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Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

The official novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the highly anticipated blockbuster film directed by J. J. Abrams, hitting theatres in December 2015.

More than thirty years ago, Star Wars burst onto the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon. Now the next adventures in this blockbuster saga are poised to captivate old and new fans alike—beginning with the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And alongside the cinematic debut comes the thrilling novel adaptation by New York Times bestselling science fiction master Alan Dean Foster.

Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning new 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.

I’m working on the assumption that most, if not all of you, that are reading this have already seen The Force Awakens so I’m not going to dwell hugely on the story. A word of warning however, if you haven’t seen it then you should know there will be mild spoilers after the end of this paragraph. Don’t say that I didn’t tell you in advance. Got it? Good.

The key question that may have crossed your mind is if reading the novelisation is worth your time or not. You’ve seen the film and so already know the story. Should you bother revisiting it again so soon? The answer to that question is an unequivocal YES. The novel does a perfect job of enhancing the existing story. Put it this way, within a few pages BB-8 came across as even more adorable than he did on screen, Poe Dameron is just that little bit more dashing, Rey is that much more determined and there is far more insight into the differing internal struggles that exist within both Finn and Kylo Ren respectively. Essentially, that is the beauty of a book over a film; you get that extra depth that I think is all but impossible to convey on screen. Those little snippets of internal dialogue that help round out character motivation are so damned delightful.

I love everything that is going on here but my single favourite thing, because I am a raging sentimentalist at heart, is the relationship between Han and Leia. When I wrote my review of Star Wars: Aftermath a couple of months ago I had a minor epiphany regarding how the original trilogy ended and what came afterwards. The scenes in this book between these two characters read like the living embodiment of that revelation. Events don’t happen in a bubble, especially not when it comes to the rise and fall of galactic empires. There are consequences to actions and people suffer as an outcome. Revisiting the ultimate space scoundrel and discovering how things have changed for him and the people that surround him is heart-breaking stuff.

I suppose a movie novelisation ultimately has a single objective. Enhance the experience of the film by making the reader love that movie all the more. In this case, Alan Dean Foster has made that lofty goal appear easy. It feels like he has managed that Herculean task on every damn page. Hell, I want to go and see it again on screen right now*.

Those who enjoy musical accompaniment with reading won’t be massively surprised that I’m going to select John William’s stirring score for the movie as my choice for what your ears should be doing as you read. Hell, may as well go the whole hog and embrace the entire multimedia experience!

There is actually a reasonably good chance that I’ll re-read this again before Rogue One hits our screens at the end of this year. I may be wrong, but I have some suspicions about the interconnectedness of these new films with the old and I suspect that the novelisations may offer some tantalising hints.

Overall I can’t find any fault, this novelization is the ideal companion piece to its celluloid counterpart. I already knew that Alan Dean Foster was a master when it came to the movie tie-in novel (I still remember reading both the Aliens and the Krull tie-in) and this adaption of The Force Awakens confirms that the old magic is still there. Do yourself a favour, you’ve already seen the movie x times, treat yourself to a copy of the book too.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is published by Century and is available now.

*Sadly it is a Sunday morning at 7.45am so the chances of achieving that goal immediately are pretty slim. Perhaps later on today 🙂

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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