The Saga Continues is a new post series that explores the Star Wars new canon book universe. The Last Jedi novelization, expanded edition by Jason Fry, adds in plenty of extra details that make it a valuable resource in understanding the movie better, plus additional scenes developed with the help of director Rian Johnson.
The Last Jedi wasn’t the easiest Star Wars film to follow. Its overlapping plots rarely went in the direction you assumed, twisting away from predictable story developments in favor of surprising shifts and upended expectations. Jason Fry’s expanded novel really helps to make sense of everything that went on during the film’s two-and-a-half-hour length, particularly when it comes to character motivation.
That extra insight into what’s going on in the heads of characters like Kylo Ren, Admiral Holdo, and Poe Dameron adds lots of new dimensions to the story. I was especially grateful for this when it came to the scenes with Luke on Ahch-To. The precise reasons for Luke’s self-imposed exile and his treatment of Rey were never explicitly stated during The Last Jedi, and hearing Luke’s feelings as we move through these scenes helped me appreciate his mental state and how that changes from where we find him at the beginning of the film to where we leave him at the end. Other things are also made significantly clearer through Fry’s treatment of the story, including Leia’s Force abilities and Rey’s experiences in the strange repeating-Rey cave scene.
The extra scenes that are new to this expanded edition Last Jedi novelization were all well handled and often slipped into the narrative so subtly that I struggled to recall if the scene was indeed new, or one that I’d simply forgotten about three months after last watching the film. The scenes serve to give us extra insight into the characters, allowing us to see Han’s “funeral” and its impact on Leia, and see a glimpse of the intense sisterly bond between Rose and Paige. The relationship between Rose and Finn is also elaborated on, allowing us a clearer window on the way their friendship grows and how that impacts Finn’s change of heart regarding the Resistance cause. There’s a rather odd extra scene on Ahch-To about halfway through the book that is the only one that I didn’t feel added a huge amount to the story, but it was so much fun that, honestly, that doesn’t feel like a problem.
One final thing I particularly enjoyed about The Last Jedi novelization was picking up on the references to other Star Wars new canon novels that the film couldn’t include. Anyone who has read Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Phasma, or The Legends of Luke Skywalker will find little nuggets dotted throughout this book referring back to those events and helping to continue building the elaborate cross-media universe that the Lucasfilm Story Group is working so hard on to great effect. There’s even a little nod to Inferno Squad. It was especially interesting to see one misconception that has grown among the First Order ranks about a specific character, an assumption you would know is technically wrong if you had read one of the books mentioned above. For even more examples of these inter-story references, I highly recommend you check out “70 Facts from The Last Jedi Novelization” on the Star Wars Explained YouTube channel—though beware of spoilers from across the Star Wars new canon books.
This wasn’t my favorite book of the Star Wars new canon; film novelizations never are, as they are forced to adhere to the plot of a story designed primarily for a visual medium and don’t have the scope to go into the same depth as the other novels. However, this is another excellent addition to the canon and one I feel has given me new insight on the film. I’m looking forward to watching The Last Jedi again once it is finally released on Blu-Ray here in the UK because, with the new understanding gained from reading this book, I feel that the film will have even more to offer me in the future. Finally, the audiobook edition is narrated by Star Wars veteran Marc Thompson whose performance I loved on Heir to The Jedi, and you can listen for free with an Audible trial.
GeekMom received this book for review purposes.