I’m not fooling anyone when I browse through the Star Wars books in the young readers section of Barnes & Noble. At least it’s not as creepy as when I am perusing the young adult novels (or maybe it’s worse). Maybe I should stick to Amazon.
I refer to Before the Awakening as a “prelude” and not a “prequel,” since the latter has negative connotations to Star Wars fans. The book is divided into three parts: Finn, Rey, and Poe. As with Smuggler’s Run, author Greg Rucka proves that he gets what makes for a great Star Wars story. These stories feel true to the characters. While they aren’t necessary to one’s enjoyment of The Force Awakens, the stories do add a bit of backstory, which helps to explain some of their actions and motivations.
Before the Awakening starts with Finn; or should I say FN-2187? I won’t divulge spoilers, but I will say that we get to see Finn interact with his fellow Stormtroopers, and Captain Phasma. Let’s just say that his decision to leave the First Order wasn’t a spur of the moment call. And, in a way, it explains why FN-2187 had an almost immediate bond with Poe Dameron.
I don’t know how to describe Rey’s story without spoiling it. It’s beautifully written, and gives a bit of insight into her day to day life, and her interactions with others. Let’s just say that she is a far better person than I am.
The Poe story is the perfect bookend to Finn’s, and counterpoint to Rey’s. It’s not a spoiler to say that Poe’s mother was a pilot for the Rebellion, and his father was part of the ground forces on the forest moon of Endor. Poe’s father once said that he hoped that everything the Rebellion fought for wasn’t in vain. If The Force Awakens is any indication–it may have been.
This is the section of the book where we get some insight into the political goings on in the New Republic. I hope more novels and comics explore this subject. I can understand why some may be wary of Star Wars politics, but if it is done well, it can be interesting.
If you have read Smuggler’s Run, you are familiar with Lieutenant Ematt. Well, now he is a major. It’s a bit odd that he hasn’t risen that much higher in rank over the past four decades, when Han and Lando were made generals straight off the bat. Ematt isn’t name-checked in The Force Awakens movie, but according to the novelization, he’s the guy who says, “It’s another Death Star!” You see? It’s all connected.
Poe Dameron is getting his own comic, and I am looking forward to reading about his adventures. That is, if they are as exciting as the one in Before the Awakening. As for Finn and Rey, this book gave me pretty much all I need to know. Well, maybe not everything. You have to save some stuff for the films.