Luke and Leia join us on The Journey to the Force Awakens

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We got another pair of JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS books to review today, with one featuring Luke Skywalker and the other with Princess Leia. As I mentioned in my review of AFTERMATH, the bulk of these books are set during the Original Trilogy, not in the JOURNEY TO STAR WARS timeframe.


Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry

Hardcover - $12.99
Kindle - $6.46
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press
192 Pages

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

This book starts with an X-Wing pilot asking C-3PO to tell her a story about Luke Skywalker that no one has heard before. C-3PO decides to tell her about the first time Luke used a lightsaber in battle, not long after the Battle of Yavin. Luke was on a mission for Red Squadron to fetch Imperial communication logs intercepted by several rebel cells. Along the way, he gets a strong impression through the force that he needs to visit the planet Devaron. On Devaron, he finds a Jedi Temple, and is able to use the training devices there to help his skills with the Force advance. He is betrayed by his guide, a creepo named Sarco, and forced to fight his way past both Sarco and a small troop of Stormtroopers using his newly acquired skills.

I was real disappointed this book didn’t give us any context for what happened to Luke after RETURN OF THE JEDI. We’re not even sure who this X-Wing pilot is or what she’s doing. All we know for sure is that for some reason, C-3PO has had one of his golden arms replaced with a red one.

That said, I still enjoyed what this book had to offer. It always seemed strange that Luke seemed to have some better understanding of the force even before he met Yoda in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The current comic series has suggested that he returned to Tatooine and was using Obi-Wan’s journals. And this book fills in some of the other gaps.

It is also a very good story. Sarco had a real unique design to him, and he felt like the perfect adversary to Luke in this situation. I also thought they did a great job fleshing out some of the citizens of Devaron. I love when secondary characters seem to be fully developed, and Jason Fry succeeded admirably there. I also loved the dog fight sequence that started the book. It was probably a little unnecessary, but what’s a STAR WARS story without an awesome starship battle.

Honestly, I do get why Disney advertised this book as part of JOURNEY TO THE FORCE AWAKENS, but it still felt like a bit of bait and switch. I think I would have enjoyed this book if it felt like we got a little more understanding on the where and when this story is being told.

Score: 3.5/5


Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry

Hardcover - $12.99
Kindle - $5.90
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press
240 Pages

Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Like THE WEAPON OF A JEDI, the only part of this book set after RETURN OF THE JEDI is the framing sequence. BUT, you get a lot more hints about what is going on. Leia Organa is operating as the leader of the Resistance, who is working to control a group called the First Order, which is made up of elements of the former Empire. Leia also talks about a pilot named Poe (who we saw in the trailers) and her concerns about what the war with the First Order is doing to him. From the way she talks about him, I can't help but think that he is her son or nephew.

A droid named PZ-4CO is trying to get General Organa to put down her memoirs. Leia decides to tell PZ about some of the events leading up to the Battle of Endor. The Alliance knew they would draw attention if they started gathering their fleet for an attack on the second Death Star. Leia was sent on a decoy mission to convince the Empire to strike elsewhere. But in order to do that, she had to put herself and potential allies in danger. The Alliance is willing to pay that price if it will allow them to defeat the Empire. Leia reluctantly goes along with this plan. In the end, she tries to sacrifice herself to save the others who might be caught in the trap. But, encouraged by her bravery, the other shops return to rescue her. She is even able to steal an Imperial shuttle in the process.

Like AFTERMATH, the book dealt heavily with what war is really all about. Seeing heroic figures willing to sacrifice lives for the greater good is pretty dark and deep for a young adult book. I give the writers a lot of credit for having the courage to do that.

Most of the book is made up of action sequences on the world Leia and her crew visit to set up beacons as she is setting up the decoy. We get a cool variety of scenes for a relatively short book. A pirate attack at sea, the team crawling inside a tunnel complex full of creepy crawlies, and even a Wild West style standoff in a country town. Plus more space action scenes towards the end of the book.

I also liked the supporting cast here. Actually, that has been a trend in all these books, lots of real compelling characters. I did keep getting the tech specialist and the demolitions expert confused. That was no real fault of the writers, they gave them plenty of unique personality traits, but they kept blending together on me. My favorite character was a grizzled special forces soldier, who seemed to be her just to keep Leia focused on what war is all about. Sadly, not everyone makes it out of this one alive. Again, this is not what you normally expect from this type of book. Even in AFTERMATH, all the heroes make it to the end of the book.

I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. It was far deeper than I was expecting. I have never really been a huge Leia fan. But between this book and Waid's work on the comic mini-series, I am starting to get a new appreciation for the character.

Score: 4.5/5

 


Of the two books here, MOVING TARGET was definitely better. We got to see some real solid hints about what to expect from THE FORCE AWAKENS, and a lot of development from Leia over the course of a 30-year span. But, both of these books are worth checking out. I would suggest going digital on them, as the print copies have $15 cover prices. Though, you can probably find them cheaper if you try.