Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Author: Alexander Freed
Published By: Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I saw promos for Rogue One A Star Wars Story, I thought, “Whoa! This looks like it could be really exciting!” I was looking forward to seeing it in the theater. Bu then I started hearing mixed reviews about the film. Some really hated it, but some thought it an excellent film, just not your average Star Wars film. I never really got the opportunity to see the film in the theater after all, but I did get my hands on the novelization. Would it be worth it to pick up the DVD when it becomes available? I would soon find out.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the tale of how those Death Star plans ended up in the hands of Princess Leia Organa. It begins with Galen Erso, a man in hiding from the Empire after he learns that his scientific imaginations would be used against innocent people so the Emperor can maintain control through fear. Unfortunately, Galen Erso is a valuable asset to the Empire and Orson Krennic wastes no expense in hunting Galen and his family down. His wife is killed in an attempt to save him, but Jyn escapes and is raised by an extremist Rebel named Saw Gerrera.
Over a decade later, Jyn Erso is a grown woman serving time in an Imperial prison under an assumed name until she is broken out by Rebel forces. Mon Mothma, leader of the Rebel Alliance has a special mission for Erso, should she choose to undertake it. An Imperial pilot has defected with a message from Galen Erso about a powerful new Imperial weapon, but he is now in the hands of Saw Gerrera on Jedha. Mon Mothma wants Jyn to use her connections to Saw to get the pilot released to her people.
She knew it wouldn’t be simple, but she never expected her world to come crashing around her. First, the news that her father still loved her and had never forsaken her. Then, the news of the planet-killing weapon he helped to create, followed by the news that he has sabotaged it so that the Rebels have hope. And then, the total destruction of the Holy City of Jedha itself.
Barely escaping the destruction with her Rebel allies, two former Guardians of the Whispers (a Jedi-following spiritual cult of sorts) and the Imperial pilot they came to retrieve, Jyn returns to the Rebel Alliance on Yavin 4 only to discover that most don’t believe her and that some believe so much they are thinking of surrender. It is up to Jyn and her new friends to capture the hope necessary to destroy the Empire’s newest deadly creation known as the Death Star.
Now that I have read the novelization, I understand some of the negativity surrounding this film. This is not your everyday Star Wars film where the heroes always come out on top and the main characters live happily ever after. Think back to A New Hope and deep in your heart, you know what will happen to most of the characters you meet in Rogue One. It’s getting there…discovering the history that led up to that fateful moment in A New Hope when we see Princess Leia placing the blueprints for the Death Star in R2D2 that’s important.
Rogue One is Star Wars meets Saving Private Ryan. The battle is brutal and the only thing that matters is getting the blueprints to the Rebel Alliance…at all costs. Thus, we meet and become attached to many a character who may not make it to the end. Therein lies the issue some fans have with this movie – despite being a product of science fiction, it is too realistic in a way that Star Wars never was before. There are too many losses for those fans’ tastes.
It’s just too dark of a film for their liking, but this was something I expected, so I was actually very receptive to this project. What I love about reading novelizations is that the author always gives the reader more insight into the characters than can be gotten from the film. Alexander Freed takes us inside the heads of Jyn, Krennic, Cassian Andor, Baze and more, offering up insight into their actions in the film and allowing us to see these characters and their motives more clearly. It makes it that much harder when we lose people in the story, because we know them better.
I liked the character of Jyn Erso, a strong female role in a character that has many a flaw thanks to a traumatic past, but still finds a means of redemption. In fact, when you take a look at all of the individuals who join in the mission to prize the Death Star blueprints from the Imperials, you will see flawed individuals who find their own personal redemptions in their actions that help make the destruction of the Death Star a possibility. Their characters were well thought out for the film, but I think that Alexander Freed gives them that little bit extra, making their individual stories that much more poignant.
Another draw to the film that Freed manages to translate well in book format is the action and there is a whole lot of it, starting with the rescue of Jyn at the prison, the mission on Jedha and finally, the extraction of the Death Star blueprints. We’re talking hand-to-hand, blaster-blazing and even space dogfighting action here. Freed does an excellent job describing the battles in such a detail-oriented way, I could actually picture them in my mind’s eye. Sure, there were no actual Jedi Knights in this film, but, for once, they weren’t needed.
I also enjoyed the little excerpts of information from private dossiers and historic files thrown in giving us more insight into what others thought of the threat of a Death Star, how Galen Erso sabotaged the planet-killer and more. A nice added touch to lend some authenticity to the tale. My version of the book also came with some pictures…would have liked more, but it was nice to be able to put face to name.
All-in-all, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a riveting tale that offers insight into how the Rebel Alliance was able to get their hands on those Death Star blueprints and locate the defect that would lead them to destroying it. It even goes as far as finally explaining how the fatal flaw was allowed to exist in the first place. And at the same time, the tale offers up a story of hope and redemption through the use of less than noble characters engaging in a noble cause, putting themselves in harm’s way so that a galaxy may have the most important thing necessary to survive in a world of tyranny – hope.