Solo: A Star Wars Story: A Junior Novel by Joe Schreiber
Solo: A Star Wars Story: A Junior Novel written by Joe Schreiber
There was so much about this junior novelization to absolutely love! It was very well-written and therefore a joy to read. Parts that weren't explored in Mur Lafferty's Solo: Expanded Edition (adult novelization) were explored here and other parts were explored in Lafferty's book but not this one. I have to say, to get the fullest picture possible, you really need to read both!
A couple of things to note about this version: 1) Chewie's dialogue is translated directly into Basic. The narrative usually says something like "he emitted a low growl" or "he roared angrily" and then immediately gives us the direct translation. While I thought this was a bit weird at first, it grew on me and I thought it was kinda neat to know what Chewie was actually saying instead of having to interpret it. 2) Some of the more gruesome parts are skimmed over in acknowledgement this book is for younger readers, so rest assured that the most disturbing parts of the film are left to the imagination. For instance, we don't actually see Chewie rip off the sentinel's arms in the elevator on Kessel and we don't see the skin being ripped off the summa-verminoth as it gets sucked into the Maw.
We start off right as Han is stealing the speeder and then launch into him escaping into the White Worm's Den. Apparently he ran into a couple of scrumrats on his way in--Cosdra and LeKelf--but they don't rat him out to anyone so he's able to make his way safely to Qi'ra. A few other scrumrats are mentioned: Hallon and Tunnel Toli (young thieves), Bansee (a girl talented in inflicting damage with her "rat hammer"), and Chates (a boy whose father was murdered in a mugging). Even Tsuulo from Most Wanted gets a nod for being the one to get the power working in the den!! I loved that friendly and loyal Rodian!
Beckett's introduction is wonderful: "Off to the left, through the clouds of smoke, he caught sight of a uniformed figure standing upright, silhouetted boldly against the laser fire and bloodshed erupting behind him, twirling blasters in each hand as he fired almost casually at the enemy." Such a perfect translation of that movie image into narrative form! Note: This book leaves out Korso and only includes Rio and Val in Beckett's group.
Then in a thought, Han sums up the Empire like this: "It was that unique brand of chaos the Empire specialized in, a barely organized effort to instill terror, with a thin layer of bureaucracy painted over it. Nobody seemed to know where they were going or why." This absolutely defines the way they seemed to be acting on Mimban...so disorganized but still with one ultimate terrorizing goal.
We get Chewbacca's story leading up to his capture and imprisonment on Mimban. He apparently had escaped the fate of being exploited for slavery only to be turned in by a "back-stabbing Kowakian monkey-lizard"...now I don't know if it was an actual Kowakian monkey-lizard or if this is just being used as a derogatory term. From the book The Legends of Luke Skywalker, it appears that Kowakian monkey-lizards are at least sorta sentient so who knows... Then, when he was on a prison train on Kethmandi, he could have escaped but sacrificed his chance by saving a fellow prisoner--so Chewie of him *smile*. His predicament is heartbreaking and is put like this: "Most of the time, he simply wanted to rip things to pieces. It was the only way to numb the pain." Poor Chewie!
There's a funny little bit around the campfire on Vandor when Han attempts to twirl his blaster to no avail...Beckett's sarcastic response when he catches Han in the act, "Total pro." Haha.
At the beginning of the train heist, we get this great thought from Han, "He was in the company of experts, operating at the peak of their skills, and he was getting an invaluable education while he helped steal a fortune." I love seeing that Han is thinking through his experiences and what they are going to teach him. Shows that he's at least aware of what's going on around him...
Okay, so I'm pretty sure this is a nod to Attack of the Clones and I thought it was pretty darn funny: Qi'ra says, "You look good. A little rough around the edges, maybe, but good." Han then says, "You too. Not rough, I mean, but..." "What?" Qi'ra asks. "Smooth." Haha!! I really hope this was a purposeful reference to Anakin's hatred for sand!
There's a brief instance where Qi'ra is surprised by Han's last name of Solo. She mouths that she likes the name. I thought this was a cute little addition.
Dryden says, "Very cooperative people, the Savarians." And after watching the whole movie, we know exactly what he means by cooperative! Simply awful. I'm super happy that Enfys Nest and her Cloudriders end up kicking Crimson Dawn's butt for all the pain and hardship they put the Savarians through!
