An effective novelization of a film not only helps you relive certain moments, but also goes deeper into character motivations and development, world-building, and more minor details that can’t be explored within the time constraints of a motion picture. Does the expanded edition of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Jason Fry accomplish that? In my estimation, yes, it does.
The Last Jedi, written with input from the film’s director, Rian Johnson, takes what we see onscreen and expands on it in wonderful ways. Now that TLJ is available on digital (with DVD and Blu-ray on the way), many of us have been able to watch the deleted scenes, most of which are now are included in the book. If you felt regret upon the exclusion of certain moments, you’ll find some solace here.
Have you been keeping up with all the recent additions to canon? Well, your efforts are paid off with references galore to previous books, comics, games, etc. In this novelization, you really see it all coming together in a cohesive and beneficial way. I know it can all be a lot at times, but experiencing that level of satisfaction is a true reward. (Find out more on this subject from Jason Fry right here.) It’s important to note that you don’t lose anything if you’re not caught up with canon outside the films. The references are a natural part of the story.
I was concerned with how a few of my favorite scenes from the film would be realized in the novel, due to their rich visual and auditory representation — Namely the mirror cave with Rey, the intimate “force time” connections, the interplay between Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo Ren (or Ben Solo, depending on your point of view at that time), and Rey during a pivotal moment in the Supremacy Throne Room, and Luke’s “peace and purpose.” My fears were unfounded, however. The author aptly translated each one to the page effectively and with the emotional resonance I was hoping for.
One of the characterizations I was most pleased with was Finn. You clearly see his development from seeing Rey as his sole purpose, to his embrace of the larger Resistance, and eventual rebirth of the Rebellion, and his place within that fight. Rose’s character is enriched as well, and having read Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Cobalt Squadron prior was a bonus. As I mentioned previously, canon all comes together nicely here.
Perhaps the most intriguing addition is at the very beginning of the book. I won’t spoil it here, because it is worth discovering on your own. Suffice to say, the prologue offers an intriguing look at Luke’s mindset and where he is in his life and exile, and in his relationship to the Force.
Before we catch up with the events of the film, we find ourselves on D’Qar at a memorial for Han Solo, led by a grieving Leia. The impending arrival of the First Order hangs heavy as the rebels scramble to evacuate. However, it gives everyone, including us, a chance to mourn the passing a true hero. Han is not only a presence in the film, but in the novelization as well. As he should be.
Aside from including many of the deleted scenes, another feature that makes this an “expanded edition” are eight pages of full-color stills from The Last Jedi. I’ve read a fair amount of film adaptations in my life, and I always appreciated the inclusion of photos. So it was fun to finally find them in a Star Wars novelization. I like to look at pretty pictures!
I would have loved more of a peek into the mind of Kylo Ren, since it seems he is mostly viewed through the other characters in the story. I imagine that’s an effort to allow mystery to remain. We get glimpses during the personal connections with Rey, more so than we see in the film, and when he feels Leia’s presence in the Force during the attack on the Resistance fleet, so that will tide me over for now. He’s become my favorite character, so I might be more hungry than others. Thinking on it now, it’s probably good to be left wanting more. After all, we still have Episode IX and its novelization to look forward to. Answers in their due time, correct?
I know The Last Jedi didn’t sit well with everyone. However, with that said, Jason Fry’s novelization deserves a look. It is well worth it.
You can purchase the novelization for Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Amazon now.
A review of the audiobook can be found here.
Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing a copy of this book for review purposes.Powered by Sidelines