The Rise of Skywalker

By Rae Carson

The Rise of Skywalker, a novel by Rae Carson
Book details Books in the series

The movie tie in novel is much maligned but I have always had a soft spot for them. I have spent many a pleasurable hour with the works of tie in master Alan Dean Foster who was able to improve several mediocre films with his prose. Films are great at bombastic action, but they often fail to convey the inner workings of the characters. A book based on the film is the perfect opportunity to rectify this. The Rise of Skywalker is one of the biggest action films ever, but it is also the finale of an epic storyline. Can Rae Carson do both the action and the characters proud? 

The end is near. With the fall of the Emperor the Rebels thought they had already achieved success, but the march of The New Order put pay to this. Now the Rebels are even more ragtag than ever before with only a handful of fighter planes to rely on and a single trainee Jedi. With Rey being drawn to Kylo Ren will she end up siding with the light or the dark? Her destiny will decide the fate of all. 

I have enjoyed the recent Star Wars films but found that they leaned a little too heavily on the George Lucas originals for tone and direction. Rise is the final opportunity to make the new trilogy stand on their own merit and it does. The book and film rely heavily on what has gone on before, but it is packed with exciting new moments and twists that will help define it. 

From a narrative point of view, it feels like an action film in written form. There are some stellar action sequences as mass space battles fill the page as they much as the screen. Carson does an amiable job of recreating the dog fighting of X Wings and Tie Fighters but is no match for the cinema. This would always be the case as you are competing against the visual splendour of one of the most accomplished VFX studios of all time. Where Carson can provide added value is with the characters. 

The major part of the Skywalker Saga has been the concept of family, both blood and formed via friendship. Here Carson shines. We are given glimpses into the minds of the likes of Chewbacca, Finn and Poe. It fleshes out their motives and gives nuance to some of the smaller moments that could have been lost on the screen. Where the most development is done is the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren. This is a complex one and by understanding their mindset allows a richer conflict to develop. Although the action cannot compete in the book, I do feel that the emotional impact towards the end was equal. 

There was a fear that some of the great twists and cameos would be lost in the novelisation, but Carson is equal to this. There are moments of shock in this book that will have readers agasp if they have yet to see the film. Perhaps a little throwaway on the cinema, they are given a little more time to breath in the book. I for one was interested to understand a little more about the mindset of one or two of my favourite characters as they met their fate.  

Who would the novelisation of The Rise of Skywalker appeal to? Star Wars mega fans will just love it as it is more Star Wars. I think the people who will get the most out of the book are those that did not get the chance to see the film at the cinema and those that did but want to know more. The main beats of the film are all present in the book and the various impactful moments are not lost. On screen some sections felt a little rushed as if editing was in play to keep the movie goer interested. Carson has developed character, motive and relationships slightly more to give deeper insight into the story. Watch the film for the action, read the book for the heart.  

Written on 30th March 2020 by .

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