the force awakens novelization

A few days ago, we took a deep dive into the unanswered questions of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And let’s face it: like it or not, the latest episode in the Star Wars saga has a lot of questions in desperate need of answers. Some of them feel like deliberate mysteries that will be addressed in future films. Others feel like the result of a few difficult editing decisions, where details were shed to keep the momentum of the film rolling at all costs.

So now, you have two options going forward. You can patiently sit around and twiddle your thumbs and wonder what Rian Johnson will reveal in Star Wars: Episode 8…or you can dive into all of the canon novels that may provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

The internet has already taken a deep dive into the Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization by legendary genre writer Alan Dean Foster, who has written his fair share of Star Wars books (including the original novelization of the original 1977 movie). As expected, the book is filled with additional information at the state of the universe and the characters inhabiting it. Some of these details add fascinating color to the story. Others feel like deleted scenes that will eventually show up on a future Blu-ray and DVD. A few bits here and there feel like necessary information that should have been included in the final film.

So how about we sort through it and see what we find?

The folks over at Star Wars News Net have assembled a long (and spoiler-filled) examination of Foster’s novelization. If their post is any indication, many of the rough edges in the final film are smoothed over in the book, which will certainly give Star Wars obsessives a reason to slow their breathing just a little. If you want to take a deep dive into what separates the finished film from its novelization, you should click that link. We’re going to hit up a few of the highlights.

the resistance

What Is Up With The New Republic?

First up, the novelization addresses one of the film’s biggest narrative question marks head on – what, exactly, is up with the New Republic and why does it matter that the First Order wipes them off the map? It turns out that governing body of the known galaxy had a large, battle-ready fleet that was also turned to space dust along with all of the politicians. This the First Order is now the biggest military power in the universe and the scrappy Resistance is all that stands in its way. Sound familiar? Details:

It is also mentioned that the Republic has a substantial fleet that is wiped out when the First Order detonate the Starkiller and wipe out the Hosnian system. This was another point I thought was not underscored enough in The Force Awakens. Whatever Republic was being rebuilt over the last few decades since shortly after Return of the Jedi, is now dust, for the most part. Something mentioned by Leia shortly after the detonation of Starkiller; the Resistance and the First Order are all that remain in terms of military powers, and that if there is a conflict between them, the Resistance is not strong enough to defeat the First Order without the Republic’s fleet.

luke-skywalker-jedi

Why Is Snoke Afraid Of Luke Skywalker?

The novelization also reveals more about Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), the mysterious, scarred mastermind behind the First Order whose role in the finished film is a little baffling. It turns out this all-powerful menace, a guy capable of raising a gigantic army, turning a planet into a weapon, and turning Ben Solo against his parents, is very afraid of someone we know and love:

One thing is much clearer in the book than the film: Snoke is afraid of Luke Skywalker. In his final conversation with Kylo Ren, before Rey escapes, Snoke is prepared to destroy an entire system so no one finds where Luke is, himself included. Destroying the Resistance is Hux’s motivation, but he is practical, seeing that the system has vital resources the First Order could use. Snoke will have none of it. Destroy the system so that no one can ever find Luke Skywalker. It may appear bold and sadistic in the film, but in the novel, it reads as desperate. Snoke constantly speaks to either destroying Luke via Kylo Ren or the First Order’s military, or making sure Luke stays where he is.

rey and bb8

Who Are Rey’s Parents?

The internet instantly erupted into fan theories the moment the credits rolled on the first screenings of The Force Awakens, but the most ardent discussions have revolved around the unknown parentage of Daisy Ridley‘s Rey. While Foster’s novelization doesn’t solve the mystery, it does offer up a few extra hints. Unless the folks behind the saga are throwing us a wild curveball, it’s starting to look like this hyper-competent desert scavenger is definitely a long-lost Skywalker, possibly even the daughter of Luke. There is an additional line of Kylo Ren dialogue, delivered after his failed attempt to probe Rey’s mind, that suggests such:

The biggest hints at Rey’s Skywalker lineage are from Kylo Ren’s perceptions of Rey. Just like the film, Kylo is noticeably shaken when, in addition to his inability to probe Rey’s mind as much as he would like, she can get inside of his. My, and many fans reading, will probably note another line of dialogue in the novelization that was absent from the film. It’s the moment when Kylo Ren calls Luke’s lightsaber to him and it flies right past him and into Rey’s hands. In the novelization, Kylo says to himself, “It is you”. To me, this says Kylo knew Rey or a direct descendant of Luke Skywalker was out there. Perhaps it was the one thing he kept from Snoke, whether that was Ben Solo keeping it from Snoke or Kylo, it seems Rey’s ability in the Force makes something CLICK in Kylo Ren’s head. Again, nothing solid, but much more brow raising when you read it in print. I won’t hypothesize the why or how Kylo may know, but I think this strongly suggests he does, and that is another reason the line was eventually cut from the film.

vader

Darth Vader’s Redemption Is Dismissed

Meanwhile, over in that wretched hive of scum and villainy known as Reddit, fans starting searching the novelization for references to Darth Vader and how his legacy has impacted his enemies and admirers. In one fascinating passage, the dramatic and moving redemption of Anakin Skywalker at the conclusion of Return of the Jedi is dismissed by Snoke, who sees his heroic turn as a moment of weakness for an amazing man:

“Kylo Ren, I watched the Galactic Empire rise, and then fall. The gullible prattle on about the triumph of truth and justice, of individualism and free will. As if such things were solid and real instead of simple subjective judgments. The historians have it all wrong. It was neither poor strategy nor arrogance that brought down the Empire. You know too well what did.” Ren nodded once. “Sentiment.” “Yes. Such a simple thing. Such a foolish error of judgment. A momentary lapse in an otherwise exemplary life. Had Lord Vader not succumbed to emotion at the crucial moment—had the father killed the son—the Empire would have prevailed. And there would be no threat of Skywalker’s return today.”

force awakens starkiller base

How Starkiller Base Works

In another excellent post, io9 recounted the 11 biggest differences between The Force Awakens and Foster’s novelization, shedding more light on what could have been…and what may have been cut from the film (and there’s a lot more if you follow that link). But first, they address something that the film doesn’t address – just how the hell Starkiller Base works. It’s not necessary information, but it’s cool to know that it’s a little more than “big laser blast blows up planets”:

Starkiller Base doesn’t shoot a gigantic beam, but a ball of energy that is shot through sub-hyperspace, making it disappear just outside of the base, and then reappear just outside of its intended target. The ball of energy supercharges the target planet’s core, making it go supernova and burn up any nearby planets in the ensuing explosion.

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