“If you’re reading this, then something’s gone wrong. You’re stranded on Jakku–a barren little planet with nothing but baking sand, hot sun, and wrecked starships. Stranded like me.” – Rey
Once again I find myself writing about another kind of book I never thought I’d read–much less write about on here. This time it’s a type of guidebook targeted towards children that is written as an in-universe book authored by Rey, from The Force Awakens.
The real author is actually Jason Fry, who also wrote the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” books The Weapon of a Jedi and Moving Target. He has also written a few Star Wars Rebels tie-in novels, and has worked on a multitude of other Star Wars sourcebooks and visual guides in the past. So, writing this kind of book is right up his alley.
One thing that isn’t clear to me is if we’re actually supposed to believe that Rey really wrote this book in the canon. I assume that all the information contained in this book is canon information, but I’m having a hard time believing that Rey was actually writing all of this stuff down, especially since part of the book was written during the events of The Force Awakens. When she’s off camera in the movie, was she really writing this? I don’t know.
Anyway, to be honest, I never intended on reading this book. I actually went to the store on December 18th-the official release date for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens-to buy another book called Before the Awakening, which is a book that gives us a little bit of backstory for Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron from the movie. The store had zero copies of that book in stock, but I saw this book sitting there on the shelf, so I flipped through a few pages. Being irresponsible with my money, I decided to buy it just because I didn’t want to leave the store empty-handed.
In the end I was actually glad I picked this book up. It’s a very short book, but it acts as a neat little supplement to The Force Awakens, and it reading it actually enhanced my experience watching the movie on my second viewing. I picked up on little details that I didn’t before I read the book, and I felt like I knew a few extra tidbits of information about Jakku that most people watching the movie would never pick up on without seeking out additional information found in other sources, such as this book.
The inside of the book is designed to look like the inside of someone’s actual journal. The pages are colored to look old and worn out, and the font looks like somebody’s handwriting. Throughout the book are also many sketches of different creatures, characters, ships, tools, locations, and other things that are meant to be drawn by Rey. It’s a very visually appealing book. I am a fan of the design for sure.
The book provides information about life on Jakku, all from Rey’s perspective. Rey writes about what the planet is like, what her living situation is like, what life on Jakku is like, etc… She describes the wildlife of Jakku, and gives an overview of some of the geography. She goes into detail about what it is like being a scavenger on Jakku, and what you need to do to survive and be successful on the planet. Rey writes about some of the characters we meet in the movie, and about some we don’t see on-screen.
It’s a fun little look into the life of Rey and a neat way to get a better idea of who she is, and why she is the way she is. It’s also just a great way to get a little more context for her character and for the whole part of the movie that takes place on Jakku.
My favorite thing about the book was that it answered questions I had after I saw the movie. Questions like “how is Rey such an amazing mechanic?” and “how is she such a good pilot?” and “how does she know so many languages?” This book answers those questions, and helps me to understand her character better.
The other thing I enjoyed were little nods to other canon stories. There are little nods to Lost Stars, and Weapon of a Jedi in this book, as well as short descriptions and drawings of some of the characters who starred in Landry Q. Walker’s Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens short stories. There may have been references to other canon works that I could have missed, but those were the ones I noticed.
The book is very short. It is not a novel, but it still manages to tell a bit of a story about Rey, from her own perspective. More than anything this book is a guidebook that acts as fun supplementary reading after watching The Force Awakens.
I only have one real complaint about the book, and it’s that in the last few pages, when the book starts tying into The Force Awakens, and Rey is writing about events that happened in the early parts of the movie, some of the things that are written don’t match up with what we see in the movie. For example, in this book Rey writes that she has no idea who Luke Skywalker is, even though when she first hears his name in the movie it is clear that she has heard of him before. There are other little things like that that bugged me, but nothing big, and nothing that ruins the book. Plus, like I mentioned, these little inconsistencies are only in the last few pages of the book as far as I can tell from what I remember about the movie. That’s always a risk when you have to write a book like this before the movie is finished.
Some of the extra details match up with things we see in the novelization of The Force Awakens, like how Rey tried selling BB-8 to Unkar Plutt for 100 portions instead of 60. Didn’t happen in the movie, but it happened in both of these books, and it was fun to make the connection.
For what this book was, I enjoyed it. This type of book is not my favorite kind of book to read, but this one was written well and put together in a nice way. It helped me appreciate certain aspects of The Force Awakens a little bit more, and if that’s what this book was setting out to do, then it did a good job of it.