Page count: Paperback, 368
Author: R. A. Salvatore
Timeline: Follows The Phantom Menace, precedes Revenge of the Sith
Main Characters: Anakin, Obi-Wan, Padmé, Jango Fett and more.
Brief Synopsis: Now a late teenager, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Padmé try to discover the mystery behind the assassination attempts on the senator’s life while the Republic’s fragility promises an impending war.
This book was surprisingly good. I do enjoy all of the Star Wars movies, but even though the Prequel Trilogy is my personal favorite, I certainly understand the flaws within the Attack of the Clones movie. There are a lot of points where I can’t help but cringe. But most of this, in my opinion, is due to the acting. This is obviously eliminated in book form. Salvatore did a great job with the writing of the characters, so I felt that they became much stronger in writing. This is the first novelization that I can say may change some people’s opinions on the movie. Specifically, Padmé and Anakin’s relationship was a strength in this novel. This, and many other points of the story, were given more depth. The book’s length allowed the story to be explored with more detail. I could go on and on regarding my gut reaction, but let’s get into some details.
One of the biggest problems of the movie is Padmé and Anakin’s relationship. It does not come off as genuine, feels rushed, and there was no on-screen chemistry between the two characters. But in the novel, this became a strength. We understand a lot about Anakin and why he would essentially throw his life away for Padmé, but we don’t really understand her motivations. She is a former queen and current senator of the Republic, so it doesn’t make sense for her to do something so illogical. But through the book, her motivations are clearer. It is a classic forbidden love story that comes across much better in written form. This is one of the biggest strengths I see in the book, especially because it erases a weakness from the story.
Along with Padmé and Anakin, there were SO many other characters that got additional character development. Specifically, I want to highlight the work done on Boba and Jango Fett. These characters are essentially the characters that look cool but have no depth in Star Wars. But Salvatore shed a lot of light on these characters individually and on their relationship with each other. There is much more understanding to their actions and I even found myself rooting for them at points in the book, which never happened during the movie. Instead of cheering over Jango’s death, I felt some hurt. This made the overall story more compelling and complex, a strong addition.
Finally, I must point out the development done to Shmi Skywalker. We never learned much about her, but we get a lot of content focused on her in the book. The first few chapters revolve around her life on Tatooine after Anakin leaves, and I absolutely loved it. We understand the impact of what it did to her to have her son leave and we see how she changes when she gets freed and married. I could add more details about what this book did good considering the characters, but these were certainly the strongest points. I wrote about it a lot, so I’m confident to say this section is the strongest point of the book. I am giving 19.5 points for characters.
Score: 19.5/20 pts
I feel so repetitive when I write these sections. But we have another Star Wars novel and another well-written gem. Because the book was written a while ago, I am unfamiliar with Salvatore’s work. But he did a great job. For novelizations of movies, I think a detailed writing style is important, because otherwise the author is just retelling events of the movie without giving it more depth. Salvatore’s style was detailed with a strong balance of dialogue. It felt easy to read, even though the material was fairly dense at points. It simply had quality prose. Because of that, I am giving 19 points.
Score: 19/20 pts
Because the main points of the story’s plot are already set in stone, I mostly look to see what is added to the story. As I mentioned previously, we get more background on Shmi Skywalker’s life after Anakin left and before the Tusken Raider’s got her. This gave more impact to a major scene in the story, when she died in Anakin’s arms (spoiler alert). While I enjoyed this content, I realize that everyone may not. It is rather lengthy and for some it will appear to move too slow. But if you’re reading the novelization, you’ll probably be wanting material like this as I did. Salvatore also made the low points of the movie into strong points of the novel, specifically the Anakin and Padmé scenes. So instead of low valleys in the movie, they become interesting plot points of the book. My only downside to the plot is that the book ended fairly abruptly. It did end like that in the movie, but this is where I would have liked some additional depth. Especially for wrapping up the first battle of the war and bridging some of the gap to Anakin and Padmé’s wedding. But overall, the plot was a strength due to the added content. I am giving 18.5 points.
Score: 18.5/20 pts
The writing style was easy to read, and the story was exciting, so my intrigue was mostly high throughout the book. If I let my personal bias decide the score, it would probably be a little higher, but I realize that for most people the intrigue will not be as high. If there is less interest in the added scenes, I think the reader will perceive them as dull and it will be difficult for them to get through it. Especially as the book begins, it takes a while for the actual story to get going. But, again, if you like added content you shouldn’t have a problem with that. As for the rest of the book, the scenes we are familiar with are very easy to read because we know what to expect. Novelizations of the movies get a natural boost in this section. For these reasons, I am giving 18 points for the intrigue.
Score: 18/20 pts
What Does it Add?
I was pleasantly surprised with what this book added to Star Wars. Most novelizations and books written to supplement movies only have content that applies to the movie. While most of the book did just apply to the movie, there was some pretty cool content regarding fighting styles of those who use light sabers. Specifically, regarding the preferred fighting style of the Jedi and why Count Dooku’s fighting style differed and was superior. It isn’t often we see information like this directly from a novel, so I greatly embraced it. It may also explain why some Jedi seem helpless in duels. So, I am giving 18 points for what the book added.
Score: 18/20 pts
There is nothing in the novel that added to nor took away from the logic within the Star Wars universe. So, I am neither adding nor taking away additional points.
Score: 0 pts
So, my final score for the novelization of Attack of the Clones is a 93/100, or a low A. This is a surprisingly high score for a novelization of a movie. It is also a rare case where your opinion may change regarding the story by reading the book. It turned cringey moments of the movie into strong points when written. There were also many strong, additional scenes. Salvatore did everything I was hoping for and more. I was very pleasantly surprised overall. Even if, like most Star Wars fans, you didn’t enjoy the movie, I want to encourage you to try out the book. You may be pleasantly surprised as I was!
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).