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 Alan Dean Foster’s The Force Awakens
As the novelisation for a movie that has been out for a few 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
Jakku’s son had burnt him, dehydrated him and tormented him—but it had not beaten him.
The novel recounts the story of The Force Awakens with a few extra scenes included. Unsurprisingly, the main points of view are the ones that you would expect from watching the movie.
From a movie that was very good came a book that was… less so. I hate to be negative but this novel really disappointed me and I can’t help wonder if it is part of what led to more recent novelisations coming out after the movie.
Was he worthy of such a gift? Only time and circumstance would tell.
Aside from 1 storyline in the middle of the book and a couple of scenes that were cut from the movie but made it into the deleted scenes, the novel is very much just a retelling of what we see onscreen, but written by someone who had been given a semi-detailed description of what would be said and done. Everything felt different, to the point that every other line felt like it had been expanded from the movie into the novel, as well as the addition of some lines that certainly hinted to more than we ended up seeing, such as Kylo apparently knowing who Rey was the moment she used the Force to call the lightsaber into her hand. There is also a scene that frankly just doesn’t fit in canon now of Poe and Rey introducing themselves, which was shown on-screen in The Last Jedi (though I do consider this a mistake by Rian Johnson rather than Alan Dean Foster).
The characters themselves are written well and faithfully, while we also get to see why Unkar Plutt was so keen to get BB-8 on Jakku. Had the actions and words spoken by the characters been more faithful, then I think that this could have been a good (but not great, due to the limited extra material) novelisation. That said, I often felt that the story felt more like a sci-fi novel than the space fantasy feeling you usually get from Star Wars. Again, it may not have been such an issue in another story, but I really noticed it in this one.
“Luke Skywalker? I thought he was just a myth.”
In terms of the story itself, it’s hard to really comment much here as it is limited in the story it can tell by the movie itself, though the one new storyline that we get didn’t really resonate with me too much and didn’t really go the full way in answering the question I believe it was trying to answer (SPOILER: What happened to Poe between crashing on Jakku and the Battle of Takodana?).
Was it a bad story? No. But the constant differences to the movie stopped me getting fully into it in the way that even some other books I haven’t liked managed to do.
Should I read it?
The home of the New Republic had become a new binary system: one utterly devoid of life.
I would never say to avoid it, but if you have seen the movie and the deleted scenes, then you’re really not missing much. An alternate version of the other storyline I mentioned is included in the comic Poe Dameron 26, so I would personally recommend getting the Poe Dameron series as a whole over getting this book.
Moments in Canon
- Rey has studied all kinds of ships while on Jakku
- Korr Sella goes to Hosnian Prime rather than Leia, as Leia knows she would be killed if she went to the Republic
- Snap Wexley’s recon to find Starkiller Base is prompted by the Hosnian Cataclysm rather than following the First Order forces leaving Takodana
Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you…