This a review of the audiobook version of Ahsoka, written by E.K. Johnston and narrated by Ashley Eckstein. There will be minor spoilers.
Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston is a young adult novel spotlighting Ahsoka Tano of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. When Ahsoka was first introduced in The Clone Wars movie (2008), she was greeted with some level of derision by fans who thought her “Skyguy” and “Artooie” routine was a bit too cute for Star Wars. Fast forward eight years, and Ahsoka is one of the most beloved characters in Star Wars — ever. Quite an accomplishment! So, it was no surprise when the announcement of a full-length Ahsoka Tano novel was met with much praise and anticipation. Ahsoka has now been released — does it meet expectations? Yes. It absolutely does. Exceedingly.
I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version of Ahsoka (you can read a review of the physical book here). I’m not one to listen to audiobooks on a regular basis. I’m a ‘book-in-my-hot-little-hands’ type of gal. However, I leapt at the chance to have the story of Ahsoka Tano’s time in the aftermath of Order 66 told to me by said character. Yes, the Ashoka audiobook is narrated by Ashley Eckstein, the life-breath of the character herself. Ashley brings an authenticity to the story that might not have been there if someone else had taken on the role of narrator. She understands the character completely and brings every nuance we’ve come to recognize in Ahsoka to her narration. She simply is Ahsoka.
Ashley gives voice to all the characters in audiobook, with varying degrees of success. Some sound a bit similar, but it’s not a major issue as far as I’m concerned. She lends an air of honesty to her performance of these characters that makes up for anything she might lack in “doing voices” — if that makes sense.
As I alluded to earlier, the story is set in the year following Order 66. Ahsoka is on the run, believing that all the Jedi she knew (Obi-Wan, Plo Koon…. Anakin) are dead. She can’t feel them in the force when she meditates and is trying to come to terms with the loss, even as her thoughts dwell on them frequently. The story includes several interludes focussing on these characters. Sometimes they involve Ahsoka, sometimes not. Each one is truly moving, which is one of my favorite things about the story E.K. Johnston has woven. We feel along with Ahsoka. We feel the pain of her loss and the loneliness she must endure. It’s a hard life for her, but she’s doing her best to make her way.
While on the run and in hiding, Ahsoka mainly spends her time on two worlds, mostly finding work doing repairs on droids and other mechanical equipment. The first world has an established Imperial presence, but she is still able to find refuge, as long as she doesn’t draw attention to herself. She has taken the name Ashla, which is interesting considering the early treatments for Star Wars referred to the light side of the force as the Ashla (with the Bogan being the dark side). Most recently, the Bendu mentions the Ashla and the Bogan in the season three premiere of Star Wars Rebels. (More on the Ashla here)
The second world is mainly composed of farmers, and Ashoka manages to find her place, while still maintaining a distance. She is no longer a Jedi, but she understands the danger attachments present in her current situation. In due time, however, the Empire descends and Ashoka must decide — fight or flee. She’s becoming weary of fleeing.
One of the things that stuck me was the way Ahsoka has become crucial connective tissue in Star Wars. From the Clone Wars era, through the Rebellion — Ahsoka has left her mark on so many. It’s next to impossible to imagine the saga without her. Ahsoka honors that legacy.
While the novel/audiobook is designated as young adult, it is more than suitable for adults. I’m 47 going on 48 and loved it! Don’t let the category put you off. Also, the quality of the audiobook presentation is top-notch. Sound effects and familiar musical cues enhance, never detract. Ashley’s narration is clear and emotive and generally pure joy to listen to.
My rating for the audiobook version of Ashoka: An enthusiastic 5 out 5!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing the audiobook for review purposes.Powered by Sidelines