Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (junior reader) by Ryder Windham

     Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back  written by Ryder Windham continues the original trilogy novelizations for junior readers that were released as part of the 40th anniversary of A New Hope. Another enjoyable rendition of an original trilogy story, this book took me right back to everything I loved about The Empire Strikes Back. Of course there were places where I think the book could have done more and dug deeper, but overall it was a spot-on retelling. Check out my previous review of Windham's version of Star Wars: A New Hope.
     The prologue opens up with Vader wondering about all that has transpired...but frustratingly only about A New Hope. We know he's been through so much more with the Rebels through the comic books and I was left aching for more canon connections. "Because Darth Vader had once lived on Tattooine, he was nagged by two questions: how long had Obi-Wan been there? And why?" Surely he's already figured out that Obi-Wan must've been looking after his son.
     The Imperial probe droids were packaged in hyperdrive pods that sent the droids on a one-way trip, all going to different parts of the galaxy. Thousands were deployed.
     Luke's mission when the movie opens was to find any signs of life that could damage the warning sensors being placed by Han. The Rebels only wanted to be alerted to the Empire not to Tauntauns.
     When Luke recounts all that he's been through he only thinks about his aunt and uncle and the pilots lost at The Battle of Yavin, but we know from the comic books that he has been through SO MUCH MORE!! I found this incredibly frustrating and once again wished that this book had done a better job of connecting to the other canon that is out there between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.
     I've read before that the snowspeeders on Hoth were actually modified T-47 airspeeders. This book explained how: repulsor-coil heaters were added to prevent the motors from freezing.
     What was the plan for the snowspeeder pilots to escape Hoth? "R2-D2 was to guide Luke's X-wing starfighter out of the hangar through the south entrance of Echo Base, then meet Luke on the slope near the ion cannon." I've always wondered about the particulars of their escape.
     Apparently Chewbacca has blue eyes!
     One area this book does dig deep thoughts and emotions wise is the relationship between Leia and least from Leia's point of view. "I don't know what's worse, Leia thought. Feeling furious at Han, or feeling...something else.
Something she didn't want to acknowledge."
A few pages later, after Han and Leia's kiss, Leia continues to mull over the possibilities of being with Han and what that could mean to her relationship with Luke. She even thinks, "But he is a good kisser." Haha!
     Darth Vader is written as being shocked when the hologram of the Emperor proclaims that Luke is the son of Anakin Skywalker. When we all know that Vader already knew this information courtesy of Boba Fett in the comic books. Ugh! Continuity, people!
     I still have a really hard time understanding the dark side cave scene on Dagobah. In this book's recounting, it ends with: "Yoda knew that it had been a test. And that Luke had failed." I'm still not quite sure how he failed since he took down Vader and everyone keeps telling him that he is supposed to take down Vader. So why was this a failure? I wish I understood.
     The bounty hunters called to Piett's Avenger are all named: Dengar, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM and of course Boba Fett (his blaster is an EE-3 rifle).
     Cloud City facts!
-16 kilometers in diameter
-36,000 repulsorlift engines
-"had a long central stalk that dropped down beneath it and ended in a unipod...[that]...used tractor beams to draw Tibanna gas up into the city's refineries."
     The torture seat that Han had to endure included "chemical injectors, microsurgical vibroscalpels, diagnostic scanners and an electroshock assembly." I forgot how utterly terrifying this scene actually was!
     So much more could have been done with the "I love you" - "I know" scene and the "I am your father" scene!!! Both of these were definitely lacking in my opinion as there was no real extra thought and emotion dug into. Ugh I was disappointed.
     During the Luke/Vader battle, there is a page of just Vader's thoughts and they are painfully awkward which was sad. But one good part was the following: "Go on. Activate your lightsaber. The blue blade still looks so pure. Do you know I'm familiar with that particular weapon? The very one you're holding? The one that Obi-Wan must have given you? No, I don't believe you know that. Not yet."
     After thinking Luke's voice was just a trick or part of her imagination, this happens to Leia: "But then an image formed in her mind, an image of Luke, injured and dangling from some kind of metal array at the bottom of Cloud City." So she actually saw a Force vision!
     Answers to trivia questions I've come across in contests...why am I helping future competition??:
- Admiral Ozzel gets Force-choked by Vader.
- Hobbie had trained with Wedge at the Imperial Skystrike Academy before defecting together.
- Evacuation code signal "K-1-0" was given at Hoth.
-Odds of maneuvering through an asteroid field? 3,720:1
     So...hmmm...while I really enjoyed this book for taking me back to the greatness of this movie, it did not take advantage of its format to dig deeper and explore emotions, feelings, and thoughts to the degree it could have. And it didn't connect at all to the loads of canon out there that takes place between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. So, it was worth the read but was not a stand out.


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