The long awaited novelization and junior novelization of The Last Jedi released today and I picked it up for Kindle last night. Although I haven’t had time to read it all, I have looked through it and a few things caught my eye. Spoilers for the adult novelization follow.
Overall, the book stays faithful to the movie and generally doesn’t go much beyond what’s shown in the film (with the exception of a number of new scenes). Whereas the junior novelization tried to explore what was going on in the character’s heads, the adult version generally sticks to what they’re doing, although Fry does a good job describing their emotional reactions. Where the book does suffer is in the inherent difficulty of translating film to text, particularly one that takes full advantage of all of the tools available to it as TLJ does (the mirror scene doesn’t quite translate for example).
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of adaptations of movies, particularly ones that are part of ongoing stories. The main issue is the novels are expected to only interpret the movie in the context of what’s been revealed in other sources, whereas the movie is free to be based on information that hasn’t been revealed yet. Therefore, while they won’t technically be contradictory, the interpretations found in the novelizations are highly likely to become obsolete as more information is released. What is of great interest, is information that couldn’t have originated with the author.
With that in mind, here are some things I’ve found interesting so far:
- The prologue is a dream that plays out as an alternate universe where Luke turns the droids over to the Empire and spends the rest of his life on Tatooine. Luke is married to Carnie (from ANH deleted scenes), but they never had children despite wanting them:
There’d never been children—a pain that had dulled to an ache they no longer admitted feeling—but they’d worked hard and done well, building as comfortable a life as one could on Tatooine.
Fry, Jason. The Last Jedi: Expanded Edition (Star Wars) (p. 8). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
Owen and Beru are (or were) alive, but everyone else important to Luke in the real world is either dead or he never met them. The Empire has won and there is a peace of sorts, but he always feels like he was destined for something else. What’s particularly notable about this scene is the passage from after he wakes up:
That was no ordinary dream, and you know it.
Luke raised the hood of his jacket with his mechanical hand, stroking his beard with the flesh-and-blood one. He wanted to argue with himself, but he knew better. The Force was at work here—it had cloaked itself in a dream, to slip through the defenses he’d thrown up against it.
But was the dream a promise? A warning? Or both?
This passage suggests the dream – which, in many ways, is a mirror of reality – is highly significant (as far as I can tell, it’s never brought up again). Also of note is it directly corresponds to Rey’s dreams and backs my long held theory that Rey herself has been subconsciously blocking the Force.
2. Just before Rey meets Snoke, there’s a giant exposition dump (pp 216-18):
Snoke knew he himself was an unlikely fulcrum, just about the furthest thing from what the tattered remnants of Palpatine’s Empire had imagined as a leader. The admirals and generals who’d survived the fury of the Empire’s implosion and the New Republic’s wrath had envisioned being led by someone else, anyone else: pitiless, devious Gallius Rax; dutiful, cautious Rae Sloane; the slippery political fanatic Ormes Apolin; or even an unhinged but ambitious military architect such as Brendol Hux.
All of those would-be leaders had been co-opted, sidelined, or destroyed, leaving only Armitage Hux, the mad son of a mad father. And that one was but a mouthpiece, a miscast tinkerer whose rantings could only persuade the sort of rabble who blindly worshipped rage and lunatic certainty.
Though galactic history would record it differently—Snoke would see to that—the evolution of the First Order had been more improvisation than master plan. That was another element visions tended to miss.
A few of things here. First, the initial First Order leadership did not know of or anticipate Snoke and he took full advantage. Second, Snoke appears to have been one of a number of people jockeying for power and took over from the inside. Finally, Ormes Apolin is someone we haven’t heard of before.
3. This is technically part of the last section, but it has direct baring on our Case for Rey Skywalker: