Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paradise Snare...The Review

Okay, so Zyra and I both finished ‘The Paradise Snare’ this week.  We don’t plan on keeping up a book per week schedule, but it happened - so here is my review for ‘Snare’.  Zyra will certainly add her comments, I’m sure.

At the start of the book we meet Han Solo as an 18 or 19 year old orphaned boy who has been living under the thumb of a cruel shyster who collects kids and uses them for various schemes and rip offs.  There is a mention of perhaps a previous escape attempt by Han and the severe beating that he got in return.  I know when people are kidnapped or held hostage it is very difficult for them to leave especially when they don’t know anything different, as in the case of the very young Han Solo.  BUT, I just couldn’t help thinking that at 18 or 19 years old, Han would’ve escaped already.  Add to that, the first chapter just read like Han was a lot younger than 19 years old.  To me, he sounded more like fourteen and I would've rathered it that way. 

I don’t plan on delving into each chapter like this, but for me, Chapter One was very disappointing and I was not looking forward to reading the rest of the book after I finished it.  And we’re not done with Chapter One yet.  I had always heard of Dewlanna, a ‘motherly’ type Wookiee that had taken care of Han.  Well, we barely get to meet her and she meets her demise while trying to help Han escape from Garris Shrike. 

I know that the loss of Dewlanna was supposed to be a very pivotal moment in Han’s life, but the entire thing was a disappointing to me.  We really had no emotional investment in this character yet whatsoever.  And then Han swears an oath to her 'to help her kind', which was just a cheap, blatant foreshadowing to his relationship with Chewie, IMO.  Unfortunately, that just prepares the reader for the over-the-top foreshadowing that the author, I guess, felt was necessary to tell Han’s childhood story. 

Okay, so that was Chapter One and I was about ready to just not read anymore (but, in the end, I’m glad I did).  The most moving part of Chapter One was the hints of Garris Shrike's abuse.  Han's horrible life up until this point that we meet him really did pull at my heartstrings.  The good thing about Chapter One?  He does escape and heads to a planet named Ylesia for a pilot’s job.

Chapter Two and beyond…

Okay, so now we get some flashbacks to Han's childhood and his first meeting Dewlanna.  We find out that she is the one that found out his last name for him (which he didn’t know) and with that information, Han escapes and tries to find his family (I wish I would've known that a few pages ago, maybe I would've cared more about her death).  He finds the dysfunctional Sal-Solo family instead (a relation) and it does not go very well for him.  It is hinted that Han actually had a nice life and family, which makes me want to find out what happened to them (but I don't think we ever do - ever).  

It isn’t until Chapter Three that Han makes it to his destination and lands the pilot job that he had hoped for.  He finds a strange cult of factory workers that make illegal drugs during the day and get some kind of spiritual fix at evening ceremonies.  Han is able to fend off the mind-altering experience that the 'pilgrims' undertake as he attends the 'ceremony."

Han gets assigned a bodyguard who shadows him at all times, complicating Han's thoughts of escaping once he gets enough money.  Han’s deepest wish is to join the Imperial Academy and become an officer.  He talks to his new bodyguard and we start to find out that he is searching for his missing soul mate.  Somewhere in here, he tours the drug making factory and meets a female worker, ‘Pilgrim 921’, that we all know is Bria, but Han doesn’t yet. 

Well, Han looks up Bria and talks to her.  He finds out that she studied archeology and wanted to be a museum curator.  He goes on his first job and is attacked by pirates but does some fancy maneuvering; shooting down one ship as the other pirate escapes and Han's bodyguard gets knocked unconscious and needs medical attention.  I will say that as soon as the author put Han behind the controls of a space ship, he sounded more like Han than he had ever before.  

Han has to find a nearby planet to get medical help for his bodyguard and have his ship worked on.  Guess what the nearest planet was?  Alderaan, and when Han approaches the planet he watches a welcome video that includes Bail Organa and his young princess daughter.  Han contemplates selling his illegal cargo and claiming to his employers that the pirates took it, but he is unable to offload it in honest Alderaan where nobody does the drugs he’s selling.  Han finds himself on the Alderaanian University campus and flirts with a college girl a little bit on his way back to his ship.  He shows some animosity towards the affluent college students who are his same age but living such a different life.  I found that very believable.  In the end, his copilot recovers and Han is rewarded when he returns to Ylesia with his cargo still in tow (his employers expecting him to swindle them).

