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Review - Star Wars: The Force Awakens Novelization, plus a little meta. - CaffieneKittySpace
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Review - Star Wars: The Force Awakens Novelization, plus a little meta.
I've just finished reading the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster and wanted to post a little review, and also a bit of meta about a character arc I think is likely in future films.

In some ways this book suffers from the studio's choice to have the book come out on the same day as the movie hit theatres. It's quite obvious that the source material provided to Foster for writing the novel was an earlier version of the script. There are many instances where lines and scenes vastly change the tone and interpretation of the characters from what was seen on screen.

[Example of a scene difference from the novel]
For instance, when Unkar Plutt offers Rey 60 portions for BB8, not only does she negotiate for 100 portions and initially accept the offer, she switches off BB8's consciousness so he'll shut up about it. She does still obviously not take that deal in the end, but for me, seeing that would have made her a very much harder character, and one more challenging to find sympathetic.

Several scenes like this (though not this one specifically) were filmed and are included as deleted scenes in DVD/BluRay release bonus material.throughout the book where there is more in the book than seen in theatres, several of which

In a way, though, this makes the novelization an interesting film development time capsule. There are scenes where it's clear that Poe wasn't originally intended to survive the Jakku landing (even though he does in the book as well), there are scenes missing from the novel that appear in the movie which provide detail for character development and relationship dynamic in small ways that add up to a bigger whole. There are also scenes in the novel where the actor's interpretation of the scene and character changes the internal tone of the scene, and which the director chose to emphasize differently than appears in the novel.

The novel also has an odd perspective, a sort of semi-omniscient one, where the internal thoughts of every character involved can be seen in many scenes, and sometimes even in the same paragraph, yet at other times there is no hint at the internal feeling of the character during scenes where their internal view could be key. It's not a POV I care for, I prefer to be in one person's head at a time and get a more in-depth emotional picture from each character, but that's just my preference. Unfortunately my preference made me feel the book was a bit shallow and scattered.

There is also considerably more technical explainer dialog, partly due to the lack of visual cues to what's happening, but also again, partly because of the 'early script' feeling of the novel. If it had existed in the script, most of the dialog would have clunked on-screen and been cut to keep the pacing of the film up.

In the explainer dialog there is a notable difference from the film that feeds into a meta I have had about the movie and an ongoing character arc in the series since I first saw it in the theatre.

[Details and rough blithering Meta under cut]
In the novel the power source for the Starkiller Base is Dark Energy, which still involves it drawing energy off a sun in some way, and the loss of light during the bridge scene is explained as a stream of dark energy passing over in the novel, rather than the sun being fully consumed. I can see why they would have diverted from that to just make the weapon eat a star and spit it out at targets, because even in the book with an explanation it all seemed really clunky and awkward. Since there's no hint of it in the deleted scenes, this was changed quite early on, and is a very sensible change as it's very easy to grasp how powerful the weapon is at any age when it's destroying a star for its power.

With the final cut of the movie though, the change results in an interestingly meta pun, which I think was on some level intentional, but we'll see.

Starkiller literally eats the light and uses that power to destroy, which is a bit of a metaphor in itself for what has happened to Ben Solo, AKA Kylo Ren. It does this by eating suns. The First Order also eats sons. Kylo Ren, son of Han and Leia being a prominent one, but all the kids taken as children and forced to become Stormtroopers. In the film, once the controls containing the eaten sun were disrupted by the Resistance, the sun it had eaten destroyed it from within.

If that's not a metaphor for a Kylo Ren redemption arc resulting in the destruction of the First Order, I will be surprised. Could be Hux I suppose, with his family history outside the film, or Finn, (who is also someone's son) who would have to return and be eaten by the First Order again to be in place (and perhaps lead a Stormtrooper rebellion?). Could be a combination, but really Kylo has the setup for it, and has the conflict built within his character, the draw to the light being suppressed by Snoke's orders and Kylo's own misguided will. (Did no one tell him his grandfather killed Palpatine? Or did Snoke tell him they lied? And who got Vader's melted helmet off the pyre on Endor and gave it to him, and when?)

I think changes made to a few scenes between the source for the novelization and the final cut of the film support this arc, including the final bridge scene between Han and Kylo Ren, where that touch to Kylo's face didn't happen in the novel / early script, but happened due to actor input and was kept on screen, leading to a more definite take on the implications of that scene for Kylo's internal conflict. Han's gesture that despite everything, he still loves and forgives his son, even as he's being killed by him, creates a bigger load of doubt in Kylo that following Snoke is such a great idea, since killing Han didn't erase the light in him, it made his doubt of the dark worse.

Regardless, if there is a redemption arc, I don't think it's going to be one the relevant character survives, at least not for long. Ironically if it does go that way, Kylo really would be following in his Grandfather's footsteps, wouldn't he?

(I also have a headcanon that I wouldn't call meta exactly that any time Kylo Ren gets a bit too mopey about the pull to the Light Side, Snoke has someone go out and screw something up or report a setback to Kylo (while he's standing near one of the I am sure many consoles that look fully operational and important but are really just dummies for Kylo to destroy without disrupting operations) so he will rage out and go slicing crap up with his lightsaber (which, cracked khyber crystals aside, I kind of think he wants to look more out of control and flamey than typical lightsabers to prove to himself that he really is completely evil, but it's not really helping him convince himself) because giving in to rage and anger strengthens the Dark Side, so Kylo freaking out and wrecking up a console is actually productive in keeping him away from the Light (Also since I do bookkeeping, much to my regret, I figure the destroyed consoles are being put against the Dark Side Training/Snoke budget.) but that's just my headcanon)

ANYWAY. That's my scrambled blithering take on the novelization and some meta for The Force Awakens. Only about 6 months after the fact. :-P

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4 comments or Leave a comment
borgmama1of5 From: borgmama1of5 Date: May 30th, 2016 03:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I figure the destroyed consoles are being put against the Dark Side Training/Snoke budget

I miss your wonderful observations in the SPN world...
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: May 30th, 2016 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll get back to them or a shorter version of them at some point. I'm still stuck back in early season 9 and one of these days, there will be more.
borgmama1of5 From: borgmama1of5 Date: May 30th, 2016 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
caffienekitty From: caffienekitty Date: May 30th, 2016 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Not anytime soon though. Sorry.
4 comments or Leave a comment