At its core, the young reader retellings of the Original Trilogy sounded like they were unnecessary. After all, hasn’t the target audience seen the movies? Doesn’t Lucasfilm have enough of our money? Thankfully, the folks over in Lucasfilm’s publishing office found a way to put a fun spin on each of the three books and definitely caught our attention with the released excerpts. All three are out today but first, obviously, is The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken. The concept is simple: tell a third of the story from the point of view of each of our three main heroes. Leia gets the first third, Han the middle, and Luke the finale and this is where the fun begins.
Bracken draws from not just the films but also the radio dramas for inspiration as she dives into each character’s heads and proves herself to be a good pick for the book and for Star Wars. At times, it can be a little jarring to read the film dialogue verbatim but that’s unavoidable for this sort of book and not a mark against her writing. Instead, it’s more worthwhile to focus on where Bracken really succeeds. It’s a relatively quick read that adds enough to the story that we already know so well to stay interesting to adult readers as well as kids. There are some lines that will make a reader laugh out loud and others that are just so beautifully written and capture everything about a moment.
Characterization is where this book really succeeds and is does so brilliantly as we get inside every characters’ head. Bracken joins an elite yet growing list of authors who write a very good Leia. She has the unenviable task of writing Leia be tortured by Vader and as she loses everything and doing so while we’re right inside of her head and she does so well. It’d be fantastic to see what she could do with the freedom to write her own plot.
Of the three sections, Luke’s is probably the least successful as it mostly ends up being starfighter battle scenes which, by their very nature, tend to be a little less engaging on the page than on the screen. The longer scene where he and Leia talk on the Falcon and then the added one with Wedge before he’s allowed to join Red Squadron are standouts for how awesome they are. It’s moments like these that make the book definitely worth reading.
While it may not be a must-have for every Star Wars fan, The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy is an enjoyable read that breaths fresh life into a classic story and Alex Bracken is definitely a welcome addition to the Star Wars galaxy.