Okay, so Han finds out that the Ylesia slaves are sent off to other worlds once they are totally broken, which usually takes about a year.  How long has his new friend Bria been there?  Yep, almost a year.  He does meet with his bosses to request that Pilgrim 921 (Bria) be hired as a curator of the high priest’s artifacts and she gets removed from the drug making and starts working in the admin building.  She is still totally committed to this false religion though.

Han finally helps Bria realize that she is being duped by the priests and…she slaps him.  Nice girl.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Han delivers a note to a rival Hutt (yeah, the Hutts are involved in all this illegal drug making/trafficking – go figure).  Meanwhile, while Han is gone, Bria is being forced to marry someone else and Han's bodyguard (Muuurgh) – being left behind because he is still recovering – finds out that his mate is on Ylesia and that she is to be shipped to Kessel to work the spice mines the next day.  Setting it up so that everything will have to happen when Han returns.

Han returns and Bria is a sniveling whiny baby throughout their entire escape.  But they do escape and steal some very expensive items to sell and get Han into the Academy.  He and Bria bring Muuurgh and his mate to their homeworld and stick around to see them get married.  Han and Bria finally confess their love to one another with Bria saying ‘I know’.  Blah!  It wasn’t exactly like the exchange between Han and Leia, but did they really have to go there?  And Han is referred to as “scruffy” at least 3 or 4 times in this book.  Really?

So now it’s just Han and Bria and they go to Corellia to see her parents and to sell what they stole during their escape.  Han is not very welcomed by Bria’s wealthy family, except her father seems to like him okay, but you can tell that he isn’t in charge of his household anyway.  Han sells their stolen items and has the money sent to Coruscant under a ‘clean’ alias that he has.  Huh, go figure, he doesn’t get all his money in big heavy green containers…

Han and Bria leave Corellia with fears that Bria’s mother and brother are going to call CorSec officers on Han.  Bria is still struggling with her addiction to the ‘exultation’ she is used to receiving every night on Ylesia.  Han runs into trouble when he tries to get his money on Coruscant and basically is unable to.  He returns to Bria and vows to get a job and somehow get into the Academy.

Bria leaves Han with a bunch of money from her father and a “Dear Han” letter.  She says she has to fight her addiction and wishes him the best and hopes to see him again someday.  Han takes the money and goes through a retinal surgery and some other things to finally get his identity as Han Solo and apply to the Academy.  He applies to the Academy and goes through a rigorous qualifying process but finally makes it.  

Celebrating the night that he finds out he made it into the Academy he runs into none other than Garris Shrike along with a bounty hunter.  The most horrific thing is that Garris Shrike teases Han with the identity of his parents to try and get Han to let him live.  Han stands over him and contemplates killing the man that terrorized his childhood, but the choice is taken away from him when the Bounty Hunter does the job for him, killing Shrike and I guess – any hope of ever finding out what happened to Han's family.  And then Han ends up having to kill the bounty hunter. 

The book ends with him starting at the Academy.  While most of the other new cadets are being wished well by their family, Han stands alone.  He thinks of Dewlanna and Bria and overall I felt really proud of him at that moment.

After such a rocky start with Chapter One, I really ended up enjoying the book.  I personally don’t think that Han had to have such a horrible life and I wouldn’t have given it to him, but overall, he ended up being the lovable character that I knew.  I was disappointed that Bria was a psycho spice addict, but I can understand how Han may have been endeared to her.  If their relationship ended here, I don’t think I would have a real problem with her.  We all knew that Han had other girlfriends and she would’ve just been another, maybe one that particularly hurt him, but that’s all.  But since I know that she isn’t gone and she gets involved with the Rebellion and all that, I don’t like that or her.

My rating for this book is 3 out of 5 stars for Han/Leia factor.  Of course, Leia isn’t in it, so it starts off at a disadvantage, but it’s all about Han so that’s pretty cool.  It isn’t a ‘feel good’ book, in fact, I felt pretty bad after I finished it.  It is really sad, especially to think that Han had such a hard life.  But throughout the book he was a fighter and he always wanted to help other people and that is Han.

