Book Review: Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View @DelReyStarWars

52866089 - Book Review: Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View @DelReyStarWars

Forty Years.

Forty Stories.

Publisher’s Perspective:

On May 25, 1977, the world was introduced to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and a galaxy full of possibilities. In honor of the 40th anniversary, more than forty contributors lend their vision to this retelling of Star Wars. Each of the forty short stories reimagines a moment from the original film, but through the eyes of a supporting character. From a Certain Point of View features contributions by bestselling authors, trendsetting artists, and treasured voices from the literary history of Star Wars.

Decades of rich storytelling were sparked by one film, in part because the Star Wars galaxy feels alive. Strange and wonderful characters fill the edges of the screen and make us wonder:

What are their stories?

Review:

After forty years and many generations later, Star Wars is still the most talked about, blogged about, and unrivaled cultural phenomenon in storytelling history. No other story can hold a candle or rather, a lightsaber to it. It’s inspired and influenced generations of not only fans but creators alike. And ‘Operation Blue Milk,’ better known as ‘From A Certain Point of View,’ is no exception.

Like Star Wars itself, ‘From A Certain Point of View’ tells a series of stories that don’t always pertain to one, single, solitary character. It’s ambiguous and thought-provoking. It keeps you on your toes and forces you to rethink what you already thought you knew. As Master Yoda once said, “you must unlearn what you have learned.” Or, perhaps, from a different point of view you could do as Obi-Wan once instructed:

Go home and rethink your life.

Introduction:

The novel starts off with Gary Whitta as he recounts the final moments from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story through the eyes of Raymus Antilles. This story is such sucker punch to the emotional feels that you can’t help but be sucked in for the long haul. Beyond that, Whitta connects the continuity between Rogue One and A New Hope almost flawlessly. Reading it for the first time left me breathless over how effortlessly the words poured off the pages. So much so that honestly, I can’t see it happening any other way. And now, I know, how it all went down for Raymus, Princess Leia, and Darth Vader aboard the Tantive IV. A point of view or not, it’s how I’ll see it going forward and for years to come.

Timeline:

Following Raymus’ story, the stories filter into a neat bow of events that follow the flow of Star Wars: A New Hope. Each story plays out by keeping time with the timeline. It’s like seeing or rather, reading, a whole new story. Well actually, it is new. Well, it’s a fresh perspective to be exact. And that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes things need a little freshening up. Sometimes you need to add a little spice or in this case, a little salt. Yes, that pun is intentional.

The story itself stays on target where the timeline is concerned, but the experience is new and refreshing. We’re no longer immersed in Luke’s farmboy journey to become a Jedi like his father. Instead, we take a slight left turn at the Great Chott salt flat in the Jundland Wastes and run into some Jawas, Tusken Raiders, Biths, Bounty Hunters, and even some smugglers too. And as the Millennium Falcon leaves Tatooine, so does the story. Unfortunately for some of the characters, they’re unable to avoid Imperial entanglements. But, where there’s Imperials, there are rebels too.

Location:

On Tatooine, we experience what it’s like to be a Bith Band in a rough and tough Cantina. Or, a Jawa with a fetish for digital recordings from beings he’s never met. A Tusken Raider, trying to make some quick credits to get off-world, but ends up finding her true purpose instead. But I digress.

A galaxy far, far away wouldn’t be much fun without strange and wondrous worlds to visit. And just like the original story, we don’t stay put for long. I mean, there’s only so much sand one can stand. After all, it is coarse and rough, and it does get everywhere. So, after a not so brief stay on Tatooine, we take to the stars. Visiting familiar places like Alderaan, Dagobah, Yavin 4, and the dreaded Death Star.

While the stories take to their new locations, new thought-provoking, and exciting tales unfold. Familiar characters that we only had glimpses at become the focal point. What are their stories?

Familiar Faces:

Since we are reviewing a book based solely on perception, I’m about to give mine based on a few familiar faces and their stories. For starters, Queen Breha and Bail Organa of Alderaan. The adoptive parents of Princess Leia and their everlasting belief that she will bring hope to those that have none.

