Star Wars: The Last Jedi was the first film-to-novel adaptation in the Star Wars saga that I greatly enjoyed.
It was a quick and easy read–if you have seen the movie. If for some reason you have not seen the movie, this book might actually be a bit hard to follow. There is a big disconnect when transferring something from screen to print and vise versa. While you get the eloquent descriptions of the action written in the book, it is still very different than seeing those actions set in motion on the screen. While the descriptions are relatively vivid, they are not detailed enough to give face to the characters for one who may not have seen the movie. It doesn’t often reflect on how they look, although there is a lot with body and facial expression.
The Last Jedi novelization is extended to the movie (are all copies extended edition? I don’t see why they wouldn’t be). There are a number of “deleted scenes” that were wanted in the movie, but the movie is already the longest of the saga so far, and the extra bits had to be cut for the sake of time, but these scenes will likely be featured in the DVD/Blu-ray extras as well.
One of the things I enjoyed about this book was the feelings and the connections between the characters that can be expressed in the third person limited scope of this novel. One example is the connection between Finn and Rose. While their “side quest” feels pointless since it does not succeed, that is actually one of the elements that makes The Last Jedi unique–not every plan is going to work, and their plot line demonstrates this reality. During their quest to find a master codebreaker to get them aboard the massive star destroyer Supremacy to nullify the tracking beacon they use to find the Resistance, Finn and Rose seemingly do not like each other. We get a bit less of Finn and a bit more of Rose in the third person perspective. Rose complains internally (and externally as well) about how much Finn praises and has hope in Rey. As their journey progresses, we see the internal feelings begin to bloom as Rose finds herself attracted to Finn. We also get a lot of internal thoughts on her deceased sister, Paige, and aspect that we don’t really get to see as much in the movie, developing Rose as a character more so that the visual version did.
Then we have the main plot with Luke/Snoke/Kylo/Rey/Leia, those involved more closely to the Skywalkers and have larger involvement in the Skywalker plot line. While the movie version did a very interesting job of portraying the relationships between Snoke/Kylo and Rey/Kylo, the book was more interesting in that, once again, we get the third person limited perspective where we see inside the character’s heads as to their true feelings and thought processes. Snoke has slightly more information given through his way of thinking, Kylo’s actions are more sound through his reasoning behind them, and they whole Kylo/Rey (or ReyLo, if you will) has much more meaning behind the words on the page.
When comparing The Last Jedi to The Force Awakens, while I find Abrams to be a better director, I found that the main plot of The Last Jedi was more interesting and there were a number of opportunities for character development in the main plot that changes the perspective of the reader/viewer. Hardcore Star Wars fan that I am, when The Force Awakens came out, I did not have any favorite new canon character (Mara Jade is my personal favorite character and always will be, followed by Thrawn). But with The Last Jedi, the character Development of Kylo Ren has me very intrigued and has enlightened me with a third favorite Star Wars character. Within the novel, although it is shown in the movie as well, there is an exorbitant amount of internal conflict going on in the young man, and his struggles leave room for a lot of development. I also like how we get more of his past, and there is an anti-hero element to his own story. Being an anti-hero doesn’t mean he is evil, but rather he finds that he is doing the right thing in his own way, perceiving the ways of the Resistance as those that would be “bad” or “evil.” This potential for development, whether he has a change of heart, or in the end, wins (that would be interesting indeed), the space for development through the final installment leaves delight and intrigue for those who want to see something not so cliche.