Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Book)
Has the ancient Lord of the Sith truly returned? Kylo Ren cuts a swath of destruction across the stars, determined to discover any challenge to his control over the First Order and his destiny to rule over the galaxy—and crush it completely. Meanwhile, to discover the truth, Rey, Finn, Poe, and the Resistance must embark on the most perilous adventure they have ever faced.
Featuring all-new scenes adapted from never-before-seen material, deleted scenes, and input from the filmmakers, the story that began in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and continued in Star Wars: The Last Jedi reaches an astounding conclusion.
The full story of The Rise of Skywalker arrives this week with the “expanded” book adaptation, bringing together new scenes and adding quite a bit of impressive detail to the film’s story. Check out our full review to learn more about why it’s worth picking up!
The Rise of Skywalker is a novelization, of course, which means if you’ve seen the film you already have a general idea of what to expect from the story. It follows the same story beats, as we see Rey, Poe, and Finn on a journey to find the mysterious Sith Wayfinder in order to try and stop Palpatine’s brand new army from beyond the Unknown Regions.
Their quest takes them to all new planets, encountering old allies and new friends, all while being chased by Kylo Ren and his mysterious, yet terrifying Knights of Ren. All of which leads to the ultimate showdown with the Saga’s most notorious villain, and a battle for the fate of the galaxy.
Obviously there are some additions made (which I’ll talk more about in a bit) along with the ability to dive into the mindset of these characters during certain scenes, but the overall story is the same. So if you were hoping to see something drastically different, or changed, you’re out of luck. What you’ll be wanting is Fan/Fix-It Fiction.
That said, this is easily my favorite Star Wars movie adaptation we’ve seen released (and I REALLY loved Alexander Freed’s Rogue One). I think my thoughts on the film are fairly well known by this point. In general I enjoyed it and have been eagerly looking forward to watching it again at home later this month. It has plenty of issues, and things I would have liked to see done better, but overall I still had fun with it.
Perhaps my biggest issue with the film, the biggest thing I hammered in my original review, was the pacing. The Rise of Skywalker is ridiculously fast-paced oftentimes at the sake of better comprehension. It’s almost like “exposition” is a bad thing, and the result has been a number of lingering questions and gaps inexplicably filled by other media (namely resource books).
Thankfully, the book completely eliminates this problem. I’m not even talking about the extra scenes added in, just the basics of the film itself are smoothed out and given the room to breathe that certain scenes sorely needed. Having the insight into the mindset (including internal dialog) of the characters during key moments added a great deal of depth to those scenes. More so, the book changes the order of a couple scenes, clarifying the timeline quite a bit, while smoothing out the pacing overall.
Rae Carson manages this through her excellent prose. If you haven’t read her previous Star Wars book, Most Wanted (a prequel to Solo), this offers up a great taste of her talent. She does a great job of painting a picture of the scenes without relying on lengthy exposition. This ensures that all the necessary information is given to the reader, while still maintaining the fast paced sense of tension. It’s impressive, and makes for a compelling read that kept me flipping the pages long into the night, even though I knew how the story would end.
Much like the last few movie adaptations, The Rise of Skywalker is an “Expanded Edition.” So what get a handful of entirely new scenes (which were cut from the film itself) integrated into the story, along with some expanded moments to scenes already in the film. I won’t go into detail on what all they entail (it’s really fun coming across them on your own), but I will tell you the expanded content is pretty damn amazing.
On top of the pacing, my only other “big” issue with the film was Leia’s story. Using only unused footage from previous films, they were understandably limited in what they could do with Carrie Fisher’s iconic character. I loved what they accomplished (having her be Rey’s Master is one of my favorite things ever), but it still felt truncated with plenty of gaps.
Rae Carson’s adaptation fills in those gaps and manages to give Leia a more complete story arc. Those expanded moments added so much to the overall tale being told, while bringing about a surprising amount of emotion to key moments in the plot. It helped explain some necessary things that the film glossed over, and brought some closure to her story I felt was cut short in the movie. Couple that with some minor cut scenes that add a surprising amount of lore (both to the current story and preceding events) and you’ve got a must-read book on your hands.
I breezed through this book in only a couple days and it shows how powerful this story is/can be. By the time I turned the final page I was left with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and a strong desire to check out the movie again. I’m very much hoping to see more of Rae Carson telling stories in the galaxy far, far away.
A Minor Note on “Leaks”
If you follow Star Wars goings-on online you probably noticed some people already talking about passages from the book on social media. Del Rey was kind enough to release the book in limited quantities to those attending C2E2, and some began posting images of pages from the book and discussing how certain scenes were portrayed in the book.
The result was a lot of grumbling and hot takes. If you caught wind of any of those going around, let me assure you, seeing those snippets in the FULL context of the novel feels drastically different than many tried to play them off. Even if you feel like you’ve been “spoiled” by them, the book is very much worth picking up and reading for its own merits.