Rogue One – Book vs. Movie

I don’t know how to review this book.  I really enjoyed it.  At the same time, I felt like it didn’t live up to its potential.  If someone asked me if I would recommend it, I would most definitely say “yes.”  But I was hoping it would add more to the movie than what I saw on the screen.  They say a book is better than the movie generally, but that’s usually because the book adds details to the story they can’t fit into two hours on film.  And while Alexander Freed’s novelization of Rogue One definitely added depth to the characters, it didn’t significantly add to the story.

The cover of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed
The cover of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story by Alexander Freed

Title: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Author: Alexander Freed
Cost: $28.99
Age: 12 and up
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Star Wars fiction

What I was hoping for was sort of a director’s cut version of the movie in novel form; scenes that didn’t make it into the movie but would have served as adding depth to the action.  There were a couple of scenes that you wouldn’t have seen in the movie, in particular an in-depth conversation between Mon Mothma and General Draven.  But overall, the only added material was all internal, what a character thought or what a character’s motivation was.  Those were done through internal dialogue instead of actual action.  I would have loved to learn more about the Whills and Jedha.  It would have been great to go in depth into Jyn’s training with Saw and witness through prose how and why he left her, drawing allusions perhaps to being left behind by her parents in that hole in the cave.  Speaking of which the cave metaphor went on much too long in the novel.  Almost every chapter referred to the cave in Jyn’s mind.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story..Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in foreground, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) in background..Ph: Film Frame..Copyright 2016 Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved
One of my favorite scenes in the book because of how Freed illustrates Jyn’s move from rebellious youth to Rebel leader.  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story..Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in foreground, Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) in background..Ph: Film Frame..Copyright 2016 Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd., All Rights Reserved

That being said, I really enjoyed reading the book.  It flowed well.  It kept the action going.  The suspense you felt while watching the movie was equally felt while reading it.  Freed did a great job of blending the near futility of the Rebel mission on Scarif with the emotions and drive of the characters involved.  It didn’t seem far-fetched or a stretch to imagine that Jyn and company could pull it off.  Instead, it seemed like a troop that faced certain death and did what needed to be done to accomplish the mission.  The details about the Hammerhead Corvette plunging into the Star Destroyer was so much more real and heartfelt than even what was seen on the screen.  The one part I wish he would have done in more depth was the scene of Vader ripping through the Rebel defenses to get the tape off the ship.  On screen that scene was much more menacing and devastating.  All in all, I couldn’t put it down.

If you love a good read and you love Rogue One this is a winner for your reading list.  Freed does a great job of translating the story into prose and adds enough detail to make it just as gripping as you see on the screen.

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