloud City. He does, but Kota is blind. When Imperials come to get Kota, Starkiller and Kota leave, Starkiller telling Kota to follow the sound of his lightsaber. Only, how is blind Kota supposed to meet Starkiller at the drop site? Does Kota follow Starkiller's lightsaber as Starkiller hacks at the Emperor's guards? How is Kota not being within visual range of Starkiller a signal to the secret apprentice that he can use the Dark Side? Kota is a Jedi Master...shouldn't he be able to sense the use of the Dark Side without having to be in "visual" range? And how is Kota's blindness suddenly such a big weakness that it overshadows ALL his Force abilities, ALL his years of training, and the fact he's a Jedi Master? The Jedi Temple was filled with blind Jedi. What is one of the first lessons Ben gives Luke? "Your eyes can deceive you. Don't trust them." Nowhere does he say, "Oh, you're blind? Tough luck. Off to the Agricorps for you!"
Time and time again, little things like these crop up. No one is perfect, and I understand that. But I certainly don't expect a whole grocery list of "WTF happened here?" to appear in a book. Maybe if the story had been better...or the characters interesting...
The characters themselves are some of the most bland that I've seen in the Star Wars Universe. Starkiller is without a doubt a Marty Stu. He can wield the Dark Side in a way that makes Darth Bane at his peak look like breast-feeding baby, Darth Vader a child, and the Emperor an apprentice. Starkiller can duel multiple enemies, Force Lightning them, throw things at their bodies, and still win without breaking a sweat. What happened to the strain of the Force? No Sith has been shown to duel like Starkiller and come out so miraculously on top (sure, he breaks a sweat with the Star Destroyer...but it doesn't eradicate all the other duels before). And if I have to read one more varient of "None could stand up to him and survive", I think I'll go Wookiee!
Juno Eclispe wouldn't be such a bad character if she would stop harping on Callos (every time we get her point of view, she has to throw in a million references to that mission), didn't end up being the stereotypical disillusioned Imperial that apparently populate the entire Empire (I have no idea why the Rebel Alliance even needed to form, just give these Imperials a little time and they would have all left the Empire anyway!), and was actually needed for the "team" (since apparently Starkiller and PROXY can learn to pilot in an emergency or whenever she is "exhausted").
PROXY is an interesting concept, but never really leaps off the pages. Vader feels completely wrong, as does the Emperor. General Rohm Kota is kinda cool and my favorite character but lacking (especially with his blind Jedi old man-ness that keeps him from being...well, interesting). Kazdan Paratus is so stereotypical it's embarrassing. Shaak Ti appeared only to be promptly killed. Leia Organa appears in a manner that reminds me of those people in video games who approach you and tell you what your next objective is.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
None, but the dialogue is so nasty, it ought to be censored.
In the videogame, Juno Eclipse has a wardrobe malfunction and gets out of the high necked uniform that every other Imperial captain wears. However, this is not mentioned in the book.
Endless. Starkiller kills a lot of people. A lot. Decapitations, electric shock, dismemberment, burning out someone's eyes, stabbings, blowing up a rancor from the inside, you name it, Starkiller does it. In quadruplicate.

This book was painful to read. I was kinda excited about reading it, to learn more about this secret apprentice (which is kinda weird, but ah, well, it's Star Wars, they are always doing something like this), and to enjoy myself. But I really don't enjoy reading something that sounds directly written from a video game. I also like a little depth to my characters and at least some thought put into the writing. I didn't see much of that here. And while I wouldn't categorize this as the worst (there is still Jedi Trial after all), but this is probably one of my top ten worst Star Wars Expanded Universe novels.
P.S. As a sidenote, after finishing, I tried to sell it back. The used bookstore wouldn't take it.