The Story Changes In The Last Jedi Novelization
So far, all Del Rey has said is that readers can expect "expanded, deleted, and all-new scenes not seen in the film." In an episode of The Star Wars Show, Fry explained that he had the chance to sit down and talk with The Last Jedi's director, Rian Johnson. "We got to write entirely new scenes for the book," he explained. "Han Solo's funeral, Rose and Paige Tico together, and further explorations of the fascinating world of Canto Bight, to name just a few."
Immediately there's some reframing of what fans read from the film, providing breathing room to the high-paced events. The Rose/Paige elements make it sounds as though the novelization will spend more time on the planet D'Qar; it was implied the First Order launched a blitzkrieg across the galaxy as soon as Starkiller Base was destroyed, including their swift attack on the Resistance at D'Qar (which they discovered the location of in The Force Awakens). This could reduce a sense of plot convenience in the opening, but also deepen later events. Paige Tico's death, for example, will have a far stronger emotional impact if readers have been able to take the time getting to know her.
The other major reframe in terms of D'Qar will be Han Solo's funeral. Han wasn't totally forgotten in the sequel, but his death was moved on from rather quickly. So, presuming this happens before the Resistance goes on the run, we'll get a chance to see the impact this has on Leia, and possibly gain some more insight into what fractured their relationship between Return of the Jedi and the Sequel Trilogy.
What will most likely soften the backlash will be more elaboration on the world and importance of Canto Bight. Johnson and Lucasfilm clearly loved creating that world; the "Journey to the Last Jedi" novels included a Canto Bight book, with novellas written by different authors. As the Canto Bight scenes were heavily edited for the theatrical cut, however, the sequence found itself criticized heavily (with some comparing it to the prequels). Expansion is sure to give it more purpose.
Could The Last Jedi Novel Be As Good As Revenge of the Sith's?
Star Wars novelizations have something of a mixed history. Some - such as the novelization for The Force Awakens or The Phantom Menace - haven't really added anything to the story, and as a result fans have felt dissatisfied with the experience.
Others, however, stand taller than the films themselves, perhaps most noteworthy Revenge of the Sith. Matthew Stover took an unusual approach; rather than simply write the novel of the film, he tried to "back-create" the story. As he told The Washington Post, he wrote "a novel as I think it might have been if he had been making the film based on it, rather than the other way around." The result was remarkably effective, diving deep into Anakin and Obi-Wan's minds and tightening the narrative (Stover ignored the Kashyyyk subplot which he felt acted as something of a diversion). The book was intense, powerful, and frankly unforgettable. Crucially, it worked apart from the film.
With its print-only scenes, The Last Jedi's is following that lead. It's unlikely to win over any ardent haters, but if the novel (which was delayed to enable this story expansion) can expand Episode VIII like Stover did Episode III, then Rian Johnson's story could find some new fans.
The novelization of The Last Jedi will release on March 6.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019