BOOK REVIEW – Star Wars: Before The Awakening

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A Stormtrooper of the First Order with a conscience…

A scavenger trying to survive in the harsh desert…

A passionate young pilot of the New Republic…

Characters we have experienced in the film can now be explored further in  a prequel novel from Disney Lucasfilm Press
Just as the old year was approaching its end I was looking for a short easy book to read just to kiss goodbye to 2015.
The timing was incredible for that very day a bundle of Star wars books came through my door and one of them seemed to be a novel – Before The Awakening.
Imagine my slight disappointment when I noticed that it was a Young Adult book – In my mind a YA book from Disney about Star Wars wasn’t going to give me much too bite in to.
But then I saw the name of the author and excitement returned. Put Greg Rucka’s name on anything and it’s a good way to get me to give it a go.
First of, this is not a novel but an anthology that seeks to illuminate three protagonists from Star Wars:The Force Awakens – Finn, Rey and Poe.
First up is Finn.  We get to see the kind of trainee Storm trooper that Finn was. One of the best apparently, only hindered by a conscience and compassion.  It is a great story, full of action indecision and it provides an insight into the workings of The First Order. The problem it has is a predictable one, when you stop to think that the book had to have been commissioned long before the film was finished. Elements of Finn in the book don’t quite gel well with elements of Finn in the film. The impression you get from the story is not the haphazard Solo- esque endeavours of the Finn from the movie, but rather of someone much more methodical and unstoppable. There is also a small continuity problem  which causes us to question the veracity of Finn’s claim, in the movie that we see him on his first mission. Having said that it does provide motivation for Finn’s actions and gives us an idea of who the storm trooper in the movie  that fights Finn after calling him a traitor, might be. Nines
There there is Rey. This story is much slower and quieter than the other two, much more of a character driven piece. Although this may be a source of disappointment for some. I loved the pace. I thought the journey it showed was fantastic and ultimately so sad, that my breath caught in the last page. It is the portrait of a scavengers life on Jakku. The daily grind, how close to the edge, Rey’s life constantly is and provides explanation for some of the things that led me to find her a bit too all powerful in the movie. I found this a quietly satisfying read.
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Finally there is a Poe. This story gives you a snapshot of a daredevil, from little boy to rebel squadron leader. It’s a much more straightforward story than the other two, full of action and sacrifice. You learn what drives Poe and why; you feel the joy of being a pilot and in much the same way as Finn’s story gives you an insight to the First Order, so this story gives you an insight into the rebellion, how it operates and it’s place within the republic.
I can’t recommend this book enough, it stands alone,contains no spoilers for the film and adds some lovely missing detail to the protagonists of the movie. A highly enjoyable read supplemented by some lovely illustrations from Phil Noto.
Reviewer: Monts
GS Rating: 3.5/5

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