Brief Review - Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

"It is a period of civil war.
Rebel spaceships, striking
from a hidden base, have won
their first victory against
the evil Galactic Empire.

During the battle, Rebel
spies managed to steal secret
plans to the Empire's
ultimate weapon, the DEATH
STAR, an armored space
station with enough power
to destroy an entire planet."

Since the time we all first saw that opening crawl of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, many of us have wondered about the details regarding that battle and the brave rebel spies who stole the plans to the original Death Star. This review will assume that you have seen the movie that this novel is an adaptation of. 

If you haven't seen the movie, stop now. Spoilers ahead!

For those big into reading, "The book is better," is a very common term. I've found that this isn't always true for books written as an adaptation for a movie script rather than the other way around. The Rogue One adaptation by Alexander Freed is one of those that challenges that pattern for me.

This book adds an incredible amount of background information to the story of Rogue One and its characters. The beginnings of chapters often contain messages or memos sent between important figures that give incredible insight into behind-the-scenes action. These include messages between Galen, Krennic, and other Death Star design personnel, messages between Mon Mothma and other members of Alliance Command, and others.

The biggest jewel contained in the novel, hands down, is the motivation of all the characters involved. In a way that is easier for a book to do over a movie, you are given insight into the minds and thoughts of every major character involved including the main Rogue One team but also Saw, Mon Mothma, General Draven, Tarkin, Krennic, Galen, Lyra, and others. I learned a ton of information about the Alliance to Restore the Republic and Mon Mothma without any boring exposition or loss of pacing.

Each death of the main crew is made more poignant because you know each character so much better than you do just from watching the movie. I know about Bodhi Rook's history and the source of his many insecurities, not to mention the entire Bor Gullet scene actually makes sense, has repercussions, and fits into the story better. 

Chirrut is still my favorite character. I love his humor, dedication, and understand more about his religious connection to The Force of Others as he calls it, and his life as a Guardian of the Whills. (There is also some neat behind-the-scenes history behind that order, look it up on Wikipedia).

I could go on and on about each character and how much this book expands your understanding and appreciation of them, but really, you just need to go and read the book. If you like Star Wars, if you liked Rogue One at all, this is a true gem. Go read it.

Review of Catalyst - A Rogue One Novel by James Luceno (Spoiler Free)

Catalyst was a fantastic book, definitely one of the best of the new canon of Star Wars novels. It's a companion, prequel novel to the new Rogue One movie and tells the story of Jyn Urso's parents and the events that lead up to the moment you see them on their farm at the beginning of the movie.

This is the novel I was hoping Tarkin would be. It has a ton of universe building, and does an incredible job of tying together the scene in Episode 2 where you see Dooku with the image of the death star plans, and the Empire's eventual construction of the battle station before Episode 4. 

Galen and Lyra are easy to relate to, interesting enough to carry the story, and provide a good lens into what could have been a very boring novel. Lyra was the real star for me, though, and I was disappointed that the movie didn't do more with her. She was smart, kind, dedicated, loyal, and stood toe to toe against Krennic's manipulations and threats with a bold 'don't mess with my family' force of will that was powerful.

The novel also does a much better job of showing Krennic's skillful manipulation of both his fellow imperials and Galen and Lyra. He showcases Game of Thrones level mastery of political maneuvering and getting a principled scientist like Galen to build him a super-weapon. His cold war with Tarkin the entire book is just really fun to read.

The book does have a bit of a slow start, but it picks up relatively fast, and I enjoy how it bridges the Clone Wars time period into the beginning of the Empire period, which is something that hasn't been as well explored in other stories yet, so that was very welcome. 

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book. It dovetails perfectly into the movie and made Rogue One even better than I think it would have been.