Thursday, 14 January 2016

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', by Alan Dean Foster

Title: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Author(s): Alan Dean Foster
Release Date: 18th December 2015 (ebook), 1st January 2016 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Century
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Bought

Synopsis:
Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.

So return to that galaxy far, far away, and prepare yourself for what happens when the Force awakens. . .

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{Note: This review is completely spoiler free, for both the movie and the book!}
 
This was the first time I read a movie novelization and it made for a very interesting experience. As you might have gathered from one of my reviews earlier this month, I have been diving into the world of Star Wars novels and this one surely could not escape my attention.

I must say that Alan Dean Foster's writing style initially took some getting used to. The narration of this book is done in an omniscient, omnipresent way, which sometimes lacked consistency; either you know absolutely everything that is going on, up to facial expressions of people wearing helmets, or there are details that are simply not disclosed. This evidences a writing more adequate for screenwriting than for writing a novel, but while some people might take it as a flaw, considering the type of book this is I can't regard it as anything else than a better, simpler way to transmit vital information.

Story wise, you won't find much more in this book than you will in the movie. Most of the chapters are literal transcriptions of scenes from the movie, with the occasional extension of dialogue or wording alteration. However, the little extra that is there, provides a great deal of subtext and can fuel quite a lot of theories regarding characters and future plot arcs. While I did hope to find some more original content (since, after all, when a book is adapted into a movie there are quite a lot of changes made and things that don't make the cut, so doing the reverse process could allow for that expansion), I understand the need to stick close to the source material. Also, since the book was released concurrently with the movie, the parallel timeline would not allow for much digression as the movie was still being edited.

There is a nice touch of an addition halfway through the book of eight pages filled with movie stills. As most people will read the book after watching the movie they will be more than familiar with the characters and their physical appearance, but still, it was a good surprise to see upon opening the book for the first time!

I feel like I need to add a paragraph to this review solely dedicated to my favorite character of this movie/book: the villain, Kylo Ren. Long behind us are the days (*cough*prequels*cough*) when we got 'one movie villains' that barely had a line or any development (I'm looking at you, Darth Maul). He is such a layered, intricate character and if there is someone that the book really digs more into, that would be him. If, like me, you have found yourself in a position of questioning your own sanity and moral values because you have acquired a new problematic fave, then please take a seat and read this book. You will not be disappointed.

Also, there are full sections from the point of view of everyone's favorite droid, BB-8. You definitely want to read that!

In the end, movies and books being two very different ways of telling a story, I believe this achieves the task of giving us the best of both worlds. The movie provides us with the visual 'amazing-ness' that is the return to the Star Wars Universe and the main storytelling device, while the book gives us more context, a look into the characters minds which is not possible to perceive visually, and scenes that in the movie would not make much sense but allow us to understand better what happened during certain parts of the movie.

I would definitely recommend picking up this book if you have already watched 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens'. At the very least, it will keep you busy and feed that Star Wars craving for the almost year and a half that we have ahead of us before Episode VIII!


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