It’s easy to dismiss movie novelizations as sub-par literature. They’re different from pre-existing books that are then adapted to film; they’re not always the best-written books, and they often come across as little more than a cash grab — i.e. you liked the movie, so you better buy this book, too! However, there are exceptions to every rule, and one of those exceptions is the novelization for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Written by Alexander Freed, the adaptation actually deepens the story found in the movie, which is about a daring band of Rebels who steal the plans for the evil Empire’s planet-destroying super- weapon, the Death Star. While both the book and movie work on the surface level as blockbuster entertainment, the story actually has a message that’s timely and culturally relevant. Its themes of hope, forgiveness and making sacrifices for a cause you believe in apply beyond a certain galaxy long, long ago and far, far away. The story’s heart and soul is Jyn Erso, a young woman with a complicated past and no great love for the Empire or the Rebels who oppose them. She resents the absence of her father, a scientist who is currently working on the Empire’s Death Star project. She becomes a reluctant recruit to the Rebellion when several agents break her out of the Imperial labor camp she’s imprisoned in and enlist her help in their mission to learn more about the Death Star — including a weakness her father may have built into the system to allow the Rebels to eventually destroy it.
Along the way, she’ll have to confront both her bitterness toward her father and her indifference to the state of the galaxy. She’ll also have to decide just how much she’s willing to risk to do the right thing.
“Rogue One” is actually a change of pace for the famous Star Wars franchise, giving us a plot that’s often more of a gritty war story than a space opera. It certainly isn’t as black and white as the original trilogy, and the Rebels aren’t always blameless heroes.
The novelization retains the gritty aspects of the film but dives further into the characters’ minds; we get to read what they were thinking and feeling at key points in the story, and this deepens the narrative. Freed is able to give us a better appreciation for these characters and their struggles. A character that particularly benefits from being fleshed out is Rebel intelligence officer Cassian Andor. Cassian arguably makes the most moral compromises out of all the characters in the story; although he fights for the “good side,” he admits that he’s done terrible things for the cause and he struggles with this guilt. It’s a moral dilemma that rings true in these modern times, as we debate what is and isn’t ethical in the context of war.
Although “Rogue One” takes place in a galaxy far, far away, the story is one that applies to current issues. The book’s tragic ending feels authentic — we know real life doesn’t always come with a happily ever after. At the same time, the story’s predominant theme of hope doesn’t feel trite.
The characters are relatable because none of them are socalled “chosen ones” with special powers who are destined to save the galaxy.
They’re just ordinary people who often make mistakes but ultimately decide to do the right thing, in spite of the risks.
They must let go of past grievances and find forgiveness, and they must cling to hope, even when all seems lost. They learn to put the good of others before their own interests.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” isn’t just a good book for Star Wars fans; it’s a thought-provoking, thrilling and emotionally- resonant adventure.
Ashley Pauls is the communications coordinator at the K-State Alumni Association.