Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
By Alexander Freed
- This Book Review contains spoilers for those that have not yet read the novel adaptation of ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ by Alexander Freed.
REBELLIONS ARE BUILT ON HOPE
As Imperial flags reign across the many worlds of the galaxy, so does a dark umbra of unthinkable whispers. The Rebellion has discovered a doomful plan by the Imperial regime that intends to dominate worlds by bending them to their will. Immersed in Empire-dominated space, a technological construction of inconceivable destructive power is nearly complete. A superweapon too appalling to even percolate … and a commination too grave to overpower.
If there is any chance for the many worlds that are at the will of the Empire’s mercy, it rests in the hands of a dubious band of friends: a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; a rebel commander on a mission of assassination; a defector from the Empire’s military; a blind holy man and his sharpshooter companion; and a deadly Imperial droid reprogrammed to fight alongside the Rebellion. With them, and only them, rests the only hope left to bring the Rebellion closer to a possible victory – if they can somehow find a way to steal the plans to the Empire’s new weapon.
Still, even as they face what seems to be an impending doom, and even if they are successful in their mission, the dark shadow of this monstrous technological terror darkens the skies – waiting to be unleashed. Unleashed with a burst of annihilating energy so great and so deserving of its dreadful name: The Death Star.
Well, just like the insert on the sleeve of the book jacket says: Go beyond the film with a novelization featuring NEW scenes and Expanded material. As you already know, if one is to understand the great mystery of the Force, one must explore “all” its aspects and this, my friends, is no different. If you’ve ever listened to my podcast, ‘Tarkin’s Top Shelf,’ then you’ll have heard me say: that the books tend to give you more Easter eggs and flesh-out the characters more – giving you more of a minds-eye view of their inner thoughts and emotions. And, that’s what Alexander Freed did with this literary adaptation of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. He dove in, examined each character and went beyond their backstory; he made them relatable. He made them people to care about and so, when you view the movie after reading about them, and about what they’re feeling when you watch them move about on screen, they feel real.
That said, in the first few moments, of the prologue, we are given private and personal thoughts from Lyra Erso. So personal, that now we know how difficult of a decision it was for her to leave Jyn’s side to return to her husband’s aid. Trust me, as a mother, this opening sequence wreaked havoc on my heartstrings. Even more so now that we know Lyra’s thought process in making such a decision. Granted, I know she had to think fast, but it had to have torn her heart in two as I’m sure, a piece of her died in that moment of choice. Again, following the traditional thematic patterns of Star Wars i.e. change, choice, and cost. Alexander Freed did an excellent job showcasing these themes that we see throughout the entire saga.
In regards to featuring new scenes and expanded materials, well, I got to say, the additional scenes on Jedha, were by far my favorite. These were pivotal moments that had there been enough time, would’ve made that entire scene in the film that much more poignant and impactful. The two most prominent being: the little girl’s death, the very same one that Jyn had saved from the war zone just moments earlier, and that of the Imperial Troopers on patrol when the Death Star was undergoing its first test. These sequences were probably the most heart-wrenching to endure during my read, but none of which can hold a candle to the deaths of Chirrut Imwe, K-2SO, Bodhi, and of course, Jyn and Cassian.
It’s amazing to me how ridiculously awesome Alexander Freed’s written version is. In fact, it wasn’t until after I finished reading it that I realized how much he emulated the styles of Edgar Allan Poe and even William Shakespeare, as in, he captured the essence of Romanticism from the days of Romantic Literature. If you’re not familiar with that style, I implore you to look it up, and find the similarities. Take Scarif for example. It’s a place of sheer beauty or what one would describe as tranquil and a place for an intimate rendezvous, but instead, it was a place of dread. Yet, even in the end, in the final moments of despair, Alexander Freed found a way to revive a few seconds of pure humanity in what I would call, innocent intimacy.
The rumbling overwhelmed all other sound. Jyn tightened her grip on Cassian, and he found the strength to hold her. The world grew brighter, emerald at first and then a clean, purifying while. In Jyn’s mind, the cave below the broken hatch was illuminated with the strength of a sun, and then the walls turned to dust and there was no longer a cave but only her spirit and heart and everything she had ever been: the daughter of Galen and Lyra and Saw, the angry fighter and the shattered prisoner and the champion and the friend.
Soon all those things, too, burned away, and Jyn Erso – finally at peace – became one with the Force. – Alexander Freed, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story novelization
All in all, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story novelization is a fantastic companion piece to the film version, and adds an in-depth or inner minds-eye view to what we see on screen.
A special thank you goes out to Del Rey Publishing for providing us with an advanced copy of this book for review purposes.
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed. Del Rey Hardcover available now, along with Kindle and Audio formats. Star Wars and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd., & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.