Author: Rae Carson
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 247 pages
EE Critic Score: 6/10
This novelization of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was written by Jason Fry and was released in March of 2020, a few months after the film.
I’m going to skip any synopsis since this is just a retelling of a film I’ve already reviewed.
Rae Carson’s biggest previous work on Star Wars was the Solo tie-in Most Wanted (which is a pretty good read that expanded a lot on the Corellia we see at the beginning of that film. Check it out, especially if you were a fan of Qi’ra.) and a contribution to the Last Jedi tie-in anthology Canto Bight. She generally does well here novelizing The Rise of Skywalker.
Coming out of the theater, I thought Episode IX was ripe for a great novelization, like what Matthew Stover wrote for Revenge of the Sith. And, to be perfectly honest, I overhyped this book in my own mind, and that’s not really fair. This is a well-written, more informative form of the film’s story. That’s all a novelization needs to be, strictly speaking.
That said, I still think there’s something missing. In Stover’s Revenge of the Sith, or Fry’s The Last Jedi, or even in tie-ins like Luceno’s Catalyst or Carson’s own Most Wanted, we got a greater breadth of character perspectives than the films could offer. Dooku, Rose Tico, Galen Erso, and Qi’ra were all given a voice the films couldn’t give, and, therefore, the books became something that both worked on their own and improved the films on re-watch. The books got in these supporting characters’ heads, telling us what they were thinking as the familiar scenes played out before them.
This book does that too, of course, especially toward the beginning. The film’s “noticeable, Carrie Fisher-shaped hole” is filled here. (Another advantage of books over films: you don’t need to worry about actors.) And there are extra bits focussed around Lando Calrissian and Zorii Bliss. There’s a cute bit toward the end of Wicket Wystri Warrick watching the defeat of a First Order Star Destroyer and saying a sort of prayer of thanks to C-3PO.
But Finn and Poe still don’t have much focus than they got in the film. We don’t learn much more about Zannah and the other deserted stormtroopers. Wedge Antilles is still just there for a one-line cameo. In short, I don’t feel like I can go back to the film and really appreciate it in a way I didn’t before reading this.
Recommendation & Rating
I’d say this is worth reading, for the Leia scenes and for a real explanation of how Palpatine came back and had a family, of sorts. But it’s not a must-read.
6/10 — More positive than negative. Has failings, but is overall an enjoyable experience. A tentative general recommendation is given