The road to Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been paved with merchandise of all kinds, product tie-ins, comics, and books. A trio of tales focusing on Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo was released when the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing program launched on Force Friday. The young reader books by different authors feature art by Phil Noto and dip into the past as well as The Force Awakens time period (the prologues and epilogues of each book are set after Return of the Jedi, the primary stories are flashbacks). They don’t spoil anything about the film (as far as I know), but they do mention new characters and allude to changes in the galaxy. For example, one of the books refers to Leia as General Organa and it was the first time we heard about her new title.
Though the books are filed in the young reader category, I think of them as being for all ages. They’re quick reads, sure, but they still tell stories that shape the characters we know so well. My spoiler-free thoughts:
Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure by Greg Rucka
Smuggler’s Run is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The tone of the book suits Han–he and Chewbacca end up in a sticky situation and hijinks ensue. If you’ve ever read the Han Solo adventures by Brian Daley (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend doing so), you’ll find this book is in the same spirit. Rucka captures Han’s voice, and it’s fun to spend so much time with the smuggler during a time when he’s still not completely sold on the Rebellion. He’s about money. Rucka also introduces a badass Imperial Security Bureau in Commander Alecia Beck.
This is maybe the lightest book of the trilogy, but it’s entertaining. My favorite part is seeing more of Han’s old lifestyle and the sorts of connections he still has because of it. His resourcefulness is on full display, and the story is chock-full of little things that speak volumes about Han and Chewie’s friendship.
Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry
Boy, the books and comics have really elevated Nien Nunb’s role in the Star Wars universe. I’m not complaining; it adds a lot to his appearance in Return of the Jedi. He has a prominent role alongside Leia in Moving Target. This title takes place between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Leia becomes part of a mission meant to fool the Empire, but there’s a catch: They’re hunting her. She’s one of the most wanted Rebels.
Castellucci and Fry expand upon the Leia we know from the original trilogy. We see more of her leadership skills, more of her cunning, and more of her vulnerability. This is a woman who lost her entire planet and culture, she’s presumably lost friends in the fight against the Empire—she has the world on her shoulders. The story gives us a more intimate picture of the Alderaanian princess and some insight into the workings of the Rebellion.
The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry
Luke Skywalker’s story in The Weapon of a Jedi is my top pick of this trio of young reader books. It’s interesting since Luke would be at the bottom of my list if I ranked these three characters based on who I like most. The story focuses on Luke’s exploration of the Force. Set after the events of A New Hope, Luke is still testing his abilities and trying to understand them. The Force guides him to a planet called Devaron, and the events there have direct influence upon the Luke we see on Hoth.
Fry goes deep, pushing Luke’s development. Luke stumbles repeatedly, but he learns too and knowing what Luke went through on Devaron makes me reevaluate him and how he is with Yoda on Dagobah. I imagine it’s difficult to fit puzzle pieces into an established story and timeline without bending the corners, but Fry really lines it up.
Did you read any of these titles? Head to the comments and tell me what you thought about them and whether you agree that Phil Noto should illustrate all the things.
Images: Disney Lucasfilm Press