Reviews

Force Collector Review

Our full review of Kevin Shinick's Force Collector
Eric Eilersen
Dec 3, 2019
7.9
Karr’s journey takes readers through the greatest hits of the Skywalker Saga thus far, but unfortunately, the pacing of the book doesn’t always quite contain the necessary energy to propel the story forward.

While the opinions exhibited in this review are primarily those of the writer, input was provided by the entirety of the Youtini staff. SPOILERS AHEAD for Force Collector.


One of the primary joys of being a Star Wars fan is stuffing your mind with all of the facts, figures, and oddities that are held within a galaxy far, far away. The amount of information crammed within the entirety of the Star Wars Canon is undeniably massive, but wading through its depths has provided countless hours of unbridled excitement to fans for years.


Now imagine if you could simply touch an object and absorb its entire history instead of spending hours scouring through Wookieepedia! Granted, you may be trading outstandingly painful headaches in exchange for this gift, but such sacrifices are often necessary in the pursuit of knowledge.


Karr Nuq Sin is one such character who has been blessed with the aforementioned psychometry, and throughout the novel, Force Collector, we follow Karr as he pursues the truth on what actually happened to the fabled Jedi Order in an age where the mythical warriors are little more than legend.


Karr’s journey takes readers through the greatest hits of the Skywalker Saga thus far, but unfortunately, the pacing of the book doesn’t always quite contain the necessary energy to propel the story forward.


PLOT

Force Collector Cover
Force Collector Cover


When we first meet Karr, he appears to be stuck in the most mundane of circumstances. Much like the famed farmboy of Tatooine before him, Karr is constrained by circumstances far beneath his potential. Replace moisture vaporators for the oppressive hallways of a Merokian school, and you can understand how frustrated Karr must be.


However, Karr and Luke differ in one major respect: Karr already knows about the Force, and he can tap into its power.


Building up a small collection of supposedly Jedi-related artifacts has allowed Karr to glimpse miniscule moments of the past, but he yearns for more. Throw in the new girl at school, Maize, whose father just happens to be an officer in the First Order with access to a starship he won’t be using for months, and you have the recipe for a wildly impulsive and life changing adventure. This voyage of self discovery will solidify not only Karr’s impact of the galaxy, but his importance in restoring the legacy of the Jedi.


While it’s ridiculously fun to revisit the familiar planets on Karr’s journey from Utapau to Jakku and beyond, the plot begins to unravel the father the pair of teens travel away from Merokia. Karr’s initial impetus to simply “discover” the secrets of the Jedi works well for the first couple of planets, but by the end of his journey, the stops feel more like a slightly randomized checklist.


This apparent lack of direction is aided by the premature disappearance of Maize after her father discovers her joyriding activities, because with nobody left to corroborate Karr’s apparent plan, we are left with a protagonist who simply decides where he wants to go without any obstacle or consequences.


By the end of the book, Karr’s deeper dive into his own family history holds some juicier meat for us to sink our teeth into, but even the book’s final reveal left me wishing for just a bit more satisfaction. None of this is to say that Karr’s journey across the galaxy isn't enjoyable (I was beaming ear to ear every time they mentioned Kenobi or Skywalker), but for a book with the “Journey to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” banner emblazoned on the cover, you’d hope for just a bit more tension and stakes throughout.


CHARACTERS


Karr Nuq Sin is a fun new addition to the Canon, but like a multitude of the newer novels, the side characters here really step into the spotlight. Maize, Karr’s Mirialan best friend, is written particularly well as she presents a point of view we haven’t really experienced before: the daughter of a First Order officer.


Maize’s attitude towards her father perhaps present more questions than they answer. Her frustration with her family’s constant moving is evident throughout, but her anger at her father appears to stem more from their familial problems rather than his involvement with the First Order as an organization. When she is apprehended by First Order officers during the pair’s excursion across the galaxy, her attitude is that of annoyance rather than the fear that we may assume given the First Order’s previous reputation in the Canon.


While this insight into Maize’s life is fascinating, her deeper character analysis is cut off too early when her father’s subordinates take her back home and leave Karr and his trusty medical droid, RZ-7, to finish out the journey alone. Shinick’s choice to divert Karr to a more solitary path so early in the novel was one that seems to rob us of some additional depth with Maize, and despite their brief reunion near the book’s conclusion, I would have loved to see their relationship grow.

If more time was dedicated to some of these side characters rather than solely within Karr’s mind, perhaps his evolution could have had an even deeper impact by the end of the book.

Aside from Karr and Maize, Force Collector is littered with a number of relatively unimportant side characters that play host to Karr on his trip (including a particularly enjoyable shop owner on Utapau), but the other co-stars would have to be the aforementioned droid RZ-7 and Karr’s grandmother, J’Hara. RZ-7 continues the Canon tradition of hilariously opinionated droids, but as opposed to K2SO and Pook before him, RZ appears to be more interested in actually helping Karr rather than playfully berating him.


J’Hara, on the other hand, acts as Karr’s mentor at the start of the story. Her calming words of wisdom don’t always hit home in the young boy’s mind, but her legacy stays with him throughout the book, and it’s really fun to see him follow her lessons long after her passing. 


If more time was dedicated to some of these side characters rather than solely within Karr’s mind, perhaps his evolution could have had an even deeper impact by the end of the book.