Eclipse is their story. The title is both amazingly appropriate and equally heartbreaking. Madeleine Roux brought us to the forefront of those final moments of Alderaan before it became stardust. While reading their heartbreak over their homeworld meeting its end, and fear for their daughter’s well-being, all I could think about was Bail Organa’s words to Master Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of Sith. “She’ll be loved with us.” And she was.

Well, we can’t talk about Alderaan without mentioning the man responsible for its demise. Wilhuff Tarkin. In his story, Verge of Greatness by Pablo Hidalgo, we get an in-depth look at what was going on in his head when he decided to blast an entire planet into oblivion. And Director Krennic was never far from his thoughts. After all, Krennic’s creation was Tarkin’s destruction.

Speaking of that so-called Technological Terror, the Death Star, and Tarkin, we can’t leave out the good guys. Good guys like the Rebels, like Biggs Darklighter. Yes, that’s right, Luke Skywalker’s best friend. His story is Desert Son by Pierce Brown. Desert Son follows the reunion of Luke and Biggs on Yavin 4 and ends with Biggs’ final moments in the trench run. This one, for some reason, seemed to get me right in the “feels,” if you know what I mean. Knowing how Biggs felt, right to the end, he would follow Luke anywhere. And with that final realization, his fear is gone, and there is only peace.

Wow! So many stories and so little time. Stories that include: Aunt Beru, “Fake Wedge,” Dex Tiree, Wedge Antilles, Mon Mothma, Palpatine, and yes, even Lando. But, I must carry on and move on to the next category. The Force.

The Force:

The Force is as old as time itself. It’s a story marker that seems to stop time in its tracks and is a continuum all its own. That said, the story of Reirin by Sabaa Tahir fits that description like a glove. A Tusken glove.

Reirin is a female Tusken Raider on a mission. She’s searching for a rock that will trade her enough credits to get-off the dustball planet of Tatooine. Until, of course, she connects with the item. She decides not to give it up and places her destiny in fates hands. Reirin and her crystal will find a way.

Another Force story is Master and Apprentice by Claudia Gray. Now, if you recall, when we last saw Qui-Gon Jinn he was a cluster of twinkling lights. He appeared before Yoda in a time of need and confided in his old Master that his training was incomplete. Was. But now, we see that he has achieved the ability to manifest himself within the Force. Yes, Qui-Gon has learned how to retain his identity after many years in the Netherworlds. In those years, he has taken up residence in the company of his former padawan, Obi-Wan Kenobi. It’s a story of heart, endurance, and hope. No matter what, the Force will always find a way.

Indeed, find a way. The Force is always at work even in Cavan Scott’s Time of Death. This story traces the last moments of Obi-Wan’s life. The phrase, “my life flashed before my eyes” rings true in this story. Obi-Wan is forced to face everything he has ever done, both the good and the bad, in a matter of seconds. Eyes. Scream. Saber. Pain. Through it all, Kenobi not only revisits the past but he catches glimpses of the future. And it’s too much to bear for it is a future he never wants to see.

But, on that note, There is Another by Gary D. Schmidt which forces us to unlearn what we have learned. Since the dawn of Star Wars, we have been made to believe that Luke was the one to become a Jedi like his father before him. Well, that is, until now. We now learn the truth or, so we’re told. Apparently, Master Yoda had a different plan in mind. And it did not include Luke Skywalker. Nope. Yoda had had hopes to train his twin sister, Leia. Now that’s a twist! I wonder if Luke ever found that out? See, just when we think we have it all figured out, we don’t because that’s not how the Force works.

Alas, I must wrap this up. Otherwise, this could go on without end. All in all, these short stories are a refreshing take on a story we’ve known, like the back of your hand, for forty years. These collective works are emotionally satisfying and thought-provoking perspectives that will only spark the ingenuity of fans, and upcoming creators alike for generations to come. To quote Paul S. Kemp, “small sparks can start big fires.”

Thanks to Del Rey Publishing for providing us with an advanced copy of Star Wars: From A Certain Point of View for review purposes.

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Becca

I do Star Wars! It's a verb. Former EIC of The Cantina Cast. Host and owner of Kanata's Castle Podcast and Tarkin's Top Shelf. A contributor for: Coffee with Kenobi, Jedi News, and Making Star Wars, and a titlist for Lucasfilm artist Steve Anderson.

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