Three New Star Wars Novels for readers 8 to 12

SW 8-12Published by Disney

Published 22nd September 2015

Available as Hardback & E-book

Star Wars: A New Hope — The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — So You Want to Be a Jedi by Adam Gidwitz
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — Beware the Power of the Dark Side! by Tom Angleberger

Reviewed as a member of Netgalley.com

Genre – Sci-Fi, Film Tie-In

Publisher states these books are aimed at 8 to 12 year-olds.

Personally I don’t put an age on books, different children read at different levels. Publidhers have to give some idea to parents though and without the chance to skim through a book the age range the publisher suggests is often all a parent can go by.

The preview copy I have seen only gives the first three chapters of each of these stories.

None are new stories, they are retellings of the original three Star Wars motion pictures. All told in a new way but following the action of the movies.

What do these books offer?

Firstly I’ll remove my rose-tinted glasses. I saw Star Wars in 1977 aged 9. I had only recently started reading 2000AD and I was getting in to Doctor Who novelisations. Star Wars blew my mind, at the time it was ground breaking with the state of the art special effects. Now, even with the (unneeded) tweaks it looks dated to young audiences.

Yes I still marvel at those films. I’m able to watch much older films and see them as I would have seen them at the time. Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion techniques still amaze me. But not all 8 to 12 year-olds can do that.

It is surprising to many my age that there are large numbers of children in this age group that haven’t seen the original films or don’t watch them due to the above. In my opinion probably the main aim of these books is to make the original story relevant to a new audience.

The first book, Star Wars: A New Hope — The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy, starts with a third person account from Princess Leia’s viewpoint. The narrator lets us know the inner thoughts of the teenage Princess, she’s aged around 18 or 19 in the first film. The thoughts she has are those of a teenage girl who is facing up to her responsibilities. Unlike the film we see her doubts and misgivings, none of which spoil the story.

Given the title of this book I am assuming that later chapters may be from the perspective of Han and Luke, the first three chapters only dealt with Leia. However I’m not certain of this as there are new scenes in these three chapters that were not in the film, possibly to fill out the portions that deal with Luke meeting Han and travelling to rescue her.

The narration of the second book, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — So You Want to Be a Jedi, is very different. In this book the reader is Luke Skywalker and the narrator is a disembodied voice, I don’t think it is Obi Wan, speaking directly to the reader. In the second chapter the narrator switches to third person from the point of view of Han, switching again to speaking directly to the reader – Luke Skywalker.

At the end of each chapter are short lessons on meditation for a Jedi. These are also directed towards the reader and are quirky and humourous.

The third novel, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi — Beware the Power of the Dark Side!, starts with the Droids on Tatooine travelling to meet Jabba. Again the narrator addesses the reader directly but this time the reader is merely an observer to what transpires. Interestingly the second chapter deals with explaining who Jabba is rather than showing the reader and normal narrative recommences in chapter three again from the perspective of the Droids.

There are footnotes throughout the chapters giving asides, little tidbits of information to clarify the situation. These have more of a hint of opinion from the narrator rather than appearing to be straightforward fact.

Three novels with three different approaches. I can’t be certain that all the readers will enjoy them all. As a child I would have preferred ‘The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy‘ over ‘So You Want to Be a Jedi‘. Though I might buck the trend and it could be that the first book is more popular with girls. As with Ages I don’t think books should necessarily be considered gender specific but sometimes they are aimed more towards one gender than another. It is a case that some boys simply don’t like reading things from a girl’s perspective and the second book really does read as though aimed at boys. The third novel redresses the balance, and not simply because it is dealing with Robots and Aliens.

I think that children of both genders will enjoy each book, despite my minor misgivings stated above. Each reader is different though and that is why I’ve stated those opinions.

I think these books are a great idea.

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