Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Teen review: The Force Awakens as a book!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
by Alan Dean Foster
272 pages
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Star Wars saga movie novelizations

Reviewed by Michael Zhang, Grade 12

Needless to say, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the movie event of 2015, making countless dollars and smashing box office records well into the new year. With Star Wars hype at critical mass and the new movie carrying on the Star Wars saga, I thought I’d review the novelization of The Force Awakens to see whether or not it is a worthy entry into the Star Wars novel canon. The answer? A resounding yes, with some caveats.

Generally, I’m not a gigantic fan of movie novelizations, but for The Force Awakens, I’m going to have to make an exception. Traditional movie novelizations tend to be carbon copies of the original film, but dumbed down for a younger readership, but from my first and second readings, I really didn’t feel any of that. The main characters--Rey, Finn, and Poe--are all just as captivating on the written page as they are onscreen, and it shows. Rey, in particular, is even more fascinating in the written word, as we get to see her inner monologue, thoughts, and other goodies in ways we would’ve only been able to guess at on screen.

But just being a good adaptation isn’t enough to set The Force Awakens’ novelization apart. Being a novel and not bound by the time constraints of a feature film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has several scenes that did not show up in the theatrical cut of the feature film, giving us even more reasons to enjoy the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel, and it was a great read, especially coming right back from the movie theater. It definitely wasn’t perfect, and flaws from the movie may come back to haunt you in the novel (though I think that the novel does a lot to address many flaws that viewers of the movie may notice), but I enjoyed it, and the boons of the movie are alive and well in the novel, whether it be the charm of Rey, the chilling power of Kylo Ren, or the sly charisma of Han Solo.

I’d rate it a 4/5, if only because while I admire Alan Dean Foster’s work with Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, I do feel that in some parts of this novel you could tell that it was adapted from a film script in terms of prose and descriptive vocabulary; however, that by no means hampered my ability to enjoy the novel.

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