Book Review: Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens by Dean Alan Foster (Spoilers At the Bottom)

Story Rating:

3 stars for Star Wars: The Force Awakens Book Review

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Story Summary (Spoilers in the Review Below!)

The quick summary of this book:

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 1:9

The Long Summary of this Book:

Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed. With the support of the REPUBLIC, General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE. She is desperate to find her brother, Luke, and gain his help in restoring peace and justice to the galaxy. Leia has sent her most daring pilot on a secret mission to Jakku, where an old ally has discovered a clue to Luke’s whereabouts….

Foster, Alan Dean (2015-12-18). The Force Awakens (Star Wars) (Kindle Locations 72-73). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This is the opening crawl of Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelization. And if you think it sounds very familiar. It is. Poe Dameron an X-Wing Pilot must find Luke Skywalker, who is in hiding, to pursuade him to join the Resistance. After he's captured by Kylo Ren, he manages to escape with a Stormtrooper who wants to defect, FN-2187 calling himself "Finn".

Meanwhile, the droid BB-8 is on the desert planet Jakku, waiting for Poe, but is waylaiid by stormtroopers, he manages to escape and is discovered by female scavenger named Rey, and finding him changes her life forever.

The Plot is uninteresting, Uninspired and Has Too Many Fan Ficton Tropes!

Do I like the plot of the Force Awakens? It's a very mixed bag for me. The story itslef is too uninteresting, it retreads A New Hope so much, you might as well go read that book. It parelells Luke's journey too often, with some slight differences.

I have seen this plot before...on fanfiction.net. Let me explain, There are amateur writers that love to create Original Characters and insert them into the story the author is writing about. What happens for Star Wars is that they are inserted into the Episodes, be it Prequel or Original Trilogy.

And that, is unfortunately, the plot structure of The Force Awakens. And while the characters themselves do not "feel" like fan fiction characters, they are certainly the creator's favorite (in terms of J.J. Abram's and Lawrence Kasdan, the writers of the script the novel is based on).

In terms of the author of the book, Alan Dean Foster's writing is good, it's very descriptive and detailed. But the plot is sorely lacking, and I hate that the story, which I feel is the most important part of any medium, whether it's movies, books, videogames, anime or comics, is the most important part, is a plot taken straight off of the most generic Star Wars fan fiction that you can read for free.

The entire plot is a retread of A New Hope with callbacks to The Empire Strikes Back. And while both those stories are fantastic, The Force Awakens doesn't move forward. It's like walking on a treadmill while you're facing backwards: your legs are moving but you're not going anywhere.

The story starts of really well, but meanders during the second act, having the trademark "Star Wars Second Act Slog", but then pantomimes A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back for the third act, instead of using original ideas to move the story into something new.

If you want to avoid spoilers, I'll say this, the new characters are fantastic, save for Kylo Ren (he's the Sasuke Uchiha of Star Wars) and I love the interactions of Rey, Poe, Finn, and BB-8 (I smile at how cute he is) but the plot their in is so uninteresting that I feel they wasted a perfectly good plot.

And where's the urgency to find Luke? They keep saying it's so important, but then they throw in something that interrupts the search for Luke (I'll discuss it in the spoiler section)

The story could have taken Star Wars to new places, instead, the story walks on a treadmill, walking backward, but not going anywhere, gazing back at the Original Trilogy and constantly saying, "Do you remember this? And this? And this?"

It's not a bad story, the characters are very good, but it's held back by the plot that is unfortunately, something I've seen written by fans, and I didn't want The Force Awakens to be "The Fanfic Tropes Awaken".

There was so much wasted potential, but instead, to please the Prequel Trilogy haters, it played it so safe and overloaded the story with fanservice.

George may be ridiculed for what he said before he left, but he's right:

‘We want to make something for the fans,’” he told CBS. “So, I said, all I want to do is tell a story of what happened – it started here and went there. It’s all about generations, and issues of fathers and sons and grandfathers. It’s a family soap opera.”

The story is lost in the fanservice, and the story could have been so much better than what they gave us: A story straight off of fanficton.net.

Quick (Spioler Free) Thoughts:

What Didn't Work:
What Didn't Work:
Mostly likeable characters
Overall plot structure is straight tfrom fan fiction
Good writing, very detailed
No sense of urgency to find Luke
Great character interactions
Some characters go into Mary Sue and Villain/Gary Stu territory
 
No sense of how this has a galaxy wide effect
 
Patterned itself after A New Hope Too Much
 
Does not move the story forward, walks backwards on a treadmill and stares in that direction
Sasuke Uchiha, what are you doing in Star Wars?
Sasuke Uchiha, what are you doing in Star Wars? | Source

Kylo Ren (Ben Solo) Does Nothing to Deserve His Backstory, He's just Rage and Wangst!

Whle Anakin Skywalker is often criticized for his rage and angst, he still had a lot happen in his life that it was understandable for him to rage and angst. The novel for Revenge of the Sith fleshed out his character and motivations very well, and we had two other books to develop him.

Kylo has no character development, he's just a raging emo teen with no deep backstory to justify this, and if you're telling me that it's all in new canon, as of this writing, any of those stories, are as of this review, unwritten, and that is BAD writing,

Everyone was hoping for Vader 2.0., instead... we got Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto.

