Star Wars The Force Awakens Novelization by Alan Dean Foster (Lucas Books)

Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.

So return to that galaxy far, far away, and prepare yourself for what happens when the Force awakens. . .

The Force Awakens was one of my favourite movies of last year, coming in only behind The Hateful Eight and Mad Max: Fury Road, joining Steve Jobs and The Martian in the top five. It was a nostalgic trip through the greatness that captured the awe-inspiring feel of the original trilogy, reuniting us with fan favourite characters and introducing us to some great new ones in the process, arguably establishing itself as the third or even second best film out of the entire series. So when the novelization was released I knew I was going to read it sooner or later and it didn’t disappoint, offering the same thrills as well as some brief new content that fleshes out on the more problematic parts of the film that were left unexplained.

Alan Dean Foster is a veteran to movie tie-ins and has written for a whole host of films in the past so it was easy to see why he was chosen to helm this novelization. The story feels smoothly paced and really captures the same feel of the film, with the moments when Han and Chewie arrive on the Falcon for example are just as good as the scenes later on in the film, when the action reaches its peak. Foster manages to answer some plot holes that would have been cut from the film presumably due to pacing issues, such as Poe’s fate after he and Finn crashland the TIE-Fighter and how he manages to make it back to the Resistance. It’s a brief scene that really works, and allows us to spend more time with Poe who didn’t have as much screentime as Rey and Finn in the film.

There’s so much stuff that goes on here it provides a great excuse for revisiting the film so soon after its release in cinema. I’ve seen it twice on the big screen and each time the experience was just incredible so it’s great to see the experience recaptured here in novelization format. It also makes me wonder how much of an impact the Star Wars films would have had had they debuted as novels. Whilst The Force Awakens novelization may miss the epic soundtrack that the film has to offer, you can easily remedy that by listening to John Williams’ score as you flick through the pages, making the novel a very quick read, which is also probably due to its relatively short size as one of the thinnest Star Wars novels so far in the new canon.

Don’t expect any great mysteries such as the identities of Rey’s parents to be answered however, as you’ll have to wait until Episode 8 or maybe even 9 to learn the truth, if they’re addressed at all. There’s still several elements of the unknown left unrevealed, whilst some minor problems are cleared up at the same time. If you’re looking for a stop-gap to read until the release of Rogue One that fits in with the feel of the original trilogy and have already read the awesome Aftermath, then The Force Awakens novelization should be right up your street. Recommended.

VERDICT: 8/10

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