But first, a diversion:
There are a number of internet posts comparing and contrasting The Force Awakens with Rogue One. The general consensus is that each film has its strengths and weaknesses, and neither is flawless.
When we meet Rey in The Force Awakens, she is scavenging a crashed Star Destroyer. She loads parts and pieces onto her speeder, then takes them to Niima Outpost, where they are scrubbed and traded for food portions. During this time, hardly a word is spoken.
Rogue One begins with Jyn Erso as a child. Her mother is murdered, and her father taken away by Director Krennic. Jyn hides until Saw Gerrera comes for her.
The story flashes forward to when Jyn is in her twenties. She is a prisoner of the Empire when Cassian Andor and K-2SO rescue her. She is taken to a Rebel base where her rap sheet is read aloud. Can you spot the difference?
In The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams played the “show don’t tell” card, which is the technique film experts prefer. Gareth Edwards used the opposite approach for Rogue One, and Cinephile Twitter exploded. Or maybe it imploded. Either way, it wasn’t pretty.
I am a proponent of allowing the pictures tell the story, because film is a visual medium. But it’s not the only way; contrary to popular opinion. Some would argue for the importance of the screenwriter and dialogue in cinema. What would all those Howard Hawks or Thin Man movies be without the witty repartee? Not to mention that vaguely creepy guy at work who has a movie quote for every occasion.
Think about all the crime films you have watched over the years. How many contain scenes where a cop or someone else recites someone’s criminal record? Most of them, right? Now tell me, did we need to see all that stuff in Rogue One? Would it have been a better movie? It would have been a longer one; that much is for sure. The same goes for Bruce Wayne making his way back to Gotham City in The Dark Knight Rises. Plus, if all that stuff had been in Rogue One, we wouldn’t need Rebel Rising, which means Beth Revis wouldn’t have gotten a Lucasfilm paycheck, and I’m all for people getting paid.
I say all that to say this: Rebel Rising covers the years of Jyn Erso’s life not covered in Rogue One. Do we really need to know these things? Not really. Not any more than we need to know what happened in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, but they keep publishing the books, and I keep reading them.