Friday, January 21, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 4: The Gathering Storm" Review

In episode four, the two timelines we've been seeing for the first three episodes finally connect. I'm happy to have a better idea of how much time was separating the two stories and how it all fits together. It does feel strange, though, because I thought Boba Fett wanting revenge for the Tuskens' deaths had something to do with the "present" of the show, and instead, he seems to have gotten his revenge in this episode. Now I'm even more confused about why we had those flashbacks.

Some moments in this episode were originally from The Mandalorian, such as Fennec Shand being rescued in the desert. We see Boba Fett taking her to have her body modified in order to save her life. While we knew that he saved her, I think this is the first time we learned about the modifications. I appreciated learning a bit more about her, even though it wasn't much.

We see her agree to stay with Boba Fett after he gets his ship back, and there are some hints about her backstory that might be interesting, such as why she seems eager to stay with Boba Fett (though she tries to play it off). I hope we continue to learn more about her because she could be a very interesting character if they continue developing her story.

In an effort to get his armor back, Boba Fett goes looking in the sarlacc pit. Of course, we know that it's not there because we've seen what happened to his armor in The Mandalorian. We also don't see him actually get the armor back in this episode, which makes a certain amount of sense considering that story is in The Mandalorian, but I do think that a viewer would be confused if they watched this episode without having watched The Mandalorian. There has to be some people out there who are in that position, so it feels strange to not explain more to how he actually got the armor back after we see the failure at the sarlacc pit.

In the "present," Boba Fett gathers the planet's other leaders and gets them to agree to be neutral in his conflict with the Pykes. We get a lot of ominous talk about a war brewing, which I assume will be our main focus instead of whatever we were getting with the flashbacks before.

At this point, I'm still not as invested in The Book of Boba Fett as I am The Mandalorian. I'm very confused about where the story is going, especially after all those flashbacks that seem to have little to no impact over what's going to happen going forward. I'm still going to stick it out and see where things go, but I'm not sure I would if this weren't Star Wars. We'll see if things change now that it looks like the episodes won't have flashbacks anymore.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 3: The Streets of Mos Espa" Review

I came to write my review of episode 4 only to realize that this was still sitting here as a draft. I guess I never hit the publish button despite thinking I had, so here's this, which has just been sitting here written for a week!

We're three episodes in now, and the plot seems to be heating up.

Boba Fett gains some new "workers" in this episode. (I honestly don't know how else to refer to them.) They don't say much in this episode, which seems to be a theme with the people he's surrounding himself with. I'm curious about how much we'll actually learn about them as time goes on.

Jabba's twin cousins offer Boba Fett with a gift and say that they're leaving because they don't want war. So, for now at least, it seems like they're not going to be the biggest threat. I do wonder if they'll return later on though, since they were introduced and then only stuck around for two episodes.

We find out that the mayor is apparently working with the Pykes, so the mayor himself might not be the biggest threat either.

This episode also only gives us a quick flashback to the past where we see the Tuskens' village destroyed, which might be a hint to Boba Fett's current motivations. I'm also curious if that means we've seen the last of the flashbacks and are now going to "stick" to the present. I suppose we'll see in the next episode.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Book Review: Whose Names are Unknown by Sanora Babb

Published: January 1, 2004
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Received: purchased through Life's Library
Read from July 19. 2021 to January 9, 2022

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Originally written and slated for publication in 1939, this long-forgotten masterpiece was shelved by Random House when The Grapes of Wrath met with wide acclaim. In the belief that Steinbeck already adequately explored the subject matter, Babb's lyrical novel about a farm family's relentless struggle to survive in both Depression-era Oklahoma and in the California migrant labor camps gathered dust for decades.

Rescued from obscurity by the University of Oklahoma Press, the members of the poor but proud Dunne family and their circle of equally determined friends provide another legitimate glimpse into life on the dust-plagued prairies of the Southwest and in the fertile, but bitterly disappointing, orchards and vineyards of the so-called promised land. Babb, a native of Oklahoma's arid panhandle and a volunteer with the Farm Security Administration in Depression-era California, brings an insider's knowledge and immediacy to this authentically compelling narrative. A slightly less political, more female-oriented, companion piece to The Grapes of Wrath.

Review:

Whose Names are Unknown was one of the Life's Library picks for 2021. The novel was meant to be published in 1939, but when The Grapes of Wrath was published, it was decided that the book was too similar, and it never went to print. It wasn't until 2004, right before Babb's death, that the University of Oklahoma Press finally published the book.

As I haven't read The Grapes of Wrath, I can't judge how similar the two books are, though I admit that it does seem strange to me that two books that focus on something so large in US history would be too similar to exist at the same time does seem strange to me.

The novel focuses on a family during the Great Depression. At the start of the novel, they're living in the Oklahoma panhandle struggling to survive despite frequent dust storms. Later on in the novel, they travel to California to find work.

While I'm not sure exactly how many years the novel covers, we're with the characters for what felt like a long time, and I enjoyed getting to see the same characters for that long. When the family leaves for California, they also leave their neighbors behind, and we don't get to hear much about those characters again, which was sad after spending so much time with them. The characters were the best part of the book for me. I felt very attached and wanted to help them somehow.