So, that’s my very long opinion of this book.  Please chime in if you’ve read it or have anything to say.

Next Book:  “The Hutt Gambit”


  1. It was interesting reading this one for the second time and getting both Push's first time perspective and my re-read opinion. I will say that I read this book probably in 1999, or not long after it came out, whenever that was. I remembered some of the details but overall I remember coming away knowing that overall I liked it, all three of these books, in spite of intense hatred of Bria and feeling like there were several things in the books that made it seem like stuff that happened later between Han and Leia were just echoes of Han's past relationship with Bria. But anyway...

    I hadn't noticed the sort of young feel of the beginning. I disagree here with Push on Han sounding young, but overall in the first chapter it didn't sound like HAN to me. And the writing itself seemed juvenile early on. I wondered if maybe the author purposely wrote it that way so that as Han aged and matured the writing did as well. But who knows?

    It does start off pretty quick with Dewlanna dying and it's hard I guess to care that much although the fact that she sacrificed herself for him made me like her even in that quick instant. I guess I don't have as hard a time with Han's tragic childhood, either. Maybe it's laziness of having to think up my own alternative. But it does give you a lot of reasons as to why Han winds up so smart as far as figuring stuff out, such a good pilot, knowing lots of languages and really being able to deal with almost anyone in any situation. And I don't know, I just don't see Han growing up with a nice family. But maybe it's just because I never knew any different.

    The writing does switch and works fine really from then on. I'll honestly say that on the second read his whole relationship with Bria didn't bother me nearly as much as it did the first time I read this book. I still don't really understand what he sees in her other than the fact that she's pretty, although as a 19-year old guy, that's probably all he really needs, right? They also allude to the fact that even before Bria there had already been quite a few girls in his life. I guess I just don't see Han wanting to deal with all of that drama of the fact that she's basically a drug addict in a cult. But whatever. He also calls her honey way too much. I've never known any guy around 20 who constantly calls his girlfriend honey. But I guess Han is not your average guy.

  2. ...cont'd...

    As for the foreshadowing, scruffy was definitely overused, but used by quite a few people, actually. The "I know" thing was used differently here. I think that was one of the moments that infuriated me the first time I read it, but this time it didn't bother me so much because she said it because he was having trouble getting the words out at all, but in the same sort of way that he says it to Leia later. As Push said, if their relationship ended there, it wouldn't be a big deal. The real problem comes in future books. But that will be another review.

    I did enjoy my second read of this and refreshing my memory on Han's past. It's fun to read him as a young man who is basically on the run and just trying to make a living and stay one step ahead of anyone who might be looking for him. He just wants to make a decent life for himself but he feels he needs to use less than honest ways to start out. It at least shows that he has ambition and of course that he loves to pilot.

    Oh, and the other annoying thing is already in this book it gets alluded to that Han and Bria had sex on at least two specific occasions. That might tie Han and Leia in the entire rest of the EU. But the good here outweighs the bad, and like Push, I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

  3. "Han finally helps Bria realize that she is being duped by the priests and…she slaps him. Nice girl. That’s all I have to say about that."

    Yes, that's why I actually sort of liked her. I'm impressed that she had the guts to slap him. Anyway, in response to Zyra's review, when did they insinuate sex? (Haven't read it recently enough to remember exactly)

    I'm surprised neither of you brought up Muuurgh much. Despite being assigned to Han as a "bodyguard" and being described as feline, I thought he was way too much like Chewie. And maybe he wasn't, but that's what I kept thinking. The book - all three, actually - were decent, but waaaaaay too much foreshadowing and similarities to the movies. Who said that his childhood had to go the same as the rest of his life?

  4. There was supposed to be a :P in there somewhere after the slapping bit.

  5. I guess I'm just used to Han always needing some sort of copilot or whatever. It even happens later after Chewie dies when he has Droma for a while. I guess they were at first going to make him a more major character to take Chewie's place, but fortunately they had Leia take his place instead!

