I guess you could call me a curious cynic… I’m willing to try new things, but you may hear some grousing and see a grumpy face from me in this review. Although I continue to say I’m here for the stories, I gave this novel a bit of the side-eye when I first saw it. So much of our Star Wars experience these days develops over several media. Whether it’s a show on Disney+ or a video game on XBOX, we love to immerse ourselves in the Galaxy we all love. But this book is new territory for me and the Star Wars/ Disney brand… As you probably know, Batuu is a physical place where fans can have an experience in person at Disneyland and Disney World. How does this affect my enjoyment of this media? Could I get the smug look off my face long enough to soak up some lore of this Outer Rim planet? As a person who has repeatedly said that I’ll read any SW story and to keep your Disney/ canon conflicts away from me, I tried my best to keep an open mind.
The Travelers Guide to Batuu has the depth in information and the solid graphic design that you’ll find in most full-color Star Wars guides. This book takes the reader on a tour of this backwoods planet full of miscreants and scoundrels. There are maps, lists of places to visit, and so much information of local culture. Politics, history, practical tips for travel, in-depth exploration of Black Spire Outpost, and an FAQ/ Quick Reference Guide. All these details add up to Rick Steves-like experience, but instead of the castles of Europe, we get the Star Wars universe!
My derisive nature stayed away enough for me to really enjoy this book, but it did creep back in when thinking about access to Disneyland and DisneyWorld. I like the idea of experiences being open to all fans and I think books and films allow a good number of people to witness the SW magic. And a short tangent: Is Disney cleaning up or organizing the canon and is the expansion of the brand going to help it reach a broader audience? A lot of questions and opinions can be flashed about in response to this examination… I think this Batuu and books like this are a good test for the Disney brand because it crosses the line to a new and unique experience, one that honestly I was reluctant to try before reading this book.
My verdict is that the Traveler’s Guide to Batuu passes the test. It combines a design style that I have come to enjoy through Star Wars, DK and now with Quirk Books, with great insight. I see this book acting as both a pseudo-advertisement for DLand and a good souvenir to pick up to remember the experience.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, Quarto Publishing, and the author for an advanced copy for review.