This book is far from a quick read. It took me about six months to finish, but that's not because it's long. The only plot the book has is a family trying to survive. While I was very drawn into the family's struggles, it wasn't a story where I was on the edge of my seat and desperately needed to keep reading to see what happened next. My experience felt much more contemplative, and I was comfortable reading it in small doses over a longer period of time instead of flying through it.

The ending of the book is also ambiguous. There's no real closure. At the end of the story, they're still in the midst of the Great Depression, and the characters don't know how they'll survive. You get the sense that it'll be more of the same for a while. That made the characters' suffering feel even more real because there was no easy fix to it.

I did enjoy this book as a slower read. If you want something faster paced, it probably won't be for you, but if a slower book isn't a problem for you, I recommend picking it up.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Book Review: An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz

Published: January 30, 2018
Publisher: Beacon Press
Received: purchased
Read from November 30, 2021 to January 6, 2022

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An intersectional history of the shared struggle for African American and Latinx civil rights

Spanning more than two hundred years, An African American and Latinx History of the United States is a revolutionary, politically charged revisionist history, arguing that Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa—otherwise known as "The Global South"—were crucial to the development of America as we know it. Ortiz challenges the notion of westward progress, as exalted by widely-taught formulations like "Manifest Destiny" and "Jacksonian Democracy," and shows how placing African American, Latinx, and Indigenous voices unapologetically front and center transforms American history into one of the working class organizing themselves against imperialism.

In precise detail, Ortiz traces this untold history from the Jim Crow-esque racial segregation of the Southwest, the rise and violent fall of a powerful tradition of Mexican labor organizing in the 20th century, to May 1, 2006, International Workers' Day, when migrant laborers—Chicana/os, Afrocubanos, and immigrants from every continent on earth—united in the first "Day Without Immigrants" to prove the value of their labor.

Incisive and timely, An African American and Latinx History is a bottom-up history told from the viewpoint of African American and Latinx activists revealing the radically different ways that brown and black people of the diaspora addressed issues plaguing the United States today.

Review:

An African American and Latinx History of the United States is the fourth book in the series ReVisioning American History, which attempts to look at the history of the United States through the lens of groups who have been underrepresented in mainstream history books. This particular book focuses on the history of African American and Latinx people in the US, especially in ways that the two groups' histories intersect.

I'd never read a book that wove together the history of Black and Latinx people in the way this one did, and I enjoyed the (unfortunately) unique view of American history that the book provides. There are many ways in which the two groups have been connected throughout US history, and placing them together in one book really put that into context.

The book focuses a lot on labor and independence movements. I had a basic understanding of a lot of what the book talked about, but I enjoyed learning even more. Because of the timespan that the book, it really helped put what I did know into a larger context than I'd previously considered.

Despite the book being focused on the United States, a lot of the it focuses on the United States' relationship with Latin America. That's not surprising since it's incredibly important to the history of Latinx people in the US, and it's also a very important part of US history that's frequently overlooked.

This book offers a great look at both African American and Latinx history, especially in ways that they intertwine with each other, and I enjoyed getting a look at US history that we often don't.

The Book of Boba Fett "Chapter 2: The Tribes of Tatooine" Review

Episode two of The Book of Boba Fett pulled me in more than the first one, which is essentially what I was expecting as we got deeper into the story. I want to find out where this story is going.

The episode starts in the "present" with Boba Fett as a crime lord. An assassin that was sent to kill him says that it was the mayor who hired him, so Boba Fett and Fennec Shand visit said mayor, who cryptically tells Boba Fett that he has other things to worry about. Sure enough, two cousins of Jabba arrive, wanting to claim Jabba's territory.

I'm curious how big of a threat both the mayor and Jabba's relatives will be. Are they both going to be equal threats as the season progresses? Or will one become more important over the course of the story? As of right now, I find myself more interesting in the mayor than the Hutts, but since we've only seen them each once, that's only a first impression. Who knows how I'll feel after a few more episodes.

After what I think was about fifteen minutes or so in the "present," we go back to the past and stay there for the rest of the episode, which was an interesting decision. The past must have something to do with what's currently happening, but I'm still not sure how. Both timelines take place on Tatooine, so I'm assuming that's part of the connection. I don't know if Jabba is going to show up in the past and do something that makes Boba Fett want to take over his territory or what. Or are the Tuskens going to show up in the "present"?

In the "past," Boba Fett helps the Tuskens take down a train that has been shooting at them. I find his dynamics with the Tuskens odd. I don't really understand why he's helping them when they were holding him prisoner and not even giving him water to drink. It just feels very strange, and I keep waiting to learn more about what his motivations are. Right now he seems to have developed some sort of fondness for them, but that feels very weird considering how they treated him at first.

The weirdest element of this episode is that the Tuskens give Boba Fett a lizard that enters his head and makes him hallucinate. This was...bizarre. A lizard of all things? I have no idea. I don't even know what to say about it.

This episode has drawn me further into the story. I can't say that I'm in love yet, but I am invested in finding out what happens next.