Book Con 2015: Review: New Adaptations of the Star Wars Saga

Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor-in-Chief

Official Description: Hear from these bestselling children’s book authors how the classic Star Wars saga comes to life through adaptations. Tony DiTerlizzi (The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight), Alexandra Bracken (Star Wars: A New Hope), Adam Gidwitz (Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back), and Tome Angleberger (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi).

At the New Adaptations of the Star Wars Saga Panel at Book Con 2015, the Disney Lucasfilm Press handed out a book compiling excerpts from “three unique retellings of the Star Wars classic trilogy.” Authors Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds), Adam Gidwiz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), and Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda) give the original Star Wars tales their own personal spin. The question remains, however: will they hold up?

Star Wars: A New Hope
The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy
by Alexandra Bracken

The first three chapters of The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy revolve around Princess Leia during the capture of the Tantive IV. Alexandra Bracken clearly knows her stuff when it comes to Star Wars as she integrates a flawless use of third person subjective voice. Because the story revolves around Leia, the third-person narration is filtered through her, so all the information we get directly relates to Leia’s history and character. Bracken’s voice in incredibly captivating, making us remember that Leia’s only 19 when A New Hope begins. We’re treated to a closer look at what it’s like to be an Imperial Senator and how Leia’s journey has been prior to Darth Vader arriving on the Tantive IV. This is where those references to the larger Star Wars universe come in: mentions of Leia visiting war-torn villages on Kashyyk, wondering if the children would be sold off to the spice mines on Kessel. It’s at these moments that Bracken inserts a phenomenal amount of realness to the narrative, showing that even in the Star Wars universe, reporters and press would rather ask Princess Leia who made her dress rather than ask what her plans were to help the orphans she was there visiting.

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy is an immediate Star Wars classic, at least judging by the phenomenal first chapters shown in this preview. We’re going to get a stronger look inside the Empire and–if Leia’s chapters are any indication–farm life on Tatooine and the life of a smuggler. Bracken is a wonderful addition to the authors who have created new Star Wars stories and hopefully we’ll get to see her on other books as well, in the future.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
So You Want to be a Jedi?
by Adam Gidwitz

If nothing else, Adam Gidwitz’s authorial style is fascinating. The book is written in second person, as if you were Luke Skylwaker himself, and interspersed between chapters are Jedi lessons (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and so forth). The first chapter was all about Luke out in the snow, directly out of The Empire Strikes Back. As with The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy, all information is filtered through Luke’s perspective. For example, Gidwitz skips over Han and Leia’s romantic encounter when Han tries to leave, saying that that’s not relevant where a Jedi student is concerned. This tongue-and-cheek style of writing engages us in the narrative and makes it flow more. Gidwitz’s style is a bit choppy and takes a bit to get into, but once you’ve accepted the unusual way he presents the narrative, there’s a lot of good content throughout his chapters. We’re only shown the first three chapters in this preview, but Gidwitz establishes in those chapters that he’s masterful when it comes to authorial intent. From the beginning, it might seem like those Jedi lessons–which are written out of time of the narrative and read more like a fun textbook–disrupt the narrative, but Gidwitz uses the things he talks about in those lessons in the main narrative. In the case of this preview, directly after showing a breathing exercise for meditation in Lesson Beta, Luke uses it in the story.

It’s these kinds of instances that show that Gidwitz knows exactly what he wants to do with the narrative. If the quality of the first three chapters are any indication, So You Want to be a Jedi will be another great addition to the Star Wars catalog of books, especially for younger readers.

Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi
Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
by Tom Angleberger

Tom Angleberger injects most humor and fun into Beware the Power of the Dark Side! than the other new books. It’s that humor that carries the first three chapters of the book. The chapters are much shorter compared to the other books, but that’s why Angleberger’s fun tone works. Just take his description of C-3PO and R2D2: “They’re droids. Sort of like robots, but better.” It’s clear that Beware the Power of the Dark Side! will be a much more lighthearted take on the story than the source material, but the first three chapters really lack enough substance to base a good review off of. Angleberger takes on a conversationalist tone with his writing, so he’s able to include a lot of detail off hand and nonchalantly throughout the narrative. While he says a lot about characters like Jabba, they’re stuff we already know and it doesn’t add to the Star Wars experience like the other two books did with their first three chapters. Because Angleberger’s chapters are so short, it’s hard to see exactly what kind of spin he’ll bring to the story. As it stands, his fun authorial style is what’s going to drive the rest of this book forward.

Each author has their own unique style telling these very familiar stories. Whether it’s a grounded like Bracken, unique like Gidwitz, or hilarious like Angleberger, each of these new stories have something to offer that’s puts a new spin on the original trilogy. These books will be on sale September 22, 2015, so expect a full review of each later down the line.


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