Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has arrived in theaters and is already shattering box office records. There have been an impressive number of tie-in books and comics released, and Star Wars mania looks like it is going to remain in full swing well into 2016.
Before the Awakening is a new canon young adult novel meant as a direct tie-in to the new film. Basically, it serves as a prequel to the movie, with three separate side stories for each of the main new characters – Finn, Rey, and Poe.
Before he had a change of heart in The Force Awakens and became a part of the Resistance, the man later known as Finn was raised to be a Stormtrooper in the villainous First Order. This Trooper to be excelled at every training mission he was ever given, but was chastised by Captain Phasma for his selfless and caring nature. When he and his fellow cadets are assigned to active duty, he finds himself further questioning the activities and methods employed by the Imperial offshoot.
Abandoned and forced to fend for herself on the planet Jakku, Rey was forced to take up scavenging as a means of survival, but is barely able to bring in enough quality items to get the food that she needs to live. Things take a turn for the better when the young and tough scavenger comes across an abandoned ship in the desert, which she allies with two of her peers to renovate and sell, hopefully getting enough food to live on for the rest of her days in this harsh, desolate climate. But can she truly trust her peers, and are there ulterior motives at play?
The son of Kes Dameron and Shara Bey of the Rebellion, Poe Dameron grew up in relative peace on Yavin IV. But when the First Order rises to become a threat and the New Republic refuses to take the necessary stance against their heinous crimes, Dameron finds himself in a conflict – stay with his loyalties to the Republic, or venture out to join the Resistance, who is actively fighting and campaigning against the First Order to the best of their ability. His decision puts him on a mission that will require skill and strength alike.
This is an interesting book because, unlike the other tie-in media with The Force Awakens, this one is much more direct, detailing the lives of these three new characters and what they were up to before they crossed paths for the first time in the new film.
These stories are longer than “short stories” but shorter than being full-length novels of their own; in essence they are just the right length and accomplish exactly what they set out to. After having seen the new film, this novel gave me a greater appreciation of the characters and where they come from.
I do not want to go into too much detail with these stories; they should be a surprise for the reader, but it should suffice to say that the lead in to the new movie is definitely a good thing, and will keep fans all the more interested. If you have read the Shattered Empire comic, the Poe story has some good tie-ins and consistency with it, which was a nice touch. Likewise, the other stories flesh out their respective characters well enough.
No Star Wars fan that has seen the new movie will want to pass Before the Awakening by; it gives some great background on the newest heroes of a galaxy far far away. Strongly recommended for all fans.