Book Review: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," by Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey)
It is no wonder that Alan Dean Foster's novelization of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" jumped to No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List in less than a week. And it isn't simply that the movie itself is a hit; the book is simply riveting.
Foster is a master at vivid visual imagery, at capturing dramatic suspense in fast-action scenes, and at portraying accurate nuances of character and tone. Critic Elizabeth Hand of the Washington Post calls it "fast-moving, atmospheric and raises goose bumps at just the right moments." In short, Foster is able to depict in words as compelling a story as the high-budget movie itself - a major feat, indeed. Of course, that is why they chose him to do the job.
Something Foster does in the book is to add several scenes and further information that helps to enrich the story and to bring greater understanding - though going into the specifics of these things would be too much of a spoiler-alert. It can be said that the book smooths over some of the rough edges of the film. Foster is also more able than the movie to delve deeply into the emotional lives of the characters so that we, in turn, care more deeply about what happens to them in the book and in the movie. And a heck of a lot happens to them! Because Foster gives us more information and hints about the characters' back-stories, we are better able to make sense of the big-picture as a whole.
Foster is the author of earlier best-selling "Star Wars" novel versions, of the first three "Alien" novel versions, as well as of "Alien Nation," "The Chronicles of Riddick," "Star Trek," "Terminator: Salvation" and both "Transformers" film versions. His own novel, "Cyber Way," won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first work of science-fiction ever to do so. He is the recipient of the Faust, the IAMTW Lifetime achievement award. His work has been translated into 50 languages.
Don't miss the chance to hear Alan Dean Foster talk, ask him questions and get answers at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at the Peregrine Book Company.
Reviewed by Susan Lang, Peregrine Book Company event coordinator