Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have a real soft spot for books associated with movies and TV shows. I like to read novels made into film (usually before seeing the film). I like novelizations of films. I like tie-in books. This goes back at least as far as 1977 when, after going to the theatre to see Star Wars the first two times, I bought, devoured and enjoyed the novelization of it, attributed to George Lucas, but actually written by Alan Dean Foster.
Flash forward (mumble) years and there's a new Star Wars movie and a new novelization by Mr. Foster. I had to read it. I had to get it as soon as it came out. But something's wrong here. Everything from the screen is on the page, but not much more. And it's written so clumsily and sloppily that it's almost a chore to get through. Granted, the author was not working from the final cut of the movie and probably didn't have a lot of time. But he has some experience with tie-in novels of all sorts. I expected much more.
I also expected a bit more editing. Consider this gem, which is definitely not even the most egregious: "Hurrying to the cockpit as BB-8 rolled into the copiloting position, he hurriedly activated the controls." That's a lot of hurrying. There's also a lot of "as so-and-so does this, such-and-such does the other thing." Also, a lot of fancified language used for both narrative and dialog that does nothing to enhance the story, but often knocks the reader out of it. Why "aural receptors" or "bipedal shapes"? Is "raptorish" a word?
But the biggest gripe I have with the writing is the uninhibited head-hopping and viewpoint jumping that takes place. This is third-person omniscient at its worst. We are inside Finn's head, even when he is supposed to be the anonymous "trooper". In the next sentence, we are inside Kylo Ren's head, behind "preternaturally intense" eyes (hidden by the mask) considering "the trooper". It's just too much.
All in all, I am disappointed. If you've seen the film, skip the book. You already know everything. The one, tiny tidbit that I got from the book that was hinted at even more lightly in the film is the barest insinuation that other characters begin to recognize that Rei might be someone they have heard of before. Consider, '"It is you" Ren murmured.' (when Rei takes up the light saber). Otherwise, you have been warned. 3 stars. Because… Star Wars.
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