Hello, everyone! I have a special post today – I convinced one of my good friends, Mariah, to guest post! She’s a giant Star Wars fan and recently finished reading The Rise of Skywalker, so I asked her if she’d like to review it for the blog. If you have any questions/comments, she’ll be in the comments to talk!
Hi, everyone! My name is Mariah, and Katie asked me to collaborate with her on my own book review. I currently work with Katie at Books-A-Million, and I’m an avid reader – my choice of genre being sci-fi. That being said, this is my first ever book review or blog post for that matter, so I am a little nervous. I think Katie is absolutely crazy for asking me to do this, so please bear with me. I hope you enjoy!
Not only am I a lover of books, but I’m also an avid Star Wars Fangirl! What is a fangirl?! Well, it is just what is sound like: girls that are fans! Growing up I was always told Star Wars, comic books, or even video games were meant for boys. I was called a nerd or geek for even liking such things – words that were meant to make us feel bad for liking things that made us happy. Which is simply NOT true. Fandom is not reserved for just one gender, being a geek/nerd is okay. Being different is okay, as long as you have confidence in yourself! That’s what being a fan/fangirl is all about! And in stressful times like we are in now, we need things to help us destress. During my COVID-19 quarantine, I have been using Star Wars as my escape from reality – something I have avidly been doing since 1997. So, Katie thought since the DVD of Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker is now available to everyone, it would be fun do a review on the book in comparison to the movie. Since Katie doesn’t know a damn thing about Star Wars, that’s where I come in! If I haven’t completely lost you yet, hold on tight and get ready to light speed ahead to a Galaxy far, far away!
Your enjoyment of the book is going to be reflected by the your enjoyment of the movie. Therefore, because I really enjoyed the film, I really enjoyed the book. With TROS being the final establishment in the Skywalker Saga, nine movies in total, it was a bittersweet moment for me. Twenty-five years of my life had finally come to a close, and it was a beautiful experience. After the movie had ended, I knew I had to get the movie novelization. I have read Star Wars novels that were side stories and adventures of fan favorite characters, but this was my first time reading a movie novelization. Rae Carson was not given easy task, but she executed it very well! It doesn’t fix the problems some “fans” had with the movie – which is OKAY because it wasn’t Carson’s job to do so. She does however add MORE: more context, more internal monologue, more dialogue between characters to scenes that could’ve really used them in the film. But her biggest strength is the ability to SLOW things down! If you are someone that hasn’t seen the movie since it was out in theaters, I would suggest watching the movie again, and then dive into the book. Let the book guide you, surround you.
The Rise of Skywalker is an end to a forty year saga, and you can feel those final lines by the end of the story. But like I said, it takes care of pacing issues that the film had. You really get a sense of Rey’s struggle with the Darkside more when you get a glimpse of what is really going on inside her head. Like with Rey, the book gives us more of Kylo Ren’s struggle with his past, too. We get an insight of his life as Ben Solo, something a lot of fans wanted to see more of on film. We also get more Babu Frik, who happened to be one of the breakout characters from TROS.
(Harry Potter fans may enjoy this: Babu Frik is voiced by Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter films, RANDOM RIGHT?!!)
The home DVD release doesn’t include any deleted scenes, which is upsetting because I was hoping some of them were scenes that were in the book that I really enjoyed. Every time a new scene would happened, I would be focused. The book included extra moments with Zorii Bliss and Lando, as well as adding a new character, Chesille Sabrond captain of the Star Destroyer Derriphan on Exegol. We also got a better understanding of how Emperor Palpatine survived and why he was still alive. (I won’t spoil why right now, I’ll add those to a spoilers section.) But my over all favorite moment, is a scene shared by Chewbacca and Kylo Ren. Without spoiling too much we get a sweet “Uncle Chewie” moment with a flashback from Kylo as young Ben Solo. It’s a scene I wish we could’ve gotten in the movie. If you were someone that wanted more Ben Solo out of the film, you will get it from the book. Not as much as you might like, but enough! When he sacrifices himself to save Rey, it will make any Reylo fans’ (Rey & Kylo fan-shippers) hearts break even more. Princess Leia’s (Sorry General Leia) role works a lot better in the novelization. That’s no fault to be creators of the TROS film, for the late Carrie Fisher died in late 2016 – a year before Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (TLJ). When originally planning the new trilogy, Lucas Films originally stated that the first movie, The Force Awakens (TFA), would be Han Solo’s film. The second (TLJ) would be Luke’s, and the third would be Leia’s. Carson wasn’t limited to only unused footage from the first two films. She gives Leia more scenes, and they were an overall highlight! We were given more details about her training with Luke and her experiences with the Force.
I will say I understand why a lot of fans did not like The Rise Of Skywalker or the sequel trilogy entirely. Even though Star Wars has released novelizations of each feature film since 1977, fans didn’t have to read extra content to understand the movies of the same title. The novels didn’t add anything, and they also never took anything away either. We understand what was happening in the films, and George Lucas (original creator of Star Wars) answered those questions we were asking onscreen. The sequel trilogy lacked those elements on film, and that’s probably why fans didn’t love them as much. Star Wars was different! Unlike how most films are book adaptations, SW is a complete screenplay, and the novels and comics were extra. We shouldn’t have to go to extra source material to understand the film better, but that is the marketing world we live in. That being said, Rae Carson doesn’t get enough praise as she should for her work on the novelization of TROS. Overall she brought more in depth understanding of the characters and made them more personal than what is played out on film. I feel like you will find the novel to be a good companion, or should I say Dyad, despite how you feel about the movie itself.
