Star Wars: A New Hope Junior Novel (Star Wars Junior Novel 1) Paperback – 4 May 2017
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This affectionate novelisation of the first film and fourth in the story saga runs very close to the updated version of the film- that is with the remastered and digital scenes added such as Han interacting with Jabba in Mos Eisley. However the 'who shot first' debate (Team Hans here as I grew up on the original trilogy) is sidestepped to narrate that they both shot simultaneously to concur with the later edits and make Hans appear less of a bad guy from the off.
What is interesting and occasionally jarring though is the contextualisation of the prequels and extended universe narratives within the storytelling. We have an added aside in the opening scenes where Darth Vader looks moodily over the planet of Tatooine remembering his life there and how there is nothing but dust there for him- this of course references to events of the prequels which readers may have already tackled whether movies or novels but honestly it comes across a bit 'emo' and in that line foreshadowing of his grandson Kylo Ren!
There are other asides added throughout the novel to contextualise the plot in the grander narrative which are missing in the movies but helps if starting fresh as prior nor in-depth knowledge is not assumed.
The writing itself is an easy read for adult fans (let's be honest adults will read this too) and the language is pitched to be comfortable but slight challenge to the young reader, confident 6-7 year olds may be able to tackle this reading with/to an adult to help explain and discuss the plot though most will be able to tackle this from age 9 or so as independent reading with the odd explanation here or there.
There's lots of description to enrich the narrative and help immerse the reader in the story-world but not so much that it derails the plot which itself moves at a quick but comfortable pace to retain interest.
Overall if you are a fan or know a young fan these are an excellent way to encourage reading with a topic close to their heart, updated to include the plot of the prequels and rogue one are a lovely addition to any bookshelf.
Ryder Windham has written dozens of books of films, predominently Star Wars ones, and this follows the usual vein. It's the first Star Wars film many middle-aged adults will remember from the first time around that's been rendered in the form of a novel that's safe and accessible for children to read - but which will equally appeal to adults. Comes as a trilogy together The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (books 2 and 3), which would make a nice gift for Star Wars fans. However, be aware that this the book is printed on low quality rough off-white paper with no illustrations.
=== THINGS I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK ===
* All the familiar Star Wars characters and plot from the first film retold in novel form, straight from the screen
* Striking black cover with silver foil details and bright blue star
* An additional styling detail is the edge of the paper is in a bright blue colour
* Clear font in an age-appropriate font size and line spacing for primary school children, with 27 lines of text per page
* The 15 chapters (plus prologue and epilogue) are a manageable length for many younger reader to complete in one go (averaging 12-14 pages); many children will be able to complete more than one chapter at a time or even complete the book in a couple of sittings
* The book is equally appealing to both children and adults
=== NIGGLES ===
* No illustrations, which is unusual in a book based at this age range (8+)
* The writing style is somewhat factual and descriptive, as if it's a description of what appears on screen in the film itself, which is good as far as it goes but feels somewhat lacking in emotional content and engagement
* Printed on that rough off-white matte paper that's common for novels aimed at children that won't take spills or wear and tear from grubby little hands)
For sale at the time of writing this review at £3.85 (RRP £6.99).
This features all of the characters beloved by fans of the series – Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. It features a tale of good against evil, of rebel spaceships fighting against the Galactic Empire and of Princess Leia fleeing with stolen plans of the Empire’s ultimate weapon. The story is simplistically told (as befits the age group it is aimed at), and based on the screenplay, but the author has taken pains to tell the story well and is not just a basic re-hashing of the film. There are further books in this series, but this is an excellent place to start and will appeal to reluctant readers as well as fans of the films.
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A perfect Star Wars story...Read more