Pub. Date: 01/01/2016
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. . .Novelizations of films always have to work against the expectations of its readers. Either readers come in knowing only vague things about the film and hence have certain expectations or they have seen the film, love it and have extremely high expectations. The authors of novelizations also usually work from initial drafts of the script, rather than the shooting script, hence they often have additional scenes, different dialogue or even different characterization. As long as the reader is open to being surprised, novelizations can only add to a fan's enjoyment of a film. In the case of Alan Dean Foster's The Force Awakens I have definitely only gained from reading it.
The great thing about Foster's "take" on The Force Awakens is that it provides an insight into the minds of the characters which film, by the mere fact of its medium, can't provide. Unless you want to include endless and tiring voice-overs, that is. One of the things that immediately made me happy was that the novel started with Princess, now General, Leia and her state of mind. She is a little bit sidelined in the film and Foster gives her a much bigger role. She is clearly in charge, clearly leading the Resistance and a woman of her own. As such, reading the novel after seeing the film will give you loads of little and interesting glimpses into the life behind the film. Especially some of the moments with Rey, her discovering of the Force etc. were absolutely interesting to read. Foster's writing style is nicely to the point, not unnecessarily sience-y or flowery and his novel makes for a beautiful return to the planets and characters we discovered in December.
However, here and there I felt that the writing was a little bit too rushed. Partially this may have come from the fact that I've seen the film and hence already know the story. However, certain scenes were rushed through whereas I would have imagined they would have given Foster a lot of chances to explore the characters and discover a new side of Star Wars. As such this also comes back to a criticism I had of the film itself, namely the fact that it sometimes stayed happily superficial. Growing up with the Prequels Star Wars has always been something deep, mythological and complex to me. There are layers, there are secrets and the more you think the more you discover. Both the film and this novelization of The Force Awakens prefer to not go too deep. There are many hints though, hints to the possibility that those depths could be there. I guess in that sense Foster is very effective because it leaves the reader wanting even more.
I give this book...
Foster adds a couple of interesting moments to the film we all know. The added scenes do really add and his writing fits into the Star Wars universe nicely. However, Foster doesn't fill up most of the gaps that the film leaves. There are some shifts here and there which still don't feel entirely comfortable but reading The Force Awakens was a lot of fun.