Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed (2016)
Fiction | Sci-Fi
“Go beyond the film with a novelization featuring new scenes and expanded material.
As the shadows of the Empire loom ever larger across the galaxy, so do deeply troubling rumors. The Rebellion has learned of a sinister Imperial plot to bring entire worlds to their knees. Deep in Empire-dominated space, a machine of unimaginable destructive power is nearing completion. A weapon too terrifying to contemplate . . . and a threat that may be too great to overcome.
If the worlds at the Empire’s mercy stand any chance, it lies with an unlikely band of allies: Jyn Erso, a resourceful young woman seeking vengeance; Cassian Andor, a war-weary rebel commander; Bodhi Rook, a defector from the Empire’s military; Chirrut Imwe, a blind holy man and his crack-shot companion, Baze Malbus; and K-2SO, a deadly Imperial droid turned against its former masters. In their hands rests the new hope that could turn the tide toward a crucial Rebellion victory–if only they can capture the plans to the Empire’s new weapon.
But even as they race toward their dangerous goal, the specter of their ultimate enemy–a monstrous world unto itself–darkens the skies. Waiting to herald the Empire’s brutal reign with a burst of annihilation worthy of its dreaded name: Death Star.”
pooled ink Review:
Rogue One is one of my favorite, if not my top favorite, Star Wars movie so is it really any surprise that I loved the novelization? I went into this book already knowing I’d love the plot because I’d seen the film and this does a really good job of sticking close to the script but as it’s a novel we get so much more!
The action, the heart, the wit, the grit, etc. is all contained in these pages as Freed does an exceptional job of translating stunning visuals into ink on paper. And, perhaps simply because I’m a natural lover of books, this made me love Rogue One even more than I already did! I enjoy pretty much every genre I’ve ever tried and science fiction is no exception but I am rather particular so I was relieved when Freed’s writing managed to maintain an engaging pace that brought new insight into the movie. While you get a fictional world turned to SFX reality when a story becomes a movie, when it becomes a book you get all the private thoughts of the characters you weren’t privy to before and I love that.
So if you’ve seen the movie then you’ll be well familiar with the story but I don’t feel that that hinders the enjoyment of reading it in the slightest. As I mentioned, you get to hear all of their thoughts, feelings, and impressions which contributes another layer to the story-telling. Furthermore we get to spend time in several POVs which are interchanged seamlessly. It’s written with a natural flow from POV to POV but I’m thrilled by it because we not only get to hear the heroes’ secrets but the villains’ too. Gah! I love it!
I admit though, I find it difficult to write a book review on something I first knew as a movie. Not sure why but all I seem able to comment on is how this novelization compares to the original film – If you’re interested in movie-oriented thoughts then you can read my movie review here: Rogue One (2016) (Warning: it contains some spoilers).
But briefly I shall say…
As a Star Wars story I feel it did an excellent job of crafting a bit of background Rebel work that leads up to the most important moment, a turning point in the Rebel’s battle against the Empire. Stories always focus on the big flashy characters (e.g. Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader) who have obvious substantial roles and while this is endlessly entertaining I found it intriguing to dive behind the scenes. Rogue One follows a daughter of a war criminal working for the Empire to create the Death Star, a Rebel spy, a snarky droid, an Imperial pilot turned traitor, and a smattering of other characters both familiar and new. We get glimpses of the big wigs but this story really focuses on a small unlikely group of allies who secure the Rebel’s saving hope. Sure the stars get to have the grand delivery and congratulations but it is these unexpected heroes who make it possible. Every battle needs a face, but this story takes a moment to appreciate the fighters who give their blood to feed it. And not just the good guys, but the baddies too. Do you ever wonder what the underlings think of their grand master and his plans?
While the Star Wars series combines action with good ol’ fashioned save-the-day clichés that we all love, Rogue One remains a war tale. It somehow lacks that gentle glimmer of naivety and good guy hope, rather it faces facts as they are. Jyn, Cassian, Bodhi, Baze, and Chirrut know precisely what is at stake and what they must do. They are the soldiers in the trenches, fighting on the ground for the greater good, not for any dream or gain but because they know they are history’s brief shadows who have fallen into the unexpected position of turning the tide of war if they choose to defy their pasts, ignore their debatable insignificance, and forge onwards. There is no time for starry-eyed What If’s, just alliance that grows into camaraderie, grim determination that touches on hope, and faith in the Force no matter how devout or reserved. They are soldiers, not rulers, and for freedom they fight.
If you’re curious about whether to watch the movie first or read the book prior then I’d say that I don’t think it really matters. If you read it first then you’ll get to enjoy stunning cinematic visuals when you watch the movie and if you watch it first then you’ll enjoy unearthing deeper characterization and world-building when you read the book. Either way I love the story so much that I hope you’ll do at least one!
Purchase Here: Rogue One
My Movie Review: Rogue One: a Star Wars story