Being a grown up, real-life adult is hard. There’s so much Star Wars and so little time. Luckily for me there are audiobooks. A wonderful magical thing that reads the stories to me while I drive to work, clean the garage, wash the dishes, sit in an office, or fold my laundry. So guess what? Remember those awesome Star Wars films A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi? Well, these new retellings of these movies tell those familiar cherished stories from new perspectives! All three books from acclaimed authors are diverse in style and a fresh take on classic stories.
I’m gonna just dive into them individually now…
Also I’m not gonna give a spoiler warning on 30-year-old stories. I understand these books will introduce many younglings to these stories but as a lifelong fan I’ll be seeing these things from a slightly different-than-intended perspective.
The Princess, the Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy
This retelling of A New Hope from Alexandra Bracken starts us off on the journey that started everything one fateful day in ’77. However, this time we go on the journey through the eyes of each of the protagonists. The story starts off with the princess and her struggle aboard the Tantive IV as she desperately tries to complete her mission. Leia’s section of this book was captivating and definitely one of my favorite Princess Leia representations. Between this book and Moving Target, Leia fans definitely are getting great stuff lately! The Han Solo section was really cool and also gave us some great insight into the scoundrel with lots of hints about his future heroics. The Farm Boy section wraps up this story and I must admit at first I thought it was odd to start his story so late in the game. I was afraid we would miss seeing so much of where he came from and the beginnings of his journey. Fortunately it was not only handled well in his section, but it’s clear he could only have the ending section. It’s only by the end of this story that Luke’s choices and fate has led him to be the hero who must overcome impossible odds in the climactic battle. Not only does the character point of view give us insight into their thoughts it also gives us so much else about how they view each other; it’s a powerful, insightful, original, surprising, and refreshing take on a story we all know by heart.
So You Want to be a Jedi?
The Empire Strikes Back is given to us by Adam Gidwitz in a completely different way: by training us to be Jedi. In this adaptation we must walk through Luke Skywalker’s shoes… or boots. As we walk through the story as Luke we are stopped periodically for a Jedi lesson. Usually in the form of a small test, it reminds us and prepares us for the final confrontation with the dark side. The story is well done and pulls the reader into it in a very unique way. We laugh, fight, train, and fight as Luke does on his path. I really enjoyed the Jedi lessons, although if I had read the book at home instead of listening to the audiobook while driving I think I could have taken better advantage of the lessons to further my Jedi training…. I’m ecstatic with the fact that the publishers and authors aren’t afraid of giving us wonderful stories in new and interesting way.
Beware the Power of the Dark Side
In the final chapter of this trilogy, Return of the Jedi, Tom Angleberger tells the story in a gathering around the campfire (or Ewok village fire)-style. We sit and listen as the final (for now) chapter of our heroes unfolds. Along the way the storyteller gives us small nuggets of advice or insight into the events unfolding here. The beauty here is in the details: we learn just what Wicket is thinking, Jabba’s irritation with Bib Fortuna interrupting his nap, and many more uncovered wonders. It’s the story we all know but, once again with a bit of wit and humor, the storyteller gives this classic tale a refreshing spark.
All Together Now
These stories all shine in their own unique way. The audiobook CDs all have really cool packages with the simple beautiful cover art from the books. The audiobook presentations themselves were some of the best I’ve ever listened to. In particular The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farmboy utilized both male and female voice actors to tell the story. An idea so simple but makes this particular audiobook shine light years ahead of any other. I’ve constantly wondered while listening to many Star Wars stories (haha) over the years why this is never done. I’m not sure if it’s a budget issue or just something simply not thought of before (I can’t imagine why), but having voice actors to do both genders makes a HUGE difference to the listener and is something that I’ve been wanting in an audiobook for a long time. I hope this becomes a standard for every Star Wars audiobook rather than this rare occurrence. A great way re-experience these stories or to introduce them to someone new. I would love to see the prequel trilogy get this same treatment. I feel it would make a wonderful collection altogether with whatever new may come…
The Force Awakens anyone?