The description of the Akkadese Maelstrom is wonderful! "Roiling multilayered gas clouds, swollen and bulbous, flickered with lightning deep within, like enormous semitranslucent brains troubled by dark thoughts." Even if I hadn't seen the movie, this would have evoked a startlingly vivid image.
Once Han and Chewie have infiltrated the Kessel mines, they come across a large beast twice. I can't really get a handle on this beast, but it sounds enormous and has what seems to be a drill attached to its head. It also moves quite slowly but is strong enough to drill through the mine walls. So I don't know if this creature naturally has a drill on its head and runs wild or if it's a beast of burden conscripted to help drill new holes in the walls for the Pykes. Very interesting...
We get way more on the summa-verminoth and its twisted love affair with the Maw. Apparently it was insanely attracted to the beauty of the Maw and was even led there by a siren song. Han and crew awaken the creature from a long sleep of escaping her torment over not being able to become one with the Maw. And when the escape pod plunges into the blackhole, the summa-verminoth is beyond happy to finally be joining the Maw for eternity. I found this part a bit creepy but it was definitely interesting to read and added a whole other layer to the giant beast.
And finally we get to the Enfys Nest reveal!! "Her face was luminous and almost angelic, but beneath it lay a deep sense of fatigue, a terrible heaviness, as if she'd seen and done far more than anyone her age ever should have endured." She is absolutely all of these things!!! I love her so much.
There's some interesting extra dialogue from Beckett when he enters Dryden's study after Han is revealed to have betrayed Dryden. "Enfys took everything I cared about. I'm not giving her anything. And Dryden's my friend. I wouldn't betray him!" I don't know how I feel about this extra dialogue. It makes me understand more his position about Enfys for sure, but the bit about Dryden just seems forced...especially since Beckett ends up turning on Dryden in the end anyway...
In a nod to just how twisted Dryden and Qi'ra's relationship is, we get this from Han's thoughts after Dryden has been impaled by Qi'ra, "Dryden's eyes widened, fixing on Qi'ra with shock...and something else, too, Han realized. Something like love." Yikes!
I don't remember this bit of dialogue from Maul and it speaks to the power Qi'ra has gained by dispatching Dryden, "For now, you will assume control over all of Dryden's territories and interests." Qi'ra's response is almost like that of a child who is thankful to have made her parents proud, "I appreciate your faith in me. I won't disappoint you." Little does she know what she has gotten herself into!
Question...who are the Five Syndicates?? We know Crimson Dawn is one of them and there's also the Crymorah and the Wandering Star (found in Scum and Villainy). Who are the other two? And another question...does Maul only run Crimson Dawn or is he perhaps in charge of all 5? I'm totally curious about all this!
Lastly, I am super confused on the math of the coaxium vials. At the beginning of the story, Han says one vial is worth 600-700 credits, then he says 900, but according to the adult novelization he was going to sell 7 vials for 41,000 credits which would put them at 5,000+ credits a piece. And then at the end of the story, Han says the vial he has would make a decent buy in to the Sabaac game at about 10,000 credits. None of these numbers add up!!! Oh well...
-Chewie's father's name is Attichitcuk.
-The little guy in the fluid-filled container singing the bass notes on Dyrden's yacht is a Gallusian.
-Nyork chowder is a food.
-The older Wookiee who helps our heroes load the coaxium on Kessel is Sagwa.
-Beckett's ridiculous answers to Han's question of if the TIEs were still on them in the Maelstrom were the following: "Like rashnold on a kylak." and "Like a ghingerson's pelt."
-Savareen is famous for its brandy.
-The weapons attendant on Dryden's yacht is named Toht.
-This book names the Tognath marauder as Benthic and not Edrio.
So overall, I enjoyed this one very much!! It was engaging and fun and added depth in a number of spots. I loved that it ever so briefly connected to Most Wanted, too. There wasn't much on L3-37's integration with the Falcon which was something covered very heavily in the adult novelization, but that whole situation is super sad and upsetting so maybe it was best they left it out of the junior novelization. I absolutely recommend this to younger readers who want a quick and enjoyable read to deepen their experience with the Solo movie. And as stated at the beginning of this post, I also recommend it to older readers who want the fullest vision possible of everything that went down in the story. The two novelizations definitely complement each other and I am so glad I read both!