He throws more whining tanttrums than Anakin did, I can remember two, before falling to the Dark Side. He comes across as a pouting child that became a villain because "Grandaddy was so cool, i want to be just like him!" Essentially, he's grandaddy's fanboy.

And claling him Ben, just seemed like a meaningless throwback to the Original Trilogy. Might as well have called him Jacen (the name of Han and Leia's son from the old Expanded Universe).

And the act of patricide killing Han Solo, a beloved Star Wars character feels really cheap, it's just to say, "Oooh, look he's EEEEVILLL!" but he's not the villain who deserves to kill Han Solo.

Mary Sue, take your tropes back to Star Trek!
Mary Sue, take your tropes back to Star Trek! | Source

Rey, Your Mary Sue Powerups Are Not Explained!

I love Rey's character, she's inteligent, smart, and is very well written, except in one major glaring flaw.

She's able to do things without any real buildup to being able to do it. She just can, at least in The Phantom Menace Anakin could do some things using the Force, but fighting a Dark Side user wasn't one of them.

But Rey is 23 and Anakin was nine! Yes, and while both ar untrained, Anakin didn't just suddenly beable to pull out a lightsaber and start fighting Darth Maul.

Rey can apparently, just pick up a lightsaber and take out Kylo Ren, when we've not ever seen that she was able to us a lightsaber anywhere in the story (this fight is in the last act of the story) and Kylo Ren has had some training.

The Novel does have Kylo Ren say, "It's you," like he knows something about her she doesn't, but not hinting anything about her skills beforehand is cheap and starts going into Mary Sue territory.

I know they're trying to keep the "mystery" but that doesn't justify just suddenly being able to do things with the Force.

Poe, stop disappearing!!
Poe, stop disappearing!! | Source

Poe, We Need More Of You!

Poe Dameron is a great character, I really enjoy his interactions with Finn. Unfortunately, he disappears during the second act. I love him and i hope that he'll be utilized more in the next book. He's a terrific character, let's just make sure to give him more time to develop. I didn't like that he disappeared during the second act until Starkiller Base.

I'm so dead here!  YOLO!
I'm so dead here! YOLO! | Source

Finn, You're a Great Guy:

I love Finn's character arc. I like his character development, but he needs more of it, I do like that he does try to protect Rey. And I like that. But unlike everyone who is raving about the humor, I didn't find him to be particularly funny. I still love him as a character though.

Chewie, I'm dead.
Chewie, I'm dead. | Source

Han, You are great, But You Didn't Deserve to Go Out Like a Chump!

Han Solo is a fantastic character, but they derailed all his character development so he could return to the status quo. The way he goes out, it's just not the way he was supposed to go out. Sure it's remeniscent of Obi-Wan VS. Darth Vader in A New Hope, but it's just that a pale immitation. Did not like a lightsaber through his chest.

When Qui-Gon died, it was a surprise to me, when Obi-Wan does it, he dies to give Luke time to escape.

But this...doesn't feel like this is how he should die, trying to turn Kylo from the Dark Side, it mirrors both Padme and Luke, but it doesn't feel like how Han would die, he would have tried to do more, it feels like J.J. and Kasdan threw it in, so they could continue the tradition of the father figure dying, but they didn't know how to do it in a compelling way.

And Chewbacca makes me happy, that's all I need to say about him.

Sorry fans and shippers, we're not OTP anymore.  (Thanks Disney!)
Sorry fans and shippers, we're not OTP anymore. (Thanks Disney!) | Source

A General Not Princess, And Yet Your Relationships are Nerfed for Drama!

You heard me,they messed up her relationship with Han, and yes, according to the novel, they're still married, just not together, they're called husband and wife. Disney is following in Marvel's footsteps of breaking up perfectly decent relationships, because drama.

While it is nice to see her in story, I just don't like what they did to her and Han.
And not even an "I love you" as her last words to him! I find it to be disrespectful to the character development that was derailed for drama!

It's sad when her mother Padme's last words to Anakin are "I love you," and Leia's are, "if you see our son bring him back", while that's nice, an "I love you", would at least be a little extra fanserivce, since they're tossing in fanservice everywhere else.

I love you Luke, but you didn't do SQUAT in this story!
I love you Luke, but you didn't do SQUAT in this story! | Source

Luke Skywalker, The Jedi Who Didn't Do Anything (In This Story):

Luke, I love you, and I know that you lost the Jedi Order, but really, do you have to go in hiding? Is that entirely necessary besides the fact that the plot needs you to be the MacGuffin? I feel that he could have been in the story in some other capacity besides the MacGuffin.

Even old Obi-Wan, whose time in the original stories is much less than in the Prequel Trilogy, has more time in the story than Luke does!

The Death Star 3.0, and a Pokeball!
The Death Star 3.0, and a Pokeball! | Source

Starkiller Base: Death Star 3.0! Do Not Want!

Another circular superwweapon, ugh! Why did they decide to do this? The epic search for Luke Skywalker is sidetracked by another Death Star. And it nukes muliple planets, and the "urgency" feels forced, this plotine is just an excuse to see familiar imagery. It's bad when a Bible verse is the perfect summary for this book.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 1:9

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1 comment

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 11 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I haven't yet read the book. Am dying to find the time to do it.

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