By: Alexandra Bracken
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Genre: Sci-Fi (Middle Grade)
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The galaxy is at war.
Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to finish building the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen-the Death Star. The rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy. . . .
Acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope like you’ve never experienced before. Since the premier of the original film, Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Luke Skywalker have become iconic, larger-than-life characters. The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy takes a deeper look at these three heroes as they join forces to defeat the evil that threatens their entire galaxy.
I don’t know how to fully put into words what I thought of this book. Star Wars has literally as long as I can remember been a part of my life, from watching the original trilogy back-to-back on VHS every few nights to the point where I can remember them pretty much word-for-word now, to the moment of unimaginably powerful silence when I first saw the Lucasfilm logo appear on my computer screen when I saw the first trailer for The Force Awakens and felt like I was ten years old again. On top of that, Alexandra Bracken is one of my absolute favourite authors. So this book ended up being really special to me in more ways than one. There’s not really a single thing about this book that I disliked. It fully captures the true heart of the original movie, while giving new layers and dimensions to our new heroes.
From here on, this review will contain spoilers for the movie and this book, so if you haven’t seen Star Wars or read this book, you should go do both of those things before you come back to read on!
The book opens up with a couple of chapters from Leia’s (the Princess’) point of view from where the movie kicks-off, depicting her giving R2 the message for Ben, to being captured by Vader and interrogated, and the destruction of Alderaan. After this we open up to a series of chapters from Han’s (the Scoundrel’s) point of view, picking up from inside the Mos Eisley Cantina as Han watches old Ben slice off the arm of Ponda Baba. Han’s narrative takes us through Luke’s training with Ben, onto the Death Star, into the garbage compactor, and finally to Ben’s sacrifice. To round off the novel, Luke’s (the Farm Boy’s) narrative takes us through his grief over Ben’s death, to his training as a pilot on Yarvin 4, and the ultimate epic battle in which Luke destroys the Death Star.
This book, for me, was pretty much 100% character driven. The story is there, and perhaps someone less familiar with Star Wars might think differently. The way I read it, the characters were definitely at the forefront. Throughout the three separate narrative sections, we learn so much more about our favourite heroes than the movie could possibly teach us. Leia’s chapters open with her contemplating how much she wanted to shove aside her title as ‘Princess’ as she wanted to be seen as more than a female figurehead. She wants to go out and be involved in the war, and the decision to steal the Death Star plans with the Rebellion was one she made in a heartbeat. Han’s narrative is the one I found most enjoyable, with his attitude as a snarky smuggler underlaid by his deep, unexpected morals. He would easily get into fights and manipulate people, but upon meeting Luke he can’t find it in himself to drag him–a teenager–through anything. He realises that he cares for Luke and Leia more than just for the reward that he’ll get for keeping them alive. Luke’s narrative skips the beginning of his story (meeting Ben, finding Owen and Beru murdered, etc), something which I was skeptical of at first but realised was great. We don’t need to see these things happening to truly understand how much they have affected Luke. We don’t actually get any of Luke and Ben’s interactions from Luke, but through his narrative it’s so easy to understand how much he meant to him. The characters and story were already so familiar to me, so ingrained that falling into this book was so easy. Alex doesn’t change any of the characters to suit her telling of this well-established tale, but she weaves her own special touch onto all of them that makes them very original and unique to read.
Like I said at the beginning of this review, I don’t really know what I can say to sum up how I felt about this book. There was something extremely special and emotional in reading this book knowing Alex Bracken’s history with the Star Wars series, and it’s clear throughout that she has a very deep knowledge of the universe. Her imagination adds to the original dimensions of Star Wars to bring the story and the characters to new levels, introducing them to youngin’s in a fresh new way that sticks to the soul that made the story special nearly forty years ago.