Science Fiction

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Author: Alan Dean Foster

Published By:
Del Rey Books

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                When I learned that Disney had bought out George Lucas and was releasing a new trilogy of Star Wars movies, I vowed not to see Star Wars VII in the theaters.  With all the buzz about The Force Awakens, I was still worried that the movie would be Disney-fied and adding J.J. Abrams to the mix did nothing to quell my worries.  J.J. Abrams is the guy everyone seems to call when they want a reboot.  That and the little dribbles here and there I heard about the film after release solidified my stand.  No way I was paying over $16.00 (depending on where I would see it) to see a Star Wars reboot.  I would wait until it was available for rental.  That didn't mean that I wouldn't read the novelization of the movie, especially when I got it for free.

                As Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens, the world is in turmoil.  The Republic is short lived and a new order - the First Order - has come to be.  Luke Skywalker has vanished and Leia is left trying to hold things together, leading the Resistance against their new foe.  Desperate to find her brother to aide her in her battle, she sends her best pilot to a desert planet known as Jakku to gain a portion of a map that may lead them to Luke. 

                Poe Damaron is willing and able, but no match for the new leaders of the First Order.  When they arrive on Jakku, Poe gives his copy of the map to his BB-8 droid to deliver to the Resistance should he be captured (sound familiar?).  Poe is captured by Dark Side apprentice Kylo Ren, but a defecting stormtrooper, FN-2187, helps him escape.  They lose track of one another after their Tie Fighter crash lands on Jakku, but the newly named Finn finds a way offworld after coming in contact with a scavenger named Rey, who just happens to be in possession of BB-8.

                Their path offworld leads them to familiar faces - Han Solo and Chewbacca.  After all, it is their ship that they used to escape Jakku - the Millennium Falcon is back with her rightful owners.  Learning of Poe's mission and Finn and Rey's determination to complete it, Han decides to help, but things never go the way Han Solo plans and they soon find themselves under attack by the First Order.  Separated, Finn heads to Resistance headquarters with Han and Chewbacca while Rey is taken to the First Order headquarters by Kylo Ren. 

                Leia is overjoyed to have finally received the map to Luke, but it is incomplete and she now has a new concern - the First Order's powerful weapon that can turn planets and their surrounding moons into binary systems.  It has already been used on the Republic capitol.  Can the Resistance find a way to destroy this new weapon before it is brought to bear on their headquarters, effectively wiping out all that stands between freedom and the First Oder?

                I did well, yes?  I didn't give away all that much.  I don't want to spoil things for those who haven't seen the film or read the book, but I will say this - I was right not to see this movie in the theaters.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens is definitely a Star Wars reboot, using older characters that we love to reboot the series for the younger ones to take over.  Alan Dean Foster's novelization of the film is very descriptive and the events taking place can easily be pictured in the reader's mind's eye.  That being said, the reader will definitely get the impression that this has all been done before.  (On a side note: another hint at a reboot - Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelization of the very first Star Wars film...before it was called A New Hope.)

                Without giving too much away, I must laugh at the statement once made by the powers that be in charge of this film - that they wouldn't use anything from the previous novels.  A die hard Star Wars novel fan would know that they lied a little there.  The big bad guy has a tie to the Solo family that could have been easily predicted.  Sure, the name is different, but the path is very similar.  Yes, I'm being cryptic, but Star Wars novel fans will get me.  I enjoyed the characters of Poe, Rey and Finn, but I think that's because they are so much like the original characters of A New Hope.  If you read the back story of Han, you would know that he was once an Imperial cadet that turned his back on the Empire once he saw their evil ways like Finn.  Rey has a lot of Luke in her and I have a feeling that something may eventually be revealed that might tie her to him in an unexpected way later on.  She also has that Leia determination about her.  Poe is a mix of Wedge, Luke and Han.

                The characters fit well together and the story is enjoyable, but all too familiar.  If I had spent money on this special edition of the hardcover version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (which contains tons of pictures from the film), I would have been slightly annoyed at the $28.00 price tag for a reworked version of A New Hope.  I would have been annoyed particularly with the ending scenes...refuse to give them away for those who haven't seen the film yet...but I suppose this would be inevitable in a reboot.  I will definitely see the film on DVD or stream it, because that's what a diehard Star Wars fan does, but I am glad of my decision not to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the theaters.  I was right about the reboot and am glad I saved my money. 

                For younger fans who may not have much invested in our favorites from A New Hope, this will be a great beginning, but for those of us who have stuck by the Star Wars franchise all these years, The Force Awakens marks a bittersweet beginning to the end of the Star Wars franchise we all loved.  Some say change is good and I tend to agree most times, but this time...well, I hope I can eventually see the good in this change, but I am doubtful.


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