Star Wars: A New Hope (junior reader) by Ryder Windham

     Star Wars: A New Hope by Ryder Windham is a junior reader released in celebration of Star Wars' 40th anniversary. The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi were also part of this collection. I enjoy reading novelizations of the movies, even junior readers, because they provide insight that cannot be gained from watching just a movie - thoughts, feelings, emotions, and even deleted scenes can make their way onto the page. Overall, I very much liked this novelization.

      I appreciated its few connections with other canon:
- "The Tantive IV was trapped like a small fish in a sando aqua monster's belly."
- "After the battle of Scarif, in which the plans for the Death Star had been stolen, Bail Organa had returned home to tell his people that war was coming...but his warning would come too late."

     We get names and identifiers galore!! All the Rebels and Imperials involved were named, thus deepening the reality of the story. When R2-D2 and C-3P0 are in the Jawa's sandcrawler, we even get names and descriptions of several of the occupying droids: RA-7 servant droid, a binocular eyed multi-armed Treadwell droid, CZ secretary droid, "a dome-bodied armored LIN mining droid hug[ing] the ground," a hulking R1 reactor drone. This aspect of the book was definitely pleasing as I love being able to identify characters by name!

     I was hoping I would come across some insight into the droids being back on the Lars homestead and this book didn't disappoint:
- "From the astromech's perspective, the place hadn't changed much, but he refused to let old memories distract him from his current mission. As for the protocol droid, his memory was not what it had once been." Poor C-3P0 and his memory wipes!
- "Owen stepped past the Treadwell, then stopped to face the golden protocol droid. An almost identical droid had served on the Lars family farm a few decades back, so Owen recognized the model. If Owen had a curious nature or dwelled on the past, he might have wondered if he were looking at the same droid, but on this day, which followed many hard days, his only interest in droids was whether they would be useful to him on the farm." A very good point about Owen's personality.

     Several fun-fact tidbits:
- We get a detailed description of the interrogator droid used on Leia. It contained an electroshock assembly, sonic torture device, chemical syringe, and lie determinator. Yikes!!
- Garindan, the Imperial spy with the prehensile trunk is of the Kubaz species.
- Several pieces on the Dejarik board are named: "Mantellian savrip - a hunched-over creature with a snake-like neck and long, powerful arms," "Kintan strider - a yellow-skinned biped that carried a club," "a multi-legged blue houjix."
- After Han declares the Millenium Falcon made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs, the narrative goes on to say, "Ben was not impressed with what he heard as obvious misinformation, and gave Han a look that said so." Haha! Even Ben knew parsecs measured distance and not time.
- Dianogas are apparently omnivorous, have seven-tentacles, and the one in the trash compactor ended up there on accident!
- The reward Han received was precious metals not money. Interesting.

     Several scenes that always left me questioning got more fleshed out:
- You know that part in the movie where Ben, Luke, and the droids are on their way to Mos Eisley and they stop on the plateau to look over the city? I've always thought it curious they stopped. Well this book provides that Luke was incredibly distracted by all that he had witnessed and strayed off course three times. This finally led to Ben suggesting they park and pause for a moment. Makes much more sense now.
- When arriving in Mos Eisley, this book makes very clear that Luke is overwhelmed with all the alien species that he sees. I guess he didn't get away from the moisture farm very much. I found this intriguing as I never gathered he was that surprised by seeing aliens. Guess I was wrong.
- The scene between Greedo and Han is described in great detail but the actual moment of shooting is obscured. So this book sneakily goes around the issue of who shot first, but makes the aftermath very clear. Apparently, Han shot up through the table and left a smoldering hole in the object. His shot even managed to blow up Greedo's blaster! I never caught that outcome in the movie.    
- I always wondered where Ben and Luke got the targeting remote from! "Ben had rightly assumed that Han kept a remote on board for quick-draw target practice." Gotcha.
- And why didn't the stormtroopers react when a large banging sound came from the Millennium Falcon after the scanning crew went inside? "Both stormtroopers assumed the scanning crew had dropped the large box." I can believe that, although I'd be making fun of their clumsiness if I was one of the sentries outside the loading ramp.

     We get a great description of Luke's interaction with the Force after Obi-Wan's disembodied voice tells him to put away the targeting computer and trust the Force:
     "Suddenly time seemed to slow down. Luke felt not as if he were racing through the Death Star's trench at full throttle, but rather that the trench was flowing past and around him. He was aware of the pursuing TIE fighters and the weapon-laden trench walls, but he no longer felt threatened by them. He was in control, and he was not afraid.
     Darth Vader sensed the change that swept over the pilot in the remaining X-wing."

     There is one additional scene where Vader regains control of his spinning TIE-fighter and contemplates events:
     "Before Vader had been knocked out of the trench, he'd recognized the Corellian freighter as the same ship that had delivered Ben Kenobi to the Death Star, reportedly from Tatooine. Vader wondered why Kenobi had been on Tatooine, and how long he'd been there.
     Then Vader thought of the last X-wing pilot in the trench. He was so strong with the Force.
     Vader wouldn't rest until he learned the truth." I love the idea of Vader making connections between Obi-Wan and Tatooine. He had to have sensed something was up!

     There were definitely missed opportunities in this novelization to dig deeper with thoughts, feelings, emotions, and connections. One place that really missed the mark was when Obi-Wan sees Darth Vader in all his glory for the first time. I am assuming that Obi-Wan never saw Anakin in his black suit and I would think his reaction would be immense, but here he hardly reacted at all.

     A fun read packed with many fascinating extras, this was a worthy novelization of A New Hope. I would recommend it to adults and junior readers alike. I'm looking forward to seeing how The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi junior novelizations stack up!


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