Author: Jason Fry
Publisher: Del Rey
Length: 304 pages
EE Critic Score: 9/10
This novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was written by Jason Fry and was released in January of 2016, a few weeks after the film. It is the first main-market novel Fry has written for Star Wars, though he has had a long career writing Star Wars lore guides.
I’m going to skip any synopsis since this is just a retelling of a film I’ve already reviewed.
The subtitle “Expanded Edition” first came attached to this book and has been applied to the two later Star Wars novelizations as well. And it’s a good thing to put on the cover of a film novelization because that’s the main selling point of such a book: it gives an expanded view of the story you’ve seen as a film.
But how does this book expand on The Last Jedi? That film was already pretty decompressed in its construction as it was. Well, Fry does a lot to explain, in detail, the military actions throughout the story. This is unsurprising, considering that Fry literally (co-)wrote the book on Star Wars warfare. The opening battle at D’Qar, especially, gets some extra attention, with Poe Dameron’s solo run at the First Order fleet, a scene which opens the film, coming in the third chapter, after a good deal of buildup of the situation from both sides’ perspectives. It includes scenes — quite a good scene, in particular, actually — that was cut from the final film. And there’s also a neat little prologue that imagines the world Luke Skywalker bitterly yearns for when Rey first finds him on Atch-To, where he never became a legend.
But what I’d say is this book’s main strength over the film is its treatment of Rose Tico. In the film, she was kind of a non-entity, a sounding board (along with DJ) for Finn as he decided how much he would commit himself to the rebel cause. In all of Rose’s scenes, it was Finn who had an arc. Well, in this book, Rose has an arc too. It deals primarily with Rose’s hatred of the First Order and the way Finn challenges that. Take this bit from Chapter 22:
In the meantime, Rose didn’t know what to think about the fact that a man trained to be a First Order stormtrooper could be innocent enough to assume a feral, unapologetic thief actually owned a fancy yacht. She supposed it made her feel simultaneously better and worse about the galaxy.
On the one hand, maybe there were painfully naïve young men behind many more of those expressionless, skull-like helmets — lost boys who’d never been allowed to have so much as their own name.
On the other hand, battalions made up of those lost boys had destroyed Rose’s homeworld and so many others. How much more ruin and misery would they inflict on the galaxy? How many more people would they rob of loved ones?
Rose had never heard of another First Order stormtrooper shaking off his brainwashing and refusing to carry out the murderous orders he’d been given. Maybe Finn was the only one.
Well, if that’s the case, Paige would have said I should give him a break.
There’s a lot of stuff like that in the book, such that when Rose says that bit about not destroying what we hate, but saving what we love, it seems that she’s speaking to herself as much as to Finn.
Recommendation & Rating
This book doesn’t really serve as a replacement for the film; if for nothing else, you should see the film to see Star Wars looking the best on screen that it ever has. But I would still say that it’s worth reading this book as well.
The problems with the story, namely the way the tension of the pursuit of the Resistance fleet gets broken by the constant cutting away to other plotlines, are still here, but I can hardly criticize the book for that. Overall, this delivered on the promise of an expanded edition, and it was well worth the read.
9/10 — Flawless. Meets all of the reviewer’s expectations. Worth arguing a person into experiencing.