I’m BACK from the Honeymoon! And I’m planning a contest soon, so keep checking up on me!
Does anybody seriously still not know what Star Wars is about? Anyway, it’s classic rebels v. empire in space. Plucky young hero, evil force of nature, etc. George Lucas and Alan Dean Foster wrote it.
WHY I PICKED IT UP:
I initially read this book when I was like 12 because I was a Star Wars nut, but I picked it up again recently after reading the first issue of a new comic: THE Star Wars—It’s basically a comic book retelling of George Lucas’s first version of the script. A side note—the comic is very good; I may review it here if there’s any interest.
WHERE / WHY I STOPPED:
I read to the end of the sample this time (of course, I finished the book in a few days when I was 12). It starts off strong exactly as the film does—an in medias res introduction which generates interest and shows us likeable characters, C3PO and R2-D2, in peril as their ship comes under imperial attack. From there we get little bits of exposition as to why all these people are fighting, meet Darth Vader, and skip over to Luke Skywalker’s POV, watching the ships fight from the ground.
A good opening, though I’ll admit I skipped the prologue because it was way too dry.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER, IF ANYTHING:
The book hits all the right notes for a hook. At the same time, Lucas has a penchant for overwriting (I’ve noticed this is kind of a thing in sci-fi books; perhaps more research should be done). The metaphors come fast and the language can be just a tad more complex than is needed. Also, as can be clearly seen with the first scene, Lucas is trying to pull off some sophisticated visual imagery which doesn’t always easily translate to the printed page.
My only other qualm is that, even though I know what all these things and people look like because I’ve seen the movies, I have trouble visualizing them simply from the descriptions given. For instance, in R2’s first appearance he’s described as a “stubby, tripodal robot.” On the next page, his description is lengthened to include “cylindrical body,” and “thick, clawed legs.”
This does require some reframing: It’s common knowledge that many of the effects, props, and costumes of the original Star Wars were improvised, AND this book was likely written before the filming of the movie, so R2’s design was probably not finalized. At the same time, It would have been ok to just give us a few more words to tell us how he looks because all I get from the whole first chapter is this:
Overall, I guess it’s a taste thing—some readers like less description so they can imagine things themselves.
The novel hits enough high notes that I can look past its little flaws. It’s neat to see the little ‘deleted scenes’ which don’t make it to the movie. Plus, the original Star Wars does something with which every writer should be familiar: it follows the “Hero’s Journey” or monomyth—a very important classical literary form about which you can learn more here.
But of course, you don’t have to take my word for it! Leave a comment and tell me what you thought of Star Wars: A New Hope the novel!