The film Rogue One was a fantastic addition to the Star Wars Saga. It’s novelization adds a bit more depth to what we didn’t get to see in the movie.
I typically don’t read novelizations of films. I’ve pretty much only read those of the original trilogy and, now, Rogue One.
Typically, when a movie is made from a book, much of the story is abridged in order to fit within a given run time. But this Rogue One novel is mostly a novelization of the film. There’s only a bit more covered in the book that isn’t shown in the film. But in many ways, it touches on the very thing that we didn’t get enough of in the film: insights into each character.
Learning more about each of our main characters is reason enough to pick up this book. Through all of the conditions our Rogue crew finds themselves, we never quite understand how each of them takes it.
Bohdi is, perhaps, the bigger revelation from this book. We learn more about what it was like for him to march through the desert to try to find Saw Gerrera. He declares to himself “I gave up everything to come here. I’m here to help!” The lasting effects of Bor Gullet shook him through much of the film. After reading this book, it’s clear that Bohdi is really the emotional center of the crew.
Baze was most profoundly impacted by the loss of Jedha. He was deeply angry, though never lashed out in the ways that Jyn did. He remained thoughtful and rather compassionate – especially towards Jyn.
Ironically, we got the least amount of character development for Cassian and Jyn. With Jyn, we see an evolution of her mental self-image. Whereas she existed in a dark hole at the start of the film, the revelation from her father and her opportunity to save his good name brought her fears to the light. All we know about Cassian was also found in the film. We get to hear his doubts when faced with killing Galen Erso. He even thought about shooting Krennic. But we otherwise don’t get any more insight.
The book does give us some additional tidbits from certain scenes. Jyn has a short conversation with her inmate – Nail though nicknamed “Kennel” for all the parasites she carried – where they discussed if Jyn wanted a warning before she killed her. When Jyn arrives at Saw’s hideout, she asks one of his fighters if other members that she fought with were still around (they weren’t).
We learn more of the names of characters we don’t learn in the film. We learn rebel troopers names: Corporal Tonc (played by Jordan Stevens) who stayed with Bohdi on the ship while they created their spectical for the Imperials. Sefla, the trooper who went to go find the master switch but was killed just as he left the bunker.
What I would have liked was more insights into Saw Gerrera. Maybe a few more points about his history with the Rebel Alliance. Some kind of mention of Onderon or his sister would have been cool. Maybe some mention as to what Bor Gullet told him about Bohdi. But nope… got none of that.
Overall, this is a Good book. Unfortunately, it’s very hard for it to be great. It tells the fantastic story that is Rogue One, but doesn’t offer as much as the film. We get some additional context on each character’s motivations (great!), but don’t get much more story than what is present in the film. We don’t get any scenes that aren’t in the film. Some great scenes in the film – such as the final Vader scene – really gloss over something so visually impacting. So if you’re interested in this story, the film is still the best way to hear it told.