While the novel fills in some much-needed gaps, it also serves as a reminder of the threadbare story.
Amidst the seemingly never-ending race to find the Wayfinder, there are a few scenes from the movie which translate really well into print medium, such as Rey and Leia’s final embrace, and Rey vaulting over Kylo Ren’s TIE Fighter. But with no spine-tingling theme thrumming in the background to elevate the action, a majority of the scenes feel rather average. I actually ended up skipping some of the boring bits and paid attention only when the book offered something new or addressed some of the movie flaws.
One of the biggest reveals was how Palpatine survived his apparent death in Return of the Jedi, and how he came to sire a son. As it turns out, the Sith master had been supposedly preparing for the eventuality of his apprentice betraying him, so he used the Force to transfer his subconsciousness to a body that was being assembled by the Sith Eternal on Exegol mere moments before hitting the ground on the Death Star.
The book also addresses another controversy – the kiss between Rey and Ben – which was trashed as being poorly-conceived fan fiction. Author Rae Carson justifies that the pair’s kiss wasn’t romantic, but rather, a show of gratitude on Rey’s behalf. There is a line, which I really enjoyed, on Rey considering building a lightsaber that felt more like a quarterstaff, which probably confirms that her yellow lightsaber at the end of the movie is double-bladed.
“She eyed the unfinished lightsaber on her workbench. It wasn’t ready yet, and the one she’d painstakingly repaired — Luke’s — didn’t belong to her. In fact, someday, once she had mastered this lightsaber-building business, she might design one that felt more like a quarterstaff in her hand. Familiar and hefty. Two business ends. Maybe with a hinge in the middle for portability.”
With Rey being one of the all-time favorite female fictional characters (along with Eowyn, Ginny, Arya, Vin, and Wanda Maximoff), I really hope we see more adventures of Rey, wielding a yellow lightsaber, and a continuation of her story through other mediums.
The book has other interesting Easter Eggs as well, but I’d recommend The Rise of Skywalker’s official novelization only for die-hard fans. For the rest, I’d suggest checking out any of the clickbaity ‘Things we learned from the Star Wars book’ posts.