Welcome to Book Reviews. In this series I will look to review any canon books that come out in the Star Wars galaxy as I work my way through them. I am no expert book critic or expert in writing (as you may be able to tell), so this is very much from a fan’s point of view. In each review, I will also try to point out a few “Moments in Canon” – moments that link into the wider canon and references to other canon stories. Today I will be looking at Jason Fry’s The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition
As the novelisation for a movie that has been out for 2 years, I will be a little less strict about avoiding spoilers, however I will try to avoid spoiling too much content from the book that was not in the movie
Whether Leia liked it or not, the Resistance’s greatest strength—its one indispensable asset—it was her.
As with all of the Disney-era movies, a novelisation of the movie was released, this one written by Jason Fry. However, this was the first novelisation to be released a couple of months after the movie, allowing the author to create an “expanded edition” containing scenes that were cut from the movie, alternate versions of the script and other content that the author feels appropriate.
Leia had given everything she had to Alderaan, and then to the Alliance, the New Republic, and now the Resistance.
The story is a novelisation of the events from The Last Jedi. Rey has travelled to Ahch-To to convince Luke Skywalker to train her in the ways of the Force and come back to help the Resistance. Meanwhile, Poe and Leia must protect the fleeing Resistance fleet while Finn and Rose look for a way to get the First Order off the fleet’s trail. Meanwhile, Kylo Ren recovers from his fight with Rey and looks for a way to convince her to come over to his side.
So it’s probably worth saying before I get into my review of the book that I really liked the movie on the whole, which means that this novel had the advantage of me already being invested in the story being told. That said, I think this novel actually made me enjoy the story even more, as it cemented my good feelings on what I had liked from the movie while also helping me get more perspective on sections that I didn’t like as much, which helped me enjoy these sections a little more.
I really think that the way this is written feels very faithful to all of the characters and helps to explain why they have chosen their actions. Luke’s feelings of failure are delved into and you can see how he thinks that cutting himself off and ending the Jedi is the only way – though he can’t bring himself to do it. Rey is in a spot of wanting to find out where she belongs and her feelings about Luke and Kylo are so clear, likewise Kylo, who we see having to try and show his loyalty to Snoke and the dark side, while still struggling to fully commit.
But what if she was something worse? What if she was actually another hostile?
I think that the people who benefit most from this novel are Poe and Finn. I’ve heard a lot of people say that Finn’s arc in The Last Jedi was just a rehash of his arc from The Force Awakens, but this novel makes it clear how he has gone from initially caring about only himself and trying to run away to also caring for Rey and wanting to make sure she is safe, while The Last Jedi then sees him learn that he can’t keep running and that standing and fighting with the Resistance is the way forward. Poe’s anger at Holdo and his eventual mutiny reads so much better in the novelisation, with it being made clear how badly the prolonged chase with no information was hurting the morale of the crew, whereas the movie made it seem a bit more like Poe sulking because he didn’t get his way.
What the novel does really well is add some moments that really bring more to the story, with the opening of the book a real shock (I won’t spoil it but you may have heard about it from all the click-bait articles when the novelisation first came out). In terms of the story itself, I can’t really comment on it too much as Jason Fry had to stick to the story laid out by Rian Johnson, but it was handled well by Fry and his writing never felt like it was bogging down the story or rushing it along. It also did a really good job of giving an explanation to some things that would have been difficult to explain in the movies, like Rey’s ability to quickly pick up how to use the Force coming in part from when Kylo entered her mind in The Force Awakens and she pushed back, causing her to access some of his training.
Should I read it?
“Where are you from?” Luke asked.
“Nowhere,” Rey said, recalling endless days of heat and sand.
“No one’s from nowhere.”
Luke raised and eyebrow. “All right, that is pretty much nowhere. Why are you here, Rey from Nowhere?”
So this probably depends on how you feel about the movie. If you liked the movie, then I think there is a lot to like here. If you feel indifferent about the movie, then this may help you appreciate the story more and see the movie in a new light. If you absolutely hated the movie, then I very much doubt that this would suitably change your opinion.
Moments in Canon
The Falcon had always been cantankerous, its three droid brains quarrelling endlessly unless forced to work together. Still, R2-D2 usually got along with the ship well enough. For one thing, none of the brains could stand C-3PO; for another, one of them had a fondness for both romantic gossip and dirty jokes, both of which R2-D2 had learned to provide in large quantities.
- The ring Rose wears was given to her by her old squadron commander in memory of Paige’s sacrifice
- The shuttles to Crait were hidden from First Order scopes using the bafflers Rose created in Cobalt Squadron
- Black Squadron are said to be off on their own mission, which we see in the Poe Dameron comic series
- The Contingency intended to rebuild the Empire in the Unknown Regions – shipyards, labs and other needs had already been built out there
- Gallius Rax, Rae Sloane and Brendol Hux are described as having been co-opted, sidelined or destroyed by Snoke
- Leia first came across the Crait Rebel base in Leia: Princess of Alderaan, while the Star Wars comic series showed Red Squadron going to the base before Echo Base was set up on Hoth
- Notably, the book referred to the Falcon‘s 3 droid brains ahead of the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, which revealed that one of these brains was L3-37
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…