I think there are too many colons in the title of this post, but such is life.
Just now I finished reading Aftermath: Life Debt. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It builds upon the story of Aftermath, but takes the story in different directions. Here are some observations:
1. The present-tense writing style bugged me a little bit in the first novel; in this one, I hardly noticed it. For me, first-person point of view is much more distracting.
2. I like the new characters, and it was fun to see them develop even more in this book. Even so, it was good to see more of familiar characters, especially Wedge, Leia, Chewie and Han.
3. It pleased me that the scale of this novel was bigger. While the focus of the first one was largely the events taking place on Akiva, this one focuses on Kashyyyk--a story that's been waiting to be told, and this one doesn't disappoint. While it took almost half the book to introduce the Han-and-Chewie shenanigans for which I was waiting, said shenanigans were worth the wait.
4. There are more of the Interludes that show what's happening around the galaxy. With the first novel, those were a big part of the drive to read it quickly, since they provided the first (newly) official details about what happens after Return of the Jedi. This time around, while I was intrigued by these glimpses and the hints that they might provide to other stories, I also felt impatient; I wanted to go back to the main story to see how it developed.
5. Rae Sloane is my favorite character to come out of the new canon. She's tough and smart, and makes a much better villain than many in the old books.
6. This book ties a lot more into Episode 7. I don't want to spoil things, but there are some details that I'm eager to discuss with others once they've read it.
7. It's no surprise that the novel to finish this trilogy, Empire's End, will tie into the Battle of Jakku. That means, I think, more connections and an explosive finish. I wish I didn't have to wait half a year for it. What is more, it's interesting to see how the novels in a more regulated Star Wars universe connect to each other. A character (Sloane) who appeared in A New Dawn has risen to importance, and events first introduced in Lost Stars are going to provide a climax. This feels much more orderly than the old Expanded Universe, where a lot of the character development happened retroactively. (For example, Prince Xizor became a lot more believable in the stories released after Shadows of the Empire, even though he was killed in that debut novel.)
8. Finally, I'm intrigued to see how much of this hints at developments that we'll see in Episode 8. While Lost Stars and other books in the Journey to The Force Awakens had some clues, it feels like this has many more. Time will tell, I guess.