Death Star - Michael Reaves, Steve Perry Death Star or How I Learned to Fall Asleep and Leave the Empire
Normally, I do not bother buying the hardcover editions. They are rather expensive and hard to carry around. But when I saw this one signed by both authors, I figured why not. Ever since the movie, The Empire Strikes Back, I have adored the Empire. So, I leapt into this one as soon as I had the opportunity.

As Star Wars geeks know, the Death Star has been around in various stages since around the time of The Phantom Menace (as mentioned in the book, Rogue Planet). But only after Revenge of the Sith has it been possible to start construction on this beast of a weapon. With construction underway, the Empire is having some difficulties. Labor problems, sabotage, and power struggles are only the tip of the iceberg, as we know that the ominous weapon is about to have an infamous encounter with a simple farm boy.

What I Liked:
From the moment I saw him in A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin has fascinated me. I will be bold and say that he is probably my favorite Imperial, but most certainly the epitome of an Imperial officer. I enjoyed reading about him in Rogue Planet and hearing about him in Jedi Academy Trilogy. But these appearances didn't cut it; he was much younger or a side-long character shown in flashback. Being able to see him just before his big screen debut is fun and enlightening. Not to mention that the authors actually do a pretty good job of maintaining his characterization, as seen in A New Hope.
This leads to my next favorite attribute about the book: it is about the Empire. So many of the Star Wars Expanded Universe books have been set after the Empire is destroyed (post-Jedi) that characters like Tarkin and Darth Vader don't get a chance to be ominous (or alive). Even more recently, with the release of the prequels, much time is spent (understandably) with the Clone Wars. So now that the story line is mostly finished, it is great that authors get to have some reign in the twenty year (according to Star Wars continuity) Imperial reign. It is even cooler to see what the Imperials thought of the actions during the movie (but this is also a point that I have a problem with, see below).
Furthermore, some important questions were answered. If the Jedi had only been extinct for a mere twenty years, why did no one seem to remember them? Well, the book explains that with "Because such talk is banned, adults shut up and don't tell their children". This is why Luke is not so knowledgeable about it (and also explains why Leia is). Even the midichlorian concept is somewhat explained. With all the floating pieces in the Star Wars continuity, it is nice to see books that attempt to fill in the gaps.

