[This articles contains SPOILERS for Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens.]
Star Wars Episode VII - The Force Awakens in now in theaters across the globe and it's all anyone can talk about - Screen Rant included. Whether it's been exploring the backstory of Kylo Ren, discussing what Luke Skywalker has been up to all these years, or if [REDACTED] is related to [REDACTED], it all boils down to one thing - The Force Awakens left us with more questions than answers.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if the saga's forthcoming installments intend to provide those answers, but a few of The Force Awakens' dangling threads have proven frustrating. This has led to some concern over whether Episode VIII or IX will actually answer these questions, or if they're just big, ugly plot holes.
To the rescue comes the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster - the same author who ghost-wrote the novelization of Star Wars in 1977, forming yet another link between The Force Awakens and the Original Trilogy.
As it turns out, the Episode VII novel does provide details on a few matters the film doesn't communicate as clearly as it could. This may be because the novelization was adapted from an earlier version of the script, or that once filming began certain elements simply didn't work. Either way, thanks to The Force Awakens novelization a little more information has been revealed.
The Daily Dot has compiled a list of these crucial new details from the novelization, including one of the most nagging points: Why does R2-D2 reactivate when he does? For filmgoers, the moment feels an awful lot like a lazy ex machina, but had they simply included the moment as its described in the novel there'd be no need for added explanation.
In the novel, Artoo hears members of the Resistance discussing a map to Luke (actually the first Jedi temple), which Rey explains came "from the Imperial archives." It's that phrase, "Imperial archives" that triggers the low-power mode Artoo into waking up, since when previously on the Death Star he downloaded the entire Imperial archive himself. At that moment, R2-D2 realizes he must also have a copy of the map, and as the novel explains, "...no one noticed that a light had come on atop a small R2 unit shoved back among the rest of the equipment in the room." Artoo boots back to life, delivers the map, and so goes the story.
However, Abrams explained that in the film it's BB-8 coming to R2-D2 with his section of the map and asking if Artoo has the rest of it that triggers his awakening. That scene happens much earlier in the film, too, which means it takes longer between when Artoo hears this and when he finally wakes up than it does in the novel. Still, had they chosen to include a cut to Artoo like the novel mentions, it'd have been enough to at least suggest the droid's full return, saving the moment of his return from feeling like such a stroke of luck.
Much like the added insight into why R2-D2 powers on when he does, the novel also gives a deeper look into both Kylo Ren and Rey's emotions. Both characters have their share of intense moments throughout The Force Awakens, and Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley do a wonderful job at expressing how their characters are feeling within those moments. But it can never compare with the clarity of reading a character's innermost thoughts while the action is happening. Along these lines, The Force Awakens novelization digs in to how Kylo Ren feels after murdering Han Solo, makes it explicitly clear that Ren recognizes Rey, and explores Rey's own inner struggle against the dark side.
As it happens, there are some important questions from the film with answers only found in the novel, so do check out The Daily Dot's full list.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.