A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am working my way through reading all of the Legends Timeline of books. The movies, and their spin offs, make up the link between the old and new Expanded Universe timelines. Although this book, and the two others in the series, were written after the EU split, I figured since it was based off of the movie that it would be OK to listen to it here.
This book is the first in a series of young adult adaptions of the original trilogy. It is hands down the best of the series also. I'm first going to start with the author's note at the end of the book. In that note the author mentioned how much her father loved the Star Wars movies and that he had recently passed away, and despite it being fiction, she argued that the true power of the Force was its ability to bring people together through shared experiences. The note brought tears to my eyes.
The story itself is told in three parts, each part from the perspective of one of the main characters: first Leia the princess, the Han the scoundrel, and lastly Luke the farm boy. I was amazed at how well the original, familiar tale fit this literary device. For the Leia part there was a lot of embellishment and backstory to her part of the tale. Having said that, a lot of it seems to have been inspired by cut parts of the original script and Brian Daley's NPR Radio Drama Adaptation. Overall, Leia's part at the beginning was probably the shortest section, but it was enriched by having a unique perspective and lots of new details*(see footnote). The middle part, told from Han's perspective, was slightly awkward in how it addressed the introduction of Obi-Wan. It also also ended up having to rely on flashback of other characters to tell parts of the story where the party split up on the Death Star, like Luke and Leia's famous grappling hook swing across the chasm. Luke's perspective was about what you would expect, a good mix of enthusiasm and self-doubt. Like Daley's version, Luke's section also included the cut scene of him training or trying out to fly with the Rebel's. Telling the story from one person's viewpoint at a time worked very well overall, it was also very nice to have the tale told from the first, person perspective unlike before. The biggest loss in this method is the view of things from the Imperial side and the side adventures of the droids. None-the-less, these losses are more than made up for by the joy brought from the unique person perspectives of the books and the details added to the storyline. As I am typing this after having completed my read-through of the Legends EU Timeline I can say that this book stands out, hands-down as the best young adult book I read and one of the best movie adaptations books as well.
* Footnote: I couldn't find a way to integrate this thought into the narrative above, and I am always concerned about how it may sound, because I don't want it to sound sexist, but I think it helped Leia's character a immensely to be told by a female author. It just seemed to fit better than any other attempt to tell this old, familiar tale have done.
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