If you’re looking to enjoy the adventure of Solo: A Star Wars Story beyond watching the blu-ray over and over, you may want to give Mur Lafferty’s novelization a gander. Expanded with new scenes and delving into the characters’ minds, it’s an adaptation worth reading. Come inside for my full review!
The Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization is the second of the most recent film adaptations to arrive well after the film’s release. Normally, they try to launch them at the same time (or earlier as was the case with the Prequels), but Solo and The Last Jedi have done things a little different. Instead, the novelizations have arrived a few months later with “Expanded” content promised within.
This extra content often includes cutscenes that didn’t make it into the movie, or entirely new sequences crafted specifically for the novel. The idea being that even for fans who’ve watched the movie plenty of times, the book will still offer something fresh and new. For the most part, I felt The Last Jedi did a good job with this, and Solo is no different...Though I think I enjoyed it a little bit more.
The basic story follows the same plot as the film, we see Han go from small-time street thief scrounging for survival, to abandoning the Empire and embarking on his first real adventure (heist). Along the way he meets Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca and begins the journey to becoming the scoundrel we meet in A New Hope.
The additions to the story include how/why Han was kicked out of the Imperial Navy (the reason we find him meet Beckett and Chewbacca on Mimban), with a couple other goodies I don’t want to spoil. The additions don’t feel as substantial (the last one is pretty great though) as the ones included in The Last Jedi, but the novel makes up for it elsewhere.
Where the Solo books shines is in how Lafferty captures the ‘voice’ of these characters. We get a chance to peek inside the characters’ thoughts, adding some subtle, but important, context to certain scenes. This is especially true of Qi’ra, and I couldn’t be happier. I loved her character in the film and felt there was a lot of great story to be told about her (and still is). The Solo novel dives into her character much more and fleshes her out significantly.
I was really impressed with how well the author capture the vibe of Han and Lando so effectively. These iconic characters aren’t always easy to nail down tonally (even the old Expanded Universe struggled with them), but Lafferty handles them with ease. These are the characters you know and love (albeit a bit younger and less experienced), and put you instantly in the moment.
The overall writing is excellently handled and despite adding scenes, moves at a very quick pace. It’s not a long novel, but never once does it feel like you’re taking shortcuts on the story. Instead, the writing is efficient, conveying a great deal of information (and emotion) without having to say a lot.
Considering Han, Lando, and this entire side of the galaxy far, far away is built around fast/smooth talking, the novel utilizes this to keep things moving fast. As such, the book makes for a quick read that’s just as enjoyable as the film itself. If you enjoyed Solo, you’ll definitely enjoy the novel and the little extras that come with it.