Reader Review: Chocolate Wars

There’s an old saying that states imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Of course, there’s another saying that states parody is the lowest form of comedy. Since I’ve never put much stock in old sayings, I leave it to you to decide if either are true.

Honestly, who throws a baby out with bathwater?

While I may not pay much mind to things the ever ephemeral “they” always seem to be saying, I do have a deep seated love of parody. It’s not an easy thing to do right, as can be seen by the Scary Movie franchise, that attempts to be parody, but just comes off as crass. When it is done right, by the likes of such comics as Stephen Colbert, it is an almost transcendent experience.

I mean, come on, he did it so well, Republicans actually thought he was really one of them for a long time. That’s not just comedy, it’s almost art.

The thing about parody is that it is, ultimately, a form of comedy, and like all things, comedy is highly subjective. Some people will love it, while others won’t. This reminds me of another classic saying, and one that I find I actually have to agree with. You can’t make everybody happy.

Pissing everyone off, naturally, is easy. I’ve always been better at that, anyway, and learned a long time ago to just not bother trying to make folks happy. Most never seem to appreciate it anyway.

All of which brings me, in the most roundabout way possible, to my latest read, Chocolate Wars, by Joseph Hagen.

Chocolate WarsWhile it is obviously a parody of Star Wars, and in that, it is pretty darn good, it sort of goes a step further and actually makes an effort to be it’s own thing as well. Personally, I find it managed that a bit better.

Unlike Star Wars, which is set in a far away galaxy, long ago, Chocolate Wars is set in a dimension close to our own, and while familiar, is still very different. There, the evil lord Sakarin is attempting to take over the Milky Way galaxy, opposed by the Wonkka Alliance, and the powerful Chedi, users of the sacred Fudge.

I am totally not making any of that up. Someone else did. It’s kind of a relief, actually, as some of the stuff I make up is weird enough. I take an odd comfort in knowing there’s someone as strange as me in the world.

Anyway…

As a parody of Star Wars, the resemblances are kept pretty minimal. There’s the obvious stuff, with the Chedi and the Fudge, but past that, Joseph Hagen lets the story be it’s own thing, and that is what really lets it be a fun read. Rather than try to make the plot and story beats fit the Star Wars movies, he weaves his own plot, creating something that is only a parody on the surface.

It’s kind of like a chocolate covered cherry. You get the sweet milky chocolate on the surface, familiar as it is, while the inside has a new, rich, and different flavor.

I actually just wrote that, didn’t I?

Moving on…

The first part of a five part serial, Sweet Destiny focuses mainly on the efforts of a couple of Chedi to capture Wardo the Nutt, a former allie of the Wonkka Alliance who has betrayed them and joined the Empire for reasons unknown. During this attack on his stronghold, most of the first installment is used to introduce us to our main characters, Duke, Hagjo, and Schan, as well as do a bit of world building.

There’s also so much word play, it’s crazy. All of this is interspersed with random facts about the galaxy, both past and present, giving more than few reasons to snicker (see what I did there?) while also managing to bring a tone of actual seriousness.

It’s crazy, funny, weird, and very well written, is what I’m getting at here. Just a really fun read, at least for people with a good sense of humor, and those who know how to not take things too seriously. Which, actually, is pretty important. If you got angry at William Shatner’s recent run of poking fun at Star Wars on Twitter, you may want to avoid this. If you laughed, like I did, go pick Chocolate Wars up and enjoy.

I promise, it’ll melt in your mouth, not in your hands.

That promise is totally not binding.

You can grab it over at Amazon, and check out Joseph Hagen on Facebook.

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