ORIGINALITY


While we do have a rudimentary history with psychometry thanks to characters like Quinlan Vos and Cal Kestis, Force Collector explores the ability with an entirely new level of devotion and examination. Shinick’s descriptions of Karr’s visions expanded my understanding of a singular Force ability in ways that I haven’t seen since the Darth Bane trilogy, and that effort is to be wildly commended. 


Karr’s continual reflections also harkened back to some of Obi-Wan’s meditations back in his own novel. The idea of legacy has always been ripe within the Star Wars universe, and as we near the end of the Skywalker Saga, that was clearly at the forefront of Shinick’s mind. In a way, his reverence for the stories that came before allowed him to bring out an original sort of story in the present. 


WRITING

Author Kevin Shinick
Author Kevin Shinick


At Youtini, we routinely praise the writing prowess of the YA authors in Star Wars. Masters of the craft like Claudia Gray and Rae Carson churn out superb work, because their characters may be younger, but they never use the YA banner to lessen the complexity or richness of their writing style. 


Conversely, Kevin Shinick appears to be batting down just a bit with Force Collector. By no means is the book badly written, and by no means is Shinick an unskilled writer, but the writing lacks a concise direction at times and seems better suited for a book for slightly younger readers. The emotional depths aren’t quite hit to an extent that the book requires, and as stated above, the pacing of the story often isn’t enough to catapult the reader further.


Shinick clearly has an immense amount of love and respect for the universe, and it shines through on every page, but the overall execution doesn’t quite climb the heights that the narrative requires. 


ENTERTAINMENT


When you’re revisiting the greatest hits of the Star Wars Canon, how can you not have a smile on your face? Shinick’s love and respect for key moments in the franchise shine so brightly through Karr’s visions that you can’t help but feel a burning desire to grab your DVDs the second that you close the book.


A personal favorite of mine was Karr’s vision on Utapau. While searching through antiques and artifacts in an old shop run by the son of a clone trooper, Karr stumbles upon one particular item that gifts him with his first look at an actual Jedi. Instantly, both the young man and the reader are transported to the pivotal scene in Revenge of the Sith when Obi-Wan Kenobi learns that General Grievous is indeed holding the native citizens hostage. Obi-Wan’s demeanor is powerful, his robes are flowing, and from this point forward, the Jedi of legend are legends no more.


They were real.


No matter the overall strength of the plot, moments like these strike true to the heart of any Star Wars fan, and the entertainment value of the book soars because of it. This book looks back on the history of the universe we all love so much, and if that isn’t fun...then what is?



AUDIO

Narrator Euan Morton
Narrator Euan Morton


If you’re listening to the audiobook of Force Collector and you can’t stop thinking, “Where have I heard this voice before?” let me help you out. This book is narrated by Euan Morton who has worked on a number of prolific audiobooks, but most recently, Star Wars fans will know him as the voice of Dooku in Cavan Scott’s wildly popular Dooku: Jedi Lost earlier this year.


Perhaps it is a testament to Morton’s earlier work to admit that I felt a sense of evil surrounding Karr until I realized that it was actually Count Dooku who was reading the book to me. His performance in Dooku: Jedi Lost was so iconic to me that I honestly had a difficult time separating his narrating voice from that of the fallen Jedi, so if you’ve had the same past experience, be prepared to adjust your mental moral compass before diving into Force Collector.


Technically, however, Morton does a great job with the text that he’s given. His voices are well done (particularly the aforementioned clone on Utapau), and his renditions of classic characters in Force visions are close enough to continue the momentum of the story without pulling you out.


Surprisingly, after a run of immaculately produced Star Wars audibooks this year, I found a few of those elements in Force Collector a bit off-putting. At a few points early in the book, there are alarms going off around Karr and Maize that almost make the dialogue inaudible (and is quite intense if you’re wearing headphones), and there is a similarly unpleasant sensation when the pair are calculating the coordinates to the next planet on their journey. While the effects may be technically accurate, the tones are a bit discordant, and sound levels are too high for an effect that lasts so long.


On the whole, you’re still getting an audiobook that has way more bells and whistles than your usual audio fare, but the editing on future projects of this kind could use a bit more fine tuning.



VERDICT


After blazing through Resistance Reborn last month, I was beyond excited to continue the Journey to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker line with Force Collector. I was ready for another book that would build on the momentum of everything that had come before it and carry me all the way until the end of the month.


While Force Collector may not have scratched that particular itch for me, it still presented a fun, nostalgic look at the history of the Skywalker Saga that felt at times like settling into a warm bath. Folks that are looking for breakneck pacing and monumental consequences may want to look elsewhere, but if you want to experience the wonder of journeying through an unknown galaxy on a search for legends and myths, you’ll be right at home with Force Collector.


Final Youtini Score

7.9

Masterpiece

Incredible

Very Good

Good

Okay

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Force Collector reexamines some of the greatest moments in the Skywalker saga but occasionally lacks the kinetic energy to keep the story driving.

Not Yet Reviewed

Don't worry. A review is coming soon.
Plot
75
/ 100
Characters
80
/ 100
Originality
80
/ 100
Writing
75
/ 100
Entertainment
85
/ 100
7.9

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