Is the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story novelisation as good as the film? Read on.
“Do, or do not. There is no try” – Master Yoda, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back.
This was the case for Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and the brave few who made up the alliance against the Galactic Empire in the original trilogy. It was no different for Jyn Erso and her fellow rebels who chose to embark on a mission with a purpose: to steal the plans for the Empire’s new weapon; a planet killer, the Death Star.
Make no mistake: Rogue One was a damn-good movie and something different from what Star Wars is usually about. That’s what makes Alexander Freed’s novelisation even more special, as it improves the film and adds more shine to this already terrific story. If you’re unfamiliar with the movie’s plot, it takes place between Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Here, we meet a group of new Star Wars characters to fall in love with and some familiar returning foes (start humming the tune).
Unlike the film, though, the novelisation shows us the story through first-person accounts of several protagonists and antagonists (yes, including Darth Vader). This provides a richer narrative, where we understand the characters’ motivations and thoughts—something beyond the simple good versus evil plot of the film. It allows us into their minds, perhaps even allowing us to sympathise with the antagonists at times.
Additionally, Freed dives deeper into the psyche of the characters. He explores Jyn’s unresolved hatred and disappointment in her father, for example. In her mind, her father is dead to her, and this is something that wasn’t conveyed as strongly in the film. Her father, Galen, also receives a well-rounded treatment, as we learn more about him and his rationale, causing his (spoiler alert!) death to hits us even harder.
The character development in the book draws the reader in, as well as provides continuity that connects the book to both the prequel and original trilogies. It plays all the right emotional cues. Complicated relationships between parent and child? Check. Fear leading to anger? Check. Anger leading to hate? Check. Hate leading to suffering? Check. The path to the dark side is already laid at Jyn Erso’s feet, but as a welcome departure, she chooses to shake off the weight of the galaxy that was unwillingly forced on her, makes peace with her father’s choices, and follows his clues to embrace her own destiny.
Overall, Freed shows his expert knowledge of the Star Wars universe in this Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Novelisation. The film was jam-packed with so many characters and subplots, yet he was able to channel all of this, improve on it, and give us an even better story. With the DVD and Blu-ray release of Rogue One set to arrive later this month, you might as well grab a copy of the book while you’re at it, too. You won’t be disappointed.