Movies are a great way to tell stories, but they have their limitations. Too often, plot holes are explained away by convenient plot devices. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was not immune to this. Good thing, though, that a novelization was released not long after the movie’s premiere. We were treated to more backstory that tried to explain a lot, if not all, of the movie’s plot holes. Additional dialogue helped too, and with Alan Dean Foster’s way with words, one can’t help but wish that some of his lines had made it into the movie. Since the movie came out a few months ago, spoilers aren’t much of a concern here.
“What matters the gratitude of a madman?”
One of the biggest mysteries in the movies was how Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, got out of the desert planet of Jakku after crashing the TIE Fighter that he stole with Finn, an ex-Stormtrooper. Finn survived, but Poe was nowhere to be found. He did reappear later in the movie, but what happened to him in between bewildered audiences. We learn more of what happened to Mr. Dameron in the book. Naka Iit, a scavenger, comes across Poe on one of his scavenging runs, and after a run-in with some pirates, pledges to help the latter, whom he viewed as crazy, find a way to get off the planet.
“Is there a garbage chute? A trash compactor?”
One of the biggest criticisms that the movie got was how little screen time Captain Phasma got. Played by Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame, fans were excited to see Brienne of Tarth wearing chrome trooper armor. In the end though, they were left disappointed as it seemed that Phasma existed solely for the chance to crack that trash compactor joke. While the book did not expand her role by a lot, it at least helped in making her look less of a punchline. Hopefully, the character will be better utilized in her next outing. The one disappointment I have here is how the author adds to the line above with “Let’s just say I’ve had hands-on experience.” The movie only had the line above, which had already worked perfectly. It was simple but powerful enough to trigger nostalgia among those who’ve watched the first trilogy. Alan Dean Foster, even with all his artistic genius, tends to overdo it once in a while.
“You will remove these restraints. And leave this cell, with the door open, and retire to your living quarters.”
Rey, this generation’s version of Luke Skywalker, was able to fight off a Kylo Ren mind probe, execute a Jedi mind trick on James Bond dressed as a storm trooper to help her escape, and defeat Ren in a lightsaber duel, all without having a year (or was it really a day?) of Yoda-piggyback-training. All of these were explained in the book, which helped explain Rey’s latent Force abilities. With the help of the book, Rey is set up as having the potential to be a great Jedi Knight.
“All time is transitory, and mine especially so. This will go more quickly and less awkwardly if we dispense with childish nonsense.”
In the movies, Kylo Ren, formerly Ben (Solo? Or was it Organa?), and currently the president of Darth Vader’s fan club, was a dark side user with a bad temper. Shown to have the tendencies to throw tantrums from time to time (much like his grandfather, although Anakin killed Sand People, while Ren killed computers and interrogation devices), was to me just a Vader wannabe who even needed help staying in the dark side. In the book, however, his struggle between light and dark was given more gravity as we were able to get a peek inside his head. How deep he had fallen was shown better and more thoroughly than in the movie. (Warning: reading about THAT guy dying will open up some wounds.)
“Beep, beep, whistle, beep, whistle.”
That’s what R2-D2 was probably saying after coming out of its comatose state for much of the story. The biggest and most convenient plot device in my opinion. Even the book wasn’t able to explain how or why Artoo woke up from low-power mode. Hopefully, we’ll also get more insight as to what the story is behind this one. Popular theory is the arrival of Rey in the rebel base. Of course, we’ll only know for sure when new material has been released.
The book isn’t perfect, but it goes a long way to give the movie a more complete feeling. And that’s what novelizations are for anyway, right? If anything, it at least sates the hunger for more Star Wars. One Star Wars movie a year for the next five years, as well as many more books to be published, helps too.
No need to go to a galaxy far, far away. The Force Awakens (Star Wars) is available at Fully Booked Online.
Ish loves reading and sharing stories.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]