Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Junior Novel - Review
Something has awakened.
Every generation has a legend.
Nobody's every really gone.
The conclusion of the Skywalker Saga is finally here. This junior novel retelling of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, contains deleted and extended scenes, including exclusive scenes you won't find anywhere else! This book also includes an 8-page full-color insert.
That’s the publisher’s synopsis for the new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Junior Novel” written by Michael Kogge, that, as far as I know, is the last release in the Rise of Skywalker publishing campaign.
Michael is no stranger to Star Wars, having written more things than I can possibly list, but what’s important here is that he wrote the junior novels for both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi. And I enjoy the fact that they let him finish off the trilogy, something they don’t do on the expanded edition side of things.
Which also means his writing style speaks to younger audiences and is adept at writing condensed, economical, and to the point stories. Skills he no doubt perfected while writing for Topps, West End Games, Fantasy Flight Games, the Star Wars Adventure Journal, Wizards of the Coast, and Star Wars Gamer. As such, he’ s learned to says things out loud so the younger reader doesn’t have to spend too much time postulating the text, which of course is based off the Abrams/Terrio story, a thorny script to put it mildly.
An example of this would be after Rey, Finn, Poe and the rest have crash landed on Kef Ber, and are seeing the Death Star II wreckage for the firs time…
“As with all things that exploded, there was debris. And this chunk of the battle station had plunged into the oceans of Kef Ber, causing untold damage to the moon.”
Right there Michael is disclosing what many of us were asking or even scoffed at when we watched the film for the fist time. He speaks plainly and doesn’t take anything for granted. But it’s not all about filling in the blanks, in fact extraordinarily little of it does that, as he picks and chooses his spots wisely.
Michael does get to explore some new content and we'll stay on the moon for the first example. We all know the scene of Rey going across those giant waves in that crappy skimmer, and then suddenly she’s in the bowels of the Death star wreckage. In this edition, the skimmer falls apart thanks to those violent encounters with nature and Rey is thrust into the dark and cold depths. With zero swimming abilities, she uses the Force to combat those monster waves and impossible tides and makes it to safety after being thrust high into the air. We've seen concept art of Rey swimming at the Death Star wreckage so we know it was discussed at some point, it would have been a great thing to behold visually so it's too bad it never made it past the discussion phase.
And while we’re near Endor, he expands on another moment from the film which offered a nice cameo, but little else. Like the film, it takes place right at the end as we get a quick shot of our now old Ewok friend Wicket, who is sitting with his wokling son Pommet, celebrating the fall of the Final Order.
In truth, and thanks to Michael, we learn there was something much more thoughtful going on there than a simple father/son happenstance. We learn they were having a heart to heart about the ways of their world, as Wicket was attempting to impress upon his son the importance of simply being.
It was a backdoor conversation of also a father trying to protect and shield his son form the realities of a sometimes-harsh galaxy. You see, Wicket was more concerned with the “silver triangle” parked in the sky, and how it reminded him of the old days, of dread, of loss…of war. So, it was with great relief that the shape, which is commonly known throughout the galaxy as a Star Destroyer, disappeared forever, prompting the now elder Ewok to say…
“That, my son, is a blessed sign of the Golden One.”
It's a great moment that I’m glad Michael included and alone makes it worth the price, which is very low by the way at $6.99. The price point is wholly appropriate because the book does have a lower word count and skips past a few events, and breezes through the rest. But don't kid yourself as it's more than just simply a condensed version of other efforts.
Michael gets to add to the lore in some cases with one moment standing out for me, taking place early on when Kylo Ren first arrives on Exogol. Remember those giant statues we see in the Citadel? You know the ones and thanks to Michael we have names for them now…Locphet, Mindran, Sissiri, Felkor, and Sadow.
If you’ve been paying close attention, then the last one should be familiar for two reasons. First, this is the EU Sith Lord Naga Sadow from the “Tales of the Jedi” Dark Horse series, and second, there is a location on Exogol called the “Sadow Escarpment”, presumably named after him. The others appear to be new additions to the Sith library of ancient evildoers so perhaps we’ll get some further context down the road.
So, it's kyber crystal clear is that Michael is well read, or at least had access to several other Star Wars works, “The Rise of Skywalker: Visual Dictionary” by Pablo Hidalgo chief among them. But for someone who toils in the world of RPG’s, details matter, so it’s no surprise everything gets a moniker here, not just a place name.
My favorite of these references is a small, but fun one. He mentions a mission to the planet Minfar that Rey and Poe went on, one where they bonded, before the events in TROS. This is from a great book called “Spark of the Resistance” which was written by one of my favorite Star Wars authors, Justina Ireland (Lando’s Luck)!
So, after all that, the question will most certainly be asked, what’s the point of another TROS book? We’ve got the film, the expanded edition and its audiobook, the visual dictionary, the “Art of…”, I mean, how many ways can they tell the same story?
His prologue/epilogue gives you a very abridged oral history of the Skywalker Saga, which does add some fabric to the story you are reading. I suppose Michael’s assumption is that if you’re reading this, and it's your first foray into Star Wars, a little context is necessary. So, in that sense, it does a good job as a jumping-off point for blossoming Young Adult readers or Star Wars newbies.
And it does make for a nice sidecar in the parent/child Star Wars co-reads, where the adult has The Rise of Skywalker Expanded Edition to ruminate on. After having broadened the story, Rae Carson’s Expanded Edition, which came out in March, gave us deleted and original scenes, and offered up more insight into the minds of the characters. So, any questions the younger reader might have, or any scenes they may want “expanded” upon, the YA book of the same name is waiting for them.
I find those lines well blurred these days, especially once you get to the middle-grade category, and I can’t decide if this book was money well spent on the part of Disney Books. But the fact is, as the synopsis states, this book DOES contain deleted/extended scenes and includes a couple of bits you won’t find anywhere else, so again, at $6.99, it’s way past the point of worth picking up.
The bottom line is, if you’re one of those types who needs to know the entire story, and wants to know every single detail, then reading this is time well spent. And at 218 pages, including eight pages of full color screenshots, you’ll have no problem getting through it in a day.
And I suspect, you’ll be mostly glad you did.
“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Junior Novel” is published by Lucasfilm-Disney Publishing and is available now wherever books are sold. You can order a copy today by clicking HERE!
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