Page Count: Hardcover, 247
Author: Rae Carson
Timeline: Follows The Last Jedi
Main Characters: Rey, Kylo Ren, Leia, Poe Dameron, Finn, and others
Brief Synopsis: The Resistance has been reborn, but a new enemy awakens that threatens to combine forces with the treacherous First Order.
I, like many Star Wars fans, had a desire to read the novelization of The Rise of Skywalker due to the nature of the movie. There seemed to be so much going on in the story. Scenes weren’t given chances to breathe and there seemed to be many, many questions regarding the plot. This caused The Rise of Skywalker to be the first novelization that I have read so far (and it certainly isn’t my last, at the time of writing this I am working through the Prequels). Rae Carson was the author of one of my favorite Star Wars books (Most Wanted), so I was looking forward to her adaptation. My gut reaction is that I really enjoyed the story in novel form, perhaps even more than the movie. Carson did a great job of telling the stories of the scenes from the movies. While the extra scenes that she did add were good, I think there could have been many more added scenes. Overall, the book seemed rather short at only 247 pages (it was hardcover, and the pages were large, but it still felt short). So, there were pros and cons to the book, but I certainly enjoyed the read as a whole.
One of the major things that I look for in a novelization is extra character development, especially through the thoughts of the characters. Carson did a good job of adding more depth and meaning to characters and their moments of development throughout the story. However, like a lot of cases within this book, I think the thoughts of the characters could have been more detailed. In my opinion, the characters that received the most work were Rey, Kylo Ren/Ben Solo, Leia, and Poe. No single character really stood out the most. What Carson wrote for these characters was good, I just wanted more of it. However, her work still added to the relatability and depth to the characters, so I am giving a good score of 18 points, but there was room for some improvement.
I say it every time, but it is worth repeating, no Star Wars book that I have come across is written poorly. Del Rey has done an excellent job of selecting authors who are both devout Star Wars fans and strong writers. Carson is certainly no exception. Her writing style I’ve noticed, from this reading and that of Most Wanted, is slightly less detailed, but it is easy to read. It felt effortless to go from line to line and page to page. That is the strength of Carson’s writing and I felt it was on full display here. But, as mentioned in other cases, I think that a more detailed writing style would have been welcomed, especially for this novelization. But Carson still did an excellent job with writing this book, so I am again giving 18 points.
The plot is what I was most disappointed in. Obviously, I have to take a slightly different approach here than with my other book reviews because the story is already written, so Carson did not have much leeway considering where she took the story. But what I really wanted was for her to fill in the spaces between major scenes, allow them to breathe, supply extra scenes that supplement the overall story, and fill in some plot holes (and there certainly were plot holes in the movie). What Carson did best was adding transitions between scenes. This allowed the overall plot to move a bit easier.
She also answered some of the major questions about the movie, like how Palpatine survived, why he wanted Rey to kill him, and more information about her parents. These major questions were answered, but I think she could have answered even more questions (like how Rey discovered Force healing). These other questions could have been answered in completely new scenes. This was what was lacking the most in this novel. There were small sections comprised of new scenes, but I wanted whole chapters of new content. I admit that I am new to reading novelizations of the movies, but just by starting to read The Phantom Menace, I see that new chapters of completely new content are not foreign to Star Wars novelizations. The lack of new content is the weakest part of the book (however, the parts she did add were excellent, including some really cool stuff regarding Kylo searching for the Wayfinder) and the reason why I am only giving 16 points for the plot.
I must admit that I am a little bit biased regarding the intrigue. I really enjoyed the movie, so it is natural that I would also enjoy reading the book. For others that do not enjoy the movie as much as I did, they will probably will not have as much intrigue as I did. But there were still things in the book that objectively added to the intrigue of the novel. A lot happens throughout the story, which makes it a very exciting read. There were peaks and valleys in the plot, but because there were so many peaks, it made me compelled to keep reading. Also, as mentioned regarding the writing style, reading the book felt effortless. Combined together, these two things made me not want to put the book down. But I must acknowledge some of my personal bias, so I am giving a strong score of 18.5 points, even though I felt that it could have been even higher.
What Does It Add?
For examining what this book adds to Star Wars, I must look at what content the book added independently of the movie. There were not many scenes in the book that were independent from the film, but what Carson did add was significant. Most notably was the content regarding how Palpatine survived his fill in Return of the Jedi. The content was truly larger than itself, answering a question that has been on the minds of Star Wars fans since the prequels: what the secret of immortality was that Plageius allegedly possessed. This pulls the score up higher than what it could have been. This novel should have added more to the universe so it will only get 17.5 points, even though what it added was good.
While the actual movie may have taken away some logic from the Star Wars universe (like the Force healing, would have been helpful for Qui-Gon), the actual novel did nothing additional to take away from the Star Wars universe. In contrast, it helped explain some of the plot holes found in the movie. I’ll let you read the book to get these details, but I am awarding an extra half point for this section.
So, my final score for the novelization of The Rise of Skywalker is 88.5 points, or a B plus. A lot of people enjoyed reading this book and I was no exception, so don’t think that this slightly lower score means that I didn’t enjoy the read. I just think that there could have been additional content to the book giving it more depth and length. I think this is the entire point of novelizations of movies, giving us extra scenes. If you haven’t read the book and enjoyed the movie, you will certainly enjoy reading the book. But if you didn’t enjoy the movie, I don’t think that reading this book will change your opinion on it. It is mostly the same story told through a different medium.
I hope you enjoyed this book review and if there is a book that you want me to read or review, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. As for now, I will only be doing Canon books (but in the future that might change).