This review should be a short and sweet. As this is a novelization of the film everyone’s already seen a number of times, I don’t feel I should retread any old ground. If you want to hear what I thought of the film, I wrote both a spoiler free and a spoiler heavy review, which you can find respectively here and here. This book merely cements my love for the film, and the incredible staying quality of the franchise. Alan Dean Foster, who ghost-wrote the original novelization of the 1977 Star Wars film, is now the sole credited author of the new book, and it’s a pleasure seeing him used in this capacity, and showing off all the writing talent he’s always put forth.
One of the primary reasons I chose to dive into this novel was to learn more finely what makes the story tick – to discover the inner weavings splayed out in long-form prose. I find that I do understand the story my acutely, and that’s a must for me when it comes to a new Star Wars film. The Empire Strikes Back was the first live action film I remember sitting all the way through as a kid. And it’s that escape into, not only just a galaxy far, far away, but also childhood that makes these films so special – and the more time I spend there and learn about these characters and settings the better.
But I also hoped to learn more about the extended conversations the characters had in the script that didn’t necessarily make it into the film. I hoped to enjoy some of the deleted scenes, and to understand the areas I was left unsure of before. Well, I got plenty of that. My favorite was probably learning the real reason R2 didn’t wake up until the end of the novel. That really should have remained in the film. As well as the full mission briefing before they went to Starkiller Base. Chewbacca ripping the arm off a particularly nasty alien was also a nice touch. Even giving Poe more scenes.
But there wasn’t enough to rate my experience of the film any higher, and the actual pace of the novel slowed the story for me quite a bit. It really isn’t all that different from the actual film, and although I enjoyed it, I expected a bit more. Still, the novel does add new life to some of the theories I mentioned in a previous post, so if you’re into that speculation, the book is rife with it.