WARNING: THIS DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR BOTH EPISODES 7 AND 8 OF THE STAR WARS FILMS. AS WELL AS THE NOVELIZATION ITSELF.
May 13, 2018
“Ben Solo had sought to abandon everything he had been, even casting aside his name. But Luke sensed that Kylo Ren was just a shell around the same broken boy he had tried so hard to reach.” ― Jason Fry, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Some of you will disagree and that’s fine.
Look, I know a lot of people didn’t like Episode VIII, but I did and I loved the novelization even more! For me, The Last Jedi is a major turning point and not just for the characters, but for the overall Skywalker Saga. From start to finish, Fry and Rian Johnson captured a story that I did not expect. After The Force Awakens, I wasn’t sure where the story would go and I was pleasantly surprised.
The novelization of the film added so much more depth and Fry was able to capture the emotions of the characters and all that came with them all while still embracing the Star Wars universe. The beginning of the novel is a dream that is not included in the film. It is Luke Skywalker’s dream as he imagines what his life would have been like if he had never left Tatooine on the Falcon all those years ago. This scene along with many others helped the story along perfectly. I liked Luke’s story in the film, but I felt as if it was missing a lot and Jason Fry filled in the gaps beautifully.
Something that I found incredibly endearing about the novelization is that Fry wrote many parts from the point-of-view of BB-8. Some of my favourite characters in the SW universe are droids, BB-8 and K-2SO among them. For example, after Rose and Finn are arrested in Canto Bight, there is a whole section told by BB-8 of how he went to rescue them and how he met DJ. BB-8 comes across as curious and yet has this humor that makes the book that much more fun to read.
Just like the film, the novel jumps between the different storylines. From Rey on Ach-To with Luke, to the First Order destroyers, and the Rebels trying to flee the enemy. Most characters get moments of inner dialogue in one way or another and I loved Poe’s so much. In the novel you get a better appreciation for his character and how he is devoted to the cause and Leia. As a reader we get to see just how reckless Poe is willing to be in order to protect the Resistance. As for his buddy Finn, there is a lot more there too, especially when it comes to Rey.
When Episode VIII picks up, it’s right after VII so Finn has no idea where Rey has gone off to and she becomes sort of a catalyst in his decision making. At least for most of the book. Rey is also present once Rose comes into the picture. Fry depicts Rose as a jealous character of sorts and I completely get it. Finn is very single minded at the start of VIII. He just wants to get to Rey and doesn’t really care about the cause at all, that is until Rose kicks him into gear.
Personally, I don’t like Rose Tico. I didn’t find her character interesting at all. The whole storyline of her and Finn going to Canto Bight and sneaking onto the Supremacy seemed a bit drawn out and I only liked their scenes once they boarded the First Order ship, everything else was just a bit unnecessary to me. However, I am glad she got Finn to get his head on straight and finally face the truth that he was meant to be in the Resistance.
Also, his fight with Phasma is one of my favourites.
Now let’s talk about Rey and Luke for a moment. I still have a lot of questions about Luke’s mindset these past years in isolation. Well, I have many questions about Episode VIII in general, but Luke’s time on Ach-To makes me even more curious. When Rey meets him, she is very…formal? I suppose. Just like when she met Han, she sees him as the legendary Jedi Master, but overtime she starts to see him as just Luke. Then when Rey learns about the night Ben Solo turned, she starts to see him as more than just a war hero and sees the darker nature of his past. What I gathered is that Rey couldn’t quite understand why the galaxy is so black and white. She felt drawn to the darkside and thought she would find answers through it. Part of her knew it was dangerous, but she couldn’t resist her curiosity.
Which brings me to Kylo Ren.
I absolutely LOVE this character. Kylo Ren is the definition of complicated and complex. There is this compelling nature about him and I have to agree that is due to Adam Driver’s incredible performance. And then when reading the book, especially during the Force Bond moments, it’s even more chilling. What I like most about Kylo is that he is curious about so much. Rey was an enigma when he first met her and then when the Force connected them he was so enraptured that first time.
Do I think Kylo Ren is completely evil? No. However, I don’t think he is capable of being completely good either. I believe that he will prove to be the right balance of both.
The first moment that I really saw how unstable and interesting his character was when he destroys his helmet in the elevator. For pretty much all of Episode VII, he is trying so hard to live up to Darth Vader and when Snoke knocks him down a few pegs, you really see that long building anger and frustration come through. Anger definitely fuels him, but so does longing as you see when he wants Rey to join him at the end of the film. For so long he has been alone. Whether it was when Snoke was tormenting him as a child or when he was sent to Luke at a young age, he always wanted some type of connection. Then when it was revealed that Snoke bridged their minds together, it was another crack in the already broken soul of Kylo Ren.
Did I believe Snoke when he said he bound them together? No. I didn’t, but I expect that will be explained in IX.
As for Kylo and Rey as a pair, well, I ship it.
I mean how can you not? But there is something about how they interact, even from VII that draws you in. From fighting each other to fighting together, it is all one big epic connection that I absolutely love. They challenge each other in more ways that one and even among all the chaos of war, there are moments of levity. In the book, Fry’s interpretation of the hut scene is a bit different from the film. In the book, they sit side by side rather than across from each other. Also, Rey ends up grasping his hand rather than just fingers touching. The physical connection surprised both of them and it’s the shock that results in them not noticing Luke before he blows the place to pieces. But let’s be real, the movie scene with the subtle touch is way better and intimate no matter how interesting the novel one is.
At the end of the book, once the Supremacy is damaged and Kylo wakes up on the floor, there is a moment when he realizes that Rey spared him. The book explains that Kylo believed she left him alive “…almost as if she cared for him.”
There it is, ladies and gents.
Even if Rey and Kylo never become romantically involved, there is a mutual bond between them that won’t go away so easily. They care for each other in one way or another and it’s indisputable.
And finally, Luke’s death.
The battle of Crait was a bit underwhelming in my opinion. Visually it was stunning on screen as well in the written word, but it could have been better. I did not like the way Luke’s character ended. I think it was important for him to confront Kylo and to give the Resistance time to escape, but I didn’t like that he found peace so soon after. I would have liked Luke to stick around for one more episode.
In this scene you can see that it is his former master that drives Kylo over the edge. Even when his father’s ship comes into play, he wants it shot down. Whether he knew Rey was on it or not, all he felt was the anger rising again. I did appreciate him smacking around Hux, however. That guy needs to go.
Then again, as much as I wished Luke hadn’t of died, it adds that extra bit of drama to the story and makes you wonder how the next episode will pan out. I’m pretty sure Leia will die which means Kylo or rather Ben will be the last of the Skywalker bloodline and I really hope they don’t end it.
There are too many moments that point to his redemption for it not to happen. There is a moment in the book that Rey realizes she made the mistake of assuming Kylo’s choice to turn to the light would be easy and that she could not turn him, but he has to decide for himself and I agree. If he were to turn in IX, it needs to be of his own volition.
We can only hope!
Overall, I give The Last Jedi 5/5 stars and hope that if you enjoyed the film, you will love the book as well! I cannot wait till Episode IX comes out and we can only start to imagine what J.J. has up his sleeve! Let me know what you thought of VIII and if you have read the novelization!