Now, after all that, this is when I start getting into the SPOILERS. So, if you don’t want the book elements to be spoiled, this is your stop. Now you Rebel scums that stuck around this long with me, thank you! Assuming you have watched The Rise of Skywalker, read the novel yourself, or you don’t mind spoilers (SHAME!!!), this next part I’m going to talk about has some spoilers from the book and scenes the movie left out. Hopefully I can give you a better explanation of why things happened in The Rise of Skywalker. I’m not going to give them all away, just some of the ones I feel are important and were my favorite. So last warning… God Speed Rebels!
The novel starts off with Rey versus the film starting off at the scene of Kylo Ren. About a year has passed between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, and not much is different between the first time we see Rey in the film versus the first time we see her in the book. We do you get more of an exchange with Leia as a Jedi master. We get a longer version of Leia’s flashback scene of her Jedi training, and we get to see her Skywalker side. We get to see how powerful Leia really is with the Force – something sadly we did not get to experience in the film. Leia knows she’s at the end of her life, and she hears Luke calling to her telling her “It’s time.” Leia being classic Leia doesn’t take orders from anyone when she knows she can do more to help others, so she lets Luke know she had “one more thing to do”. We also get a Rey and Rose exchange, which is a missed opportunity in the movie. It is very rare you see female-female interactions/friendships in a Star Wars film. It’s a scene like that I would have really liked to see play out in the movie.
Now on to Adam… I mean Kylo Ren! Kylo’s introduction is much like in the movie, VERY INTENSE! Carson was able to add more intensity than what played out on film. We learn Kylo is on the planet Mustafar, which already brings more depth into the scene because this was the same planet the final battle between Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker occurred in Episode III. Anakin had turned to the Darkside, becoming Darth Vader. We didn’t know where he was until after the movie had already come out, and Lucas Films informed us that Kylo was in fact on Mustafar. Knowing would’ve made the scene even more intense because he was battling on the ruins of Vader’s Castle, where his grandfather called home. Kylo is met by an oracle named the Eye of Webbish Bog, a creepy spider-like creature, and Force Whill, a creature that really makes you feel uncomfortable. The oracle reveals to Kylo something called the Wayfinder, an ancient pieces of technology created by both the Jedi and Sith. Kylo does state how easy it was for him to obtain the Wayfinder, he then concludes it’s because he was Vader’s heir and it belonged to him. Knowing this gives you a better understanding on the point made in the movie on why “only two were made” – one for the Master and for the Apprentice. Vader kept his Wayfinder on Mustafar, revealing itself to his grandson. And The Emperor kept his on the Death Star, later revealing itself to his granddaughter… Rey!
Okay, now the major question… HOW DID PALPATINE SURVIVE? Well SPOILER… Palpatine is a CLONE! Palpatine is living in a clone body, and his son, Rey’s father, was also a clone. More specifically an imperfectclone, not an identical copy of Palpatine. Rey’s father had no force-willing capabilities, therefore he was deemed useless.We learn that Palpatine’s clone body was unnatural and not powerful enough to hold Palpatine’s full spirit/power. He was able to cheat death by sending his spirit to a clone body on Exegol, as he was falling to his death in Episode VI. We also learn when the Clone Son conceived Rey the natural way, it created a perfect vessel to hold Palpatine’s spirit. If you are new to the Star Wars universe and your only experience to the movies is just the sequels trilogies, the whole Emperor coming back is a bit confusing.
The last thing I want to talk about is Kylo/Ben Solo and Rey’s connection, and that the book shows the importance of the Dyad in the Force. A dyad in the Force is a phenomenon that occurs when two Force-sensitive individuals share a unique Force-bond, connecting their minds across space and time… soulmates!! This power is very rare. Palpatine thinks he is able to use this against Rey, but he misses the key components: love and empathy. You are bonded with someone. The book explains the dyad to be a soulmate connection without actually using the word “soulmate”. If you are a Reylo shipper, that will make you happy. It doesn’t necessarily mean a romantic soulmate, but maybe it could. In theory, maybe there used to be a way that Jedi used to teach the force with a dyad, but we don’t know for sure.
With all of that, let’s talk about THE KISS. I will start by saying that I am a sucker for happy endings and love wins all, therefore I am a Reylo supporter. I believe in the Ben Solo redemption. I was disappointed in the fact that the author didn’t come out and say the kiss between Ben and Rey was a romantic one. I believe it was something that needed to be clarified in the book, but, once again, you are left to interpret whether it was or wasn’t. On film that was a romantic kiss to me. In the books, Carson writes it for Rey as being a “kiss of gratitude”, but for Ben it was more “endearment”. So, what? He was friend zoned?! While reading the scene I still interpreted it as an act of love. I feel like why we never got a clear explanation is because of Hollywood. For some reason, Hollywood movies and shows don’t like to show powerful women in a happy relationship or in one at all. Either she is isolated and doesn’t have a love interest at all, or she is at odds with the other person who typically is played out as her equal. My favorite thing (sarcasm, definitely) is when they kill off a loved one/s, and in her pain/loss, she gains her strength – which is bullshit! I’m not wanting a damsel in distress, but I also don’t want a total “I don’t need anybody.” I’d like a happy medium. Powerful woman can have a love interest. A partner doesn’t take that power away from them.
No more spoilers! In conclusion, my overall thoughts of the book were positive. In many ways, the Skywalker saga is about love and family, the inner conflict between the Lightside and the Darkside, and the Force that connects one another into a balance. At the end of the film, we see a parallel moment between Rey and Luke watching the twin sunsets, which is a nice way to connect the stories.
Thank you for reading, I do hope you enjoyed my first ever book review! Thank you, Katie, for asking me to do this collaboration with you. I look forward to hearing your comments and questions! May The Force Be With You!
Mariah D Carley
Like she said, comments/questions are welcomed below! Make sure to follow Mariah on her socials listed below, and go leave her some love!