As part of Disney’s introduction of Star Wars to a new generation of fans, they commissioned three authors Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds), Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark & Grimm), and Tom Angleberger (Origami Yoda) to write middle grade retellings of the events of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi.
In addition to the printed books, audiobook adaptations have been made by Listening Library (a division of Penguin Random House).
Alexandra Bracken’s book comes in a 5-disc set running 300 minutes. It includes the unabridged book as well as a very cool word from the author at the end of the story.
The audiobook features the vocal talents of Marc Thompson and Rebecca Soler and features both music and sound effects through the story.
As the titles suggests the book is structured around three sections each focused on one of the big three characters, the book starts with Leia as “the Princess,” followed by Han as “the Scoundrel,” and concludes with Luke as “the farmboy.”
It is interesting to note that the author in her note at the end of the story mentions three inspirations for the book, the original script of George Lucas, Brian Daley’s NPR radio dramatization, and her own imagination. I found this interesting because while listening I couldn’t help but go back to Daley’s beloved work.
Listening to Bracken’s story it is easy to see it as the spiritual successor to Daley’s work, sharing a similar spirit with a slightly different perspective and altered for modern sensibilities. Just as Jedi teaching may change slightly from Master to Apprentice to Apprentice, the story of A New Hope has change and been reinterpreted since Lucas originally laid down the story. If Lucas’ script is the Qui-Gon, and Daley’s story the Obi-Wan, then Bracken’s story is the Luke.
Bracken stays true to the A New Hope story that we know and love, but from extending scenes to showing what happened just off camera, or scenes invented whole cloth we delve deeper into the characters and their motivations. Perhaps my favorite scene that she adds is a conversation between Luke and Leia aboard the Falcon, that may capture Luke’s character better than just about anything that we have seen in a book.
She is able to do what Daley did before her, and what any good adaptation does. Bracken’s story gives even greater depth to Star Wars: A New Hope and is a book that is re-readable as the movie is re-watchable.
This is a must listen for all Star Wars fans and is available now on CD for $25 or as an audiobook download for $20. So curl up next to the fireplace with a glass of blue milk and this audiobook and get lost in that galaxy far, far away.