Top 4 Star Wars Film Novelizations
By: Meg Dowell
Beyond the Screen
Every Star Wars movie that has been released so far has its own tie-in novelization -- even The Clone Wars. Some closely follow the original script, copying dialogue word-for-word. Others take their respective screenplays and create completely new works of art with them.
But many of these books go far beyond retelling deleted scenes and explaining obscure references that might fly over casual moviegoers’ heads. Some authors manage to take well-developed characters and make them even more relatable -- making their audiences even more empathetic.
If you’re considering picking up any Star Wars novelizations in the future, make an effort to add these to your shelf or virtual library.
REVENGE OF THE SITH by Matthew Stover
The events of the Revenge of the Sith film are fast-paced and jarring, as they should be. But the final installment of the prequel trilogy falls prey to the same flaws as the two films that came before it. It simply could not allow the time necessary to fully develop each character and the events leading up to the movie’s climax in less than three hours.
Enter Matthew Stover.
The author of this film’s novelization used his mastery of the written word to explain every “why” or “how” that may have crept into your mind while watching the movie over a dozen times in the past 12 years.
He emphasizes, for example, that Anakin spends weeks, if not months, struggling with sleep deprivation. Wouldn’t you feel tempted by the worst decisions known to Jedi if you weren’t sleeping? Even more significantly, the book goes deeper into the close relationship between Obi-Wan and Anakin. “You were my brother! I loved you!” means so much more when you get to see how brotherly they truly had become.
Many Star Wars fans have happily deemed this the best Star Wars book of all time. If the most significant turning point in Star Wars lore for you is the moment Anakin ceases to be and Darth Vader takes control, this book does it justice -- and then some.
RETURN OF THE JEDI by James Kahn
At the time Return of the Jedi was released, it was the end of one story arc and the potential beginning of another. This story had to convey the moment light overcame dark, a prophecy was fulfilled, and balance was restored to the Force -- and the universe.
But you can only fit so much story into one movie. That’s where James Kahn came in, attempted to make an already brilliant Star Wars story even greater, and conquered.
Because the movie doesn’t offer internal dialogue, the book lets you into Vader’s mind and experience his inner conflict as he struggles to balance his loyalty to Palpatine with the knowledge that doing so could destroy his son. Redemption is so much sweeter when you get to live inside a villain's head.
Readers also get to witness Luke Skywalker building his own lightsaber. Why wasn’t that scene in the movie?!
You may also find reading this book worthwhile if you’re curious about how much the prequel trilogy changed from the publishing of this book to the release of The Phantom Menace. At that point, Luke and Leia were still much older when their mother died, and Owen Lars apparently had a completely different relationship to the Skywalkers.
This is Star Wars history in a completely different light -- seeing how much shifted along the creative processes of each film.
THE LAST JEDI by Jason Fry
Jason Fry’s version of The Last Jedi follows Rian Johnson’s script word-for-word at points like many other film novelizations do, but when it veers from what we see on screen, it manages to round out many of the characters that the film -- for the sake of time -- couldn’t give enough screen time.
We can see throughout the film that Luke Skywalker has been hurt, worn down and isolated from everything he’s loved. But the book drives home the point that he has deliberately closed himself off from the Force -- making his actions throughout the remainder of the story more powerful and significant than ever.
Readers of this novelization are also given the pleasure (or dismay) of seeing Leia Organa properly grieve for her late husband. The film skips over his funeral as well as his widow’s tears. The book brings us right beside Leia and proceeds to break our hearts right along with the shattering of hers.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY by Mur Lafferty
Mur Lafferty’s adaption of Solo: A Star Wars Story takes a well-structured Star Wars film and enhances it so skillfully it becomes its own separate work of art.
While the film skips straight over Han Solo’s Imperial Flight Academy days, the novel uses it to further enforce the depth of his character. While the movie has no choice but to downplay Beckett’s grief over the loss of Val (sadly, it’s not a Beckett film), the book embraces it enough to make his death even more heartbreaking.
And there’s no way to highlight everything good about Solo without mentioning the epilogue. Only through the book’s final pages does the reader grasp a full understanding of how important Enfys Nest truly is to what will one day be called the Rebel Alliance.
This novel doesn’t stick to the original screenplay word-for-word. It merely uses it as a foundation to build something all Star Wars fans can -- and should -- enjoy.
Still not convinced?
Or go check out our Youtini Round Table where we discussed how much we loved it!
Even if you usually skip over film novelizations, these add something to their respective stories you definitely don’t want to miss out on. Books always allow more room for characters to grow and for readers to fall in love with them.
Give them a chance. You might find they’re more than just different ways to absorb your favorite stories after all.
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About Meg Dowell
Meg is a health science writer by day and a Star Wars enthusiast 24/7. What started out as one spontaneous movie night with her dad quickly morphed into a lifelong quest to read everything that has ever been written about the world’s greatest fictional galaxy. She lives in Illinois with her cat, dog, and medal-worthy book collection, and believes any conversation in which Star Wars references are applicable is one worth having.
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