Book Review: Star Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, Phil Noto
Star Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, Phil Noto
Genre: Space Opera
Series: Star Wars
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press (December 2015)
Author Info: gregrucka.com
Artist Info: philnoto.tumblr.com
Wendy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Poe Dameron’s first ship was
his mother’s RZ-1 A-wing.”
This book had a lot of things going for it when I saw it at the book store:
(1) My deep love of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and all its wondrous flaws
(2) My love of expanded universes and a desire to return to the first expanded universe I’ve ever loved.
(3) Greg Rucka
(4) Poe Dameron
(5) Gorgeous art by Phil Noto, who is now my new favourite artist because he draws amazing stuff like this:
So, I bought it. Unquestioningly. And read it all while my artist completed my new tattoo. It is a quick read, with large print and young protagonists that drop this book into the young adult category, but it can, of course, be appreciated by anyone, especially people like me who are looking to fill in some of the many blanks the fast-moving film left behind.
The book follows Finn, Rey, and Poe, in that order, in respective short stories that lead up to the film. While all of the stories are good, Finn’s was the most disappointing simply because it was predictable. It adds a layer to Finn that doesn’t quite jive with what we see of him in the film and even feels forced in certain aspects. We already know that he is the kind-hearted, loyal stormtrooper who did not care so much for the ways of the First Order, so other than getting to see more Captain Phasma, this story does not add a whole lot more to Finn’s story. I had hoped to learn more about his fun times in the sanitation department, but alas.
Rey’s story strengthens her character by not letting all of her formidable skills be entirely attributable to the Force. Her ingenuity, her self-reliance, and her determination are at the forefront, which is to be expected, but the story that wraps around her gives us a little bit more, especially when it comes to her skills as a pilot and a mechanic.
Finally, my favourite story about my favourite character: Poe is introduced through his recollections of being a young boy flying with his mother from whom he gained his passion, and from his father, from whom he learned to question the meaning and goals of war. Both Kes Dameron and Shara Bey feature prominently in the Greg Rucka comic, Star Wars: Shattered Empire, but the book does not dwell on their exploits there. The story carries a sense of sadness that teeters on the edge of hopelessness that the wars that were fought and won, ultimately are meaningless if nothing truly changes. One of the things missing from the movie was a deeper understanding of the political tides and machinations of the Republic, the First Order, and the Resistance. Poe’s story provides a bit more insight into that aspect.