I am a recent convert to the world of audiobooks. My wife, Sara, has an Audible account which I have access to and so far this year I have plundered it when i’ve exhausted my podcast library.
The other day I asked if she had any spare credits. She did so of course I had to get The Last Jedi, written by Jason Fry and narrated by long time Star Wars audiobook narrator Mark