||Has the author hit his stride, or was
I in a better mood while reading this book? There was almost no
exposition, and nobody pauses in a contrived manner to allow the heroes
The author still talks down to his
audience, but also seems to be writing for an older group than in the
last book. This is encouraging, as perhaps the previous book was a
little harder to write, being the first in this series.
This book takes us into Zak's mind,
where Eaten Alive dealt mostly with Tash. The adults behave the same in
both books. In both cases, Hoole doesn't believe them, and doesn't even
investigate, assuming right away that the boy has been getting in
trouble. In both cases, there was no casual evidence after the fact; all
traces had disappeared. There is also a local guide in both cases who is
in on the whole thing, corrupted, who at first appears sympathetic, yet
does nothing to help them. I will never trust the locals in this series
If this series is going to continue
like this, the adults, especially Hoole, must admit that these kids have
a knack for sensing the things that are wrong on the planets they visit,
and drawing them out. I will be very disappointed if Hoole keeps
dismissing their fears in all twelve books. Admittedly, he did agree to
dig up Dr. Evazan, which is a good start.
I don't recall enough of Dr. Evazan's
story in the Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, but I thought he lived
on with the Aqualish for many years, trying to fix the arm cut off by
Obi-Wan. If so, then this tale conflicts with that one -let's assume
that the tale actually finished right before this one picks up...
Evazan is another link in the mystery
that is Hoole, and his connection to the scientists working for the
Empire. Hoole and the mysterious scientist obviously know one another,
and perhaps worked together at one time. Hoole is looking for the other,
while the mysterious character is trying to kill Hoole.
The reason for the stop on Necropolis
is to buy a new starship, lost at the end of Eaten Alive. The planet
cannot, of course, be a normal stop, and Han Solo drops them off with a
shiver! Necropolis has a legend that says if the people forget the ways
of the dead, the dead will rise up in anger. This is just what happens
when Zak is dared to go into the cemetery so that he can join a group of
young people. We are told that Zak feels that these people are true
friends, even though they don't treat him as such. He arrives in the
center of the cemetery, the origin of the curse, in time to see some of
Evazan's zombies rise out of the ground.
Nobody believes him, even when Evazan
himself is killed by Boba Fett. Fett sounded so much like a robot,
and although the mystery and emotionless task of his work seemed well
portrayed, the character seemed a lot less interesting, and more of a
plot device. He does, though, have some funny lines, like when he hates
to have to kill people twice, repeating his work!
Evazan, alive again, eventually kidnaps
Zak. Through the zombie of his new friend, who also died that night in
the cemetery, he injects Zak with the potion that will bring him back to
life after he is killed -buried alive because he is put into a
near-death coma. Strange how nobody could tell that he was still alive,
with all the technology that the Star Wars universe possesses. If Zak's
friend was alive by the same method, who did Evazan possess all of his
faculties, while the other remained a (barely) controlled drone?
Evazan tests his zombies against
Hoole's shape-shifting forms, and then against Boba Fett, who both lose.
Unfortunately, the droid who takes care of Zak and Tash whips up an
antidote that immediately kills the zombies, which comes right out of
the blue. Sure, Deevee is an intelligent droid (with some occasional
funny sarcastic remarks), but this strains credibility, especially with
equipment being constantly damaged by Boba Fett's blasts at the zombies.
Why does there have to be an antidote all the time? He even finds a way to inject it into the soil, leaving us with the
statement that the dead would never bother Necropolis again.
So we have covered being eaten alive,
buried alive, and zombies. There are obviously many more things that
people are scared by, which we will undoubtedly see in the next books.
I liked the way we were able to see the
characters think and act here, for the most part, they were not stupid,
and didn't do too many things out of the ordinary. Zak had a good
explanation for accepting the dare, with his vivid dreams about his
parents, and his wish to revive them with the "curse".
Thankfully, we got rid of almost all
mention of the skimboard, but Zak still has his jargon phrase "prime",
akin to "wizard" in The Phantom Menace.
On another note, do we really have to end every single chapter with a
These two kids must have really great
stomachs. People die around them all through these books, and they
barely bat an eye. Sure, they cried when Zak's friend was murdered, but
when the Crypt keeper falls dead at their feet, they make "oh, well"
motions! Presumably, they never saw people die before the ones in
At the end of the last book, the
problem was solved as the planet seemed to devour itself, yet we saw
another of its kind appear at the end -possibly just to scare us. This
time, Zak exhibits the strange twitch that was evidence of the
re-animation process Dr. Evazan used to create his army. Will we
see a follow-up on either of these? The title of the next book indicates
that perhaps Zak will cause a plague, but I doubt it. More likely, it is
the scientist's third step in his ultimate weapon, as Hoole's niece and
nephew destroy them one after another!