    As for insinuating sex, it was VERY subtle, like G-rated we can't REALLY mention it obviously but if you read between the lines.... First time was on the beach when they kiss and then it just said, "After that they didn't speak for a long time..." It kind of said almost the exact same thing later on, they were in their hotel room the night before she leaves him actually, I think. Just starts with them kissing a lot and then again says that they didn't talk for a while. They're not 12-year olds kissing, so... well, you have to kind of think that was what they were talking about.

  6. They're not 12-year olds kissing on that asteroid either...

  7. as far as the sex part; there's also a bit in there where it says that Han had plans that involved them being locked in his cabin or something but decides she needs a friend now not a lover and he'd just have to be patient so the implication is the beach is when things change. also there is some mild allusion to it when they go visit her family, they all basically assume they're "more than friends" nudge nudge wink wink.

    I had to go back nad check how old he was supposed to be at the beginning, I sort of got the feel that the older he got the tighter control Shrike kept over him. but I thought the Han we know would have tried to take off sooner. also it was sort of backwards how Delwanna dies and then we find out how much she meant to him.

    the whole I know bit really annoyed me this time around, not so much the first time I read it. I just don't get what he sees in Bria. she's a big wimp until after she leaves him.

    it was ok and I liked him trying to make his life better. but a lot of the book didn't feel like the "real" Han to me.

  8. I agree with it not feeling like the 'real' Han, although as the book wore on it seemed to improve. I don't get what he saw in Bria other than she was a girl and he was 18 years old, which you know, happens. And the Dewlanna thing, I wish they would've had the flashbacks before they had her death scene, it would've been more moving that way, IMO. But I still think his pledge to 'help her kind' was

  9. If you look at trying to cram Han's whole life into this one book, from birth... or whatever after he remembers until he's 18 or 19, then it's tough to start from the "beginning" and stuff in all of this early stuff and jump to when he escapes. Think of it as seeing Han "free" from the beginning and filling in the details later. Otherwise the rest of the stuff could've come across as more rushed and very jumpy. It doesn't follow a cohesive timeline, it's just a few, memorable incidents.

    As for them not being 12-year olds on that asteroid, well, they didn't have Threepio to interrupt them on that beach. And nobody was planning on leaving anytime soon.

  10. This has nothing to do with the book (sorry) but I just found a picture on f***yeah Han and Leia from a blue milk special. Push, if you haven't seen it yet, I think you'll like it. I wish I could paste it here.

    Han, Leia, Chewie and 3po are trying to leave Hoth. When Leia asks if it would help if she got out and pushed, Han says it might just like in the movie, so in the next scene Leia is outside pushing the Falcon. It's really funny. ; )

  11. Thanks for the heads up, Emma. I did see that and just loved it! This is the url:

    for anyone else that is interested.

  12. Well, this is my first foray into the EU with the exception of Brian Daley's Han Solo Adventures trilogy, which maybe isn't considered canon IIRC. I think 3 or maybe 3.5 stars, too. Here's the thing: since I haven't read anything else in the EU, I don't have personal issues with Bria at this time. That having been said, it is kind of annoying how Han talks to Pilgrim 921 like twice, and then, wham, he realizes he cares about what happens to her as much as he does about himself, or some such line. Wait a second... why? Just a couple chapters earlier, we learned that Han couldn't allow himself to care much about others: "it was self-preservation, and Han was very, very good at it."

    I mean, if we had gotten to spend a bit of time with her first so we could see what he saw in her, okay, and as some of you have pointed out, he was like 18, so infatuation was perfectly possible. But please, a little more fuel for this fire!

    As for the intimacy between them, it was very clear. The morning Bria leaves him, he recalls how she had held him "with such passion" and realizes it was because she knew it was the last time. But that's about as explicit as it gets.

    Overall, the story was okay, the writing was okay, even the Chewie-substitute Muuurgh was okay, but that's because we were back in the Star Wars universe, and I'll forgive some silliness for the sake of reading about one of my favorite characters. I did enjoy the book for that reason. If it had been about Lando, say, I certainly wouldn't have bothered. As it is, I do plan to feed my Han obsession by continuing with the next novel in the series.

    1. Hey, welcome to the blog. I'm glad you liked the review and you are so right in your points. The entire relationship seems based on nothing. But again, he's 18.

      I hope you stick around for a while and feel free to use some of these book reviews to choose the best books to read!