Publish date- July, 2015.
Publisher- Hardie Grant Egmont/Chirpy Bird.
(A Brief) Synopsis:
A retelling of the classic, the magnificent, the Star Wars film that really started it all. We delve into who the people behind the names are, having time to get to know and understand The Princess, The Scoundrel and The Farm Boy.
Thank you to Hardie Grant Egmont for this review copy!
Image Credit: Hardie Grant Egmont.
What I thought:
The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy really, really had me hooked. From the gorgeous design of the cover to when I saw Alexandra Bracken's post discussing the book that made me understand I was going to be reading something that was not just a retelling, of sorts, of a film I loved, but a book about the people behind the titles, about Leia behind a "princess" and Han behind a "scoundrel". I hadn't really considered what the book would be, but as soon as I read her post I couldn't wait to slide into the story.
It is geared towards a Middle Grade audience and I have to say I'd have enjoyed it more if it was YA or adult. Having Leia, Han and Luke toned in a way that didn't make them feel quite how they did in the film left me a little unhappy- besides the discussions on who they all are, all of them having issues with the titles they've been given or born into and wanting to find out who they are -beyond- those monikers, there were elements in each story that just didn't feel like they sat right with the one I already knew, especially with Han's part; he's my favourite character and perhaps I'm very sensitive to him, because of that, but the way it was gone over numerous times that he really did want to join the rebels, he really did care and felt hurt that Luke thought he only cared about money... I wasn't really into that. I got the feeling Han was trying to be painted as a good character, despite the less than typically heroic things he does, which felt unnecessary to me. I guess I don't feel like he cares about being seen as redeemable or redeemed.
The fact this was MG, apart from those elements where the characters thought and acted in ways that felt out of place, didn't really affect the storyline. It felt mostly true to the original (and death wasn't sacrificed) and was super enjoyable for me to read and get into the heads of the characters as they each had their part in the story. It's also not a classic "retelling", as I had believed it would be. We're not getting A New Hope retold, we're just spending time with specific characters for specific amounts of time and getting the story we may already know, but also extra bits about them and their history, their feelings and thoughts.
Starting with Leia, whose part was brilliance and gorgeous and my absolute favourite, the story begins at the beginning. Her part, sadly, is the shortest, but it's really just glory to behold and the ending... the ending was stunning, just with the wording and everything. I really loved the way Alexandra Bracken got us into Leia's head and dealt with her history and all the misconceptions and pressure, presumption and guilt Leia has thrust upon her, and the way we find out who Leia is behind Princess, Senator, Rebel... it was stunning.
Then we have Han, whose part I was... looking forward to. A lot. As I said earlier, I wasn't wholly happy with the way he was painted, but I still enjoyed his part and getting into that thought process and part of the story, which focuses on his meeting with Luke and the Death Star business.
Luke has never been a favourite character of mine. I find him pretty annoying and in general wasn't all that pumped for his part in this. It did feel like he was the youngest and that probably does fit with his character in the film, but it still meant I found him a little annoying. Although I have to say, I liked him more than I ever have before!
I did have my issues with this. I'd have enjoyed it more if it weren't really aligned with a particular age group, but I still enjoyed it splendidly. It's not a retelling, as such, but it isn't just the plot of A New Hope in book form. It's more than that, and it is so worth reading.