Star Wars: Before the Awakening is the first installment in the new expanded universe of the Star Wars franchise to legitimately expand on the main characters of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Author, and Marvel Comics alum, Greg Rucka offers small vignettes into the lives of the three main characters introduced in the newest Star Wars film, splitting it into thirds, with each one dedicated to the story of each character. Through Rucka’s work fans are finally given the backstory they so desperately craved after watching The Force Awakens, glimpsing Finn’s life when he was known as FN-2187, the trials and tribulations Rey faced as a lonely scavenger on the surface of Jakku, and the decisions that led to Poe Dameron becoming a part of the Resistance’s fight against the First Order.
Throughout each of the stories, Rucka proved himself a master at building worlds, characters, and moods through his choice of writing style for each segment. Each story averages about 70 pages, told through the eyes of the characters involved; The cold and militaristic life of a Stormtrooper is made apparent through the use of detailed and technical terminology, but humanized through Finn’s compassion and the jargon used by the bucketheads to bond in their circumstances. Poe’s tale of saving a freighter ship that was hijacked by First Order forces offers the fast-paced space battle action synonymous with the Star Wars franchise. Poe’s final dog fight felt like being dropped directly into the action with poetic description sacrificed for short and functional sentences, mirroring the frantic nature of the battle. Meanwhile, Rey’s emotional story involves her discovering a nearly in-tact ship in the sands of Jakku and is the most internalized of the three. (A narrative strength, given that Rey only has herself to rely on.)
Now, even with all the book has to offer about these characters there are still major questions that don’t get answered in Before the Awakening. The book is aimed at younger readers, and acts as more of a supplemental addition to the new film instead of a full-fledge novel in the new expanded Star Wars universe. There are no hints to Rey’s past or any farther details about the First Order’s creation, but some smaller questions about the characters and the state of the universe are answered. Poe’s story gives a glimpse at the rocky relationship between the New Republic and Leia’s Resistance, Finn’s story actually puts characters behind the Stormtroopers’ helmets, and Rey’s story explains her amazing piloting skills and mechanical knowledge despite being struck on Jakku.
Star Wars: Before the Awakening may not be enough to feed the need for more Finn, Rey, and Poe until Episode VIII releases in 2017, but is certainly a great way for fans of the new film to continue the high that The Force Awakens has given so many movie goers. Greg Rucka proves that anything Star Wars that is sent his way, whether by Disney or Marvel, is in capable hands and will be highly entertaining to read.
Star Wars: Before the Awakening is available now in bookstores and online. Have you read it? Let us know in the comments below.
This review was completed using a copy of the novel provided to Nerdist by Disney Publishing.
Images: Disney Publishing