So I’ve just finished reading The Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson, and I have to say, it was a wonderful read. Not because it’s Great Literature (though she does a fine job with it), but because it adds so much to the story.
Some fans feel that the movie is a rushed mess, that there’s no context in many scenes, and the editing was terrible. I don’t disagree with this; but at two and a half hours already, there’s just so much you can put in there.
That’s where a great novelization comes in.
Here’s my list of Really Interesting Things in the book that’s not in the movie but would have been awesome to see:
- Leia gets more attention. Obviously, with Carrie Fisher’s death, we were lucky to get what we did in the film. And while it’s amazing what they did with what they had, the book is able to give her more attention, especially her scenes with Rey. We get see her thoughts on thinking back to her training with Luke, and more memories with Ben as a baby. More importantly, I think, we see that Luke has been speaking with her from beyond, telling her “It’s time,” as in, time to die. “Not yet,” she keeps replying, reluctant to let go of her responsibilities. She also still wants to try to reach Ben, to show him she still loves him. “Then tell him,” Luke says, and that’s when she reaches out, and Kylo begins his journey back to Ben Solo.
- The Webbish Bog on Mustafar. At the very beginning of the film, when Kylo scythes through all those aliens to get to the Wayfinder, it’s a little confusing as to what exactly he’s doing and why. The book includes an extended scene of Kylo finding a strange being in a bog: a huge bald head emerges from the water with a spidery being attached to its skull, a symbiotic but painful relationship that’s a bit horrifying. The spidery thing tells Kylo that he’s earned Vader’s Wayfinder, but if he continues on this path, he’ll encounter his true self. Hmmm….The scene also has Hux and Pryde watching from afar and commenting on Kylo’s actions. Hux is impatient with Kylo’s mystical shenanigans, as usual, but Pryde comments that Ren’s carnage is “almost a thing of beauty.” We see the stark contrast between these two men immediately, and that Pryde, older and with Imperial ties, may have some sympathy with the old ideas of the Force, the Jedi, and the Sith.
- Lando’s child. We get more from Lando, too, including his thinking back about losing his own child, a young daughter, to the First Order. This would have cleared up my confusion on first seeing the film, at the end when Lando asks Janna about her home system. Not necessarily that he might be her father (C3PO wouldn’t have very good odds on that), but just why he would be so interested in helping others find their original homes. It’s personal to him. “They got their revenge by turning our children against us,” he says earlier in the film, to Rey and her companions. We also get to see him reminiscing aboard the Millenium Falcon, and being outraged that his cloak closet had been converted to something else. The nerve!
- Kylo Ren interrogates Chewie. When Chewie is taken aboard Ren’s ship, he probes the Wookie’s mind to find out where Rey is. He gets that info, but he also sees more than he bargained for: Chewie’s warm, tender memories of young Ben Solo, the toddler cuddling the big furry lug, Chewie teaching him things, and just basically how Chewie loved him. It makes Kylo nauseous, and clearly affects him deeply. We get to see that these two had a relationship in the past; Chewie isn’t just an afterthought.
- Zorii’s escape from Kijimi. We get an extended scene of Zorii escaping Kijimi before the First Order blows it up. We meet the people in her gang, including a young girl named Lluda. Zorii originally was going to take Lluda with her, but the girl decides to stay and helps her escape instead. I’m guessing the girl died on the planet when it blew up. This, along with the death of other friends, may be why Zorii decided to join the fight of the Resistance at battle of Exegol.
- Getting into the heads of Rey and Ben at the end. The scenes with Rey and Ben as they face the Emperor, and then Ben’s reviving of Rey, and his subsequent death, are pretty much the same as in the film, but it’s wonderful to get into their heads as all this is going on. We get a better sense of how they feel as they realize the true nature of their shared connection; in fact, they realize they’d been “robbed” of this very special bond, and that it had only been a twisted version that they’d been living thus far. It adds to the tragedy of the whole thing, but we get a better sense of satisfaction in knowing the intimate nature of their bond. Most importantly–and this absolutely should have been in the movie–after Ben dies, Rey hears his voice say, “I will always be with you.” And Rey thinks, No one is ever really gone. Geez, that would have added, what, 5 seconds to the film? Why couldn’t we have seen that?! It’s so much more satisfying than what we got, a more complete sense of closure.
Those are the big things that stood out, but there were some little things that were delightful to read, such as:
- At one point, Kylo Ren refers, in his thoughts, to Rey’s “lovely face.” Bae is pretty!
- Poe reminds himself to ask Lando about his awesome cape. I can so see Poe wanting a cape.
- Rey’s original idea about her own lightsaber was to make a double-bladed one–the very kind she saw Dark Rey using. Probably why she changed her mind and went with the single blade.
- Hux hates Ren’s hair! Absolutely. Hates. It. Its messy length goes against everything he believes in: order, order, order; and he muses on the idea of making Ren cut it off when he, Hux, is in charge. I thought this was a great tidbit.
Have you read the TROS novelization? What did you think? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!