‘The Last Jedi’ novelisation: spoilers below!
Jason Fry’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi novelisation was always going to be a tough job. It had to follow Rian Johnson’s movie which fractured the loyal Star Wars fan base into lovers, haters and those like me. Somewhere right in the middle. The Last Jedi novelisation is a great way to relive the film’s best moments. Conversely, it helps to fill some of the holes left by the editing and time constraints of the film. Fry’s expanded edition draws on alternative versions of the script and deleted material to give us some of the answers we needed, and pose a whole lot more. Here are a few of my favorite expanded moments from the novelisation.
‘Luke Skywalker stood in the cooling sands of Tatooine, his wife by his side’.
The opening line of the prologue will likely confound any book store browser into thinking they had missed something pretty integral, or had picked up an old ‘legends’ novel rather than anything canon. I couldn’t quite believe what I was reading. How is this possible? It gave a pretty compelling reason to continue. It’s the story we always wanted for Luke. For Luke to find peace, happiness, marriage and have force-powered offspring to carry the Jedi into a new generation… But on Tatooine? Something wasn’t quite right.
The scene expands to reveal a time long last past the events of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. A reality in which Luke had never been attacked by Tuskens on his hunt for the escaped astromech R2-D2. A reality where Luke never finds Obi Wan Kenobi, never loses his aunt and uncle to the cruelty of the Empire and settles into his farming life on his little Outer Rim home. Never being touched by the war and never knowing his true purpose.
It’s an interesting premise, and when Luke is woken from his slumber by the insect humming of his Ach-to refuge he knows this is less of a dream and more of a message. The force finding a way through the defences he had put up to close himself off, reminding him that his path gave him a greater purpose, one that is not yet fulfilled. Luke realises this isn’t the end of his story. I can see why Johnson couldn’t open a movie this way; too confusing, too heart-breaking. But in words it’s beautiful and begins to reveal Luke’s complex feelings of guilt, loss and regret, that his comedy ‘lightsaber toss’ in his first moment of the film couldn’t hope to live up to.
‘Ben, her son. Who’d been stolen from her and Han, stolen by Snoke’s wiles and Luke’s mistakes and his own furies.’
The novelisation delves much more closely into Leia’s relationship with her son Ben and inner turmoil than the film allows for. If a picture tells a thousand words, these are the words that reveal the truth behind the sadness in her eyes and her unending and resolute determination for hope.
It’s such a great moment in the film. Kylo Ren bearing down on the Resistance cruiser in his TIE Silencer, targeting the main bridge then feeling the presence of General Organa, his mother. The conflict stirs deep in his feelings towards Leia and in the novel he allows himself a moment to ‘recall his parents’ worried conversations behind closed doors and how they saw him as ‘some kind of monster’. Leia reminisces her son in the womb, ‘an ever-expanding radiance in the force’. She remembers Ben as a toddler ‘forever following Han, holding the dice from the Falcon and dreaming of one day being a pilot like his father’.
A moment in the film is expanded into a lifetime of memory for Leia and Kylo Ren. Memories which reveal a boy who felt abandoned and parents who were too scared of what their son could become. Ren’s murder of Han Solo harbors more meaning here as it is the root of his desperation to cut out the lightness in himself. It resonates as well at the end of the film, when Ren picks up the force-projected dice from the floor of the decimated rebel base in Crait only for them to disappear from his grasp. Ultimately, he couldn’t kill his mother. He senses ‘she wasn’t afraid’ and he admires her, and therein may be Ben Solo’s redemption.
‘At the sight of him she’d felt relief surge through her.’
Just go onto Twitter and hashtag #Reylo and witness legions of ‘shippers’ pawing over every detail Rey and Kylo’s relationship as it evolves through their mind-bridge in The Last Jedi. Just as Snoke tells us, as darkness rises so will its equal in the light to meet it. Ren shows there is lightness within him in his emotions towards Rey. His eyes ‘softening’, jolting at their force touch. Whilst Rey reveals her understanding of his darkness and only together do they feel truly ‘not alone’.
Remember that Star Wars needs these stories too. It is built on relationships. Trust and betrayal and passion and agony and love and loss… Padme and Anakin, Han and Leia, Anakin and Obi-Wan. Heck what about Poe and Finn? Rey and Kylo makes some kind of sense and the novelisation goes a long way to feed their growing attachment, be it romantic or otherwise.
So is it worth a read?
If you didn’t enjoy the film, I can’t say that you’ll enjoy this novelisation. However if, like me, you were undecided about the film or loved it, the novelisation is great way to relive the story. You will understand the characters with a depth that the film doesn’t quite achieve.
Buy the novelisation here:
Have you read it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!