What I Did Not Like:
Well, this book was not nearly as enjoyable as I had hoped. I found many problems with it, which caused me to lack interest and thus take forever to finish it.
1.Too many characters. At first glance, the Dramatis Personae doesn't seem to be very imposing with a cast at about a dozen names. I mean, the Republic Commando novels had several characters, but most of those were very sidelong characters (which, by the way, I did not enjoy; in my opinion, the Dramatis Personae should be reserved for major characters). In Death Star, each name mentioned in the Dramatis Personae is given multiple point of views (pov). With about 360 pages and 13 characters, this gives approximately 27 pages per character. Let me repeat that: only 27 pages can be devoted to each of the equally important characters. How is a person supposed to develop any bond to characters if they, on average, have only 27 pages to talk about themselves?
2.Poor characterizations. Hand in hand with too many characters, comes poor characterization. Besides perhaps Tarkin, Darth Vader, and Celot Dil, the characters are as flat as an empty tortilla shell. Atour is not even introduced until about halfway through the book and even then, you keep wondering why the authors bothered to throw him in. Daala goes from being a strong female Imperial officer to a Mary Sue of an atrocious kind (I do not think this is anything like what Kevin J. Anderson had in mind). I forgot all about Kornell from the MedStar dulogy. Reading his "entries" made me realize why I had forgotten him (e.g., he made little impression). Memah and Rodo have a worthless backstory (who cares how they got onto the Death Star!). I could see Nova's "Jedi" potential coming from a mile away. Tenn, Motti, and Villan had potential but not enough time (Tenn grew more interesting towards the end with his conflict over firing the Death Star, but it was hard to feel it as I didn't really know him). And Teela...oh, don't get me started on her. Being able to "reject" Darth Vader's mind presence and being a super-architect (architects deal with drawings; engineers do the design work, the calculations, and the analysis)...let's just say, she wasn't my favorite character. All these people at the end meet in a very contrived fashion and decide all together that the Empire is bad and needs to be destroyed. For once, I would like to see someone in the Empire who wasn't power hungry or desiring to join the Rebel Alliance. Where are those dedicated to the Imperial cause?
3.Story starts too early. This one took me some time to notice, but when I did, I wondered how I missed it. The story starts with a (very brief) backstory of where the character is and how the character finds him/herself on the Death Star. This could work if the characters were better, but since the characters are so vague and uninteresting, reading about where they are pre-Death Star and how they get on the Death Star redefines the word "boring".
4.Little action. About the most exciting part of the first section of the book is when Celot Dil escapes Despayre and gets onto the Death Star. The second part, which covers the material in the movie, is much more action packed, but seriously, for a Star Wars book, this is one of the least action-packed books I have read.
5.Unknown timeline. How long does it take to go from the beginning of the book to the end? As an old professor used to say: "Yes". To me, it would make sense for a few years to pass, but how much time actually passes is never clearly stated. All we know is that the book does terminate at 0 BBY. Not very helpful.
6.Excessive detail. Ever wanted to know how the Death Star's guns worked? What sort of detail had to be placed into designing the Death Star? The details of a surgery? Well, this is the book for you. I know it wasn't for me. I nearly fell asleep when Tenn talked about how he didn't trust the engineers (what is it with this book and bashing engineers?) with the Death Star's guns or when Teela went to painful extents to talk about how difficult her job was. If I wanted this much detail, I would have gotten a non-fiction book about these things.
7.Romance. Gosh! Don't let these guys near romance! All three of the romance stories are completely bungled up. The Tarkin/Daala angle might have been interesting had Daala not been reduced to a play toy. Memah/Celot's romance made me gag. And seeing how Teela and Vil got together was nothing new at all. Please, please, please, Michael, Steve, never, ever, ever write a romance sub-plot again!
8.Unanswered questions. How do the Rebels get the Death Star plans? How do they sabotage the Death Star? How does Admiral Daala find out the information about the destruction of the Star Destroyer before people who were actually there? Why in the heck does the Death Star have a "fem" store when the Empire doesn't even approve of female officers? Well, if you wanted these questions answered in this book, just stop right now. They won't be.
9.Movie Overlap. This point is one of those gray areas. On one hand, I really enjoyed reading about the Imperials' perspectives, their feelings, thoughts, etc. On the other hand, I got tired of the word-for-word account of the movie (and how everyone gets to see Princess Leia, Han, Luke, and Chewie). A little goes a long way.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Star Wars language is about as rough as it gets.
Twi'lek females are described in a slightly sexualized manner. Tarkin calls Admiral Daala to the Death Star for a "personal" briefing. One scene includes him in bed and Daala coming out of the shower. He also talks about how on fire he is despite his age. Romantic sparks fly across the Death Star along with the innuendos attached to the romantic situations.
Despayre is a prisoner planet, filled with violence and death. Nova Stihl is a martial artist. He and Rodo, the bouncer, end up in a few fights. Also, several big explosions (i.e. Alderaan) occur in the book.

Overall:
I was hoping for so much to happen in this book. I was looking forward to Tarkin, Darth Vader, and Admiral Motti. I was looking forward to seeing how the Death Star was constructed. I was looking forward to seeing how the Rebels stole the plans. I was looking forward to seeing the Empire in full bloom.
Man, am I disappointed! Tarkin, Darth Vader, and Motti are here...in between almost 12 other characters. The Death Star is constructed...but it sure isn't the focus of this novel. The Rebels stole the Death Star plans? Golly, I would never have known from this book! At least the Empire is in full bloom...but no one is dedicated to it once they find out how "bad" the Empire is.
Ultimately, I really don't think the long wait to find out what happened before young Luke's fateful adventure was worth it. The novel, written by authors who deftly created the MedStar duology (and outdid themselves, in my opinion) and their own individual accomplishments (remember the stunning Shadow Hunter by Reaves or the amazing Shadows of the Empire by Perry?), write the most boring, fluff novel that I have seen in the Star Wars universe. And they named it "Death Star"? Hm, I think a better title would be: "Bored Star". Even the second act, much more action packed than the first, could not save the book. Very poor entry into the Star Wars world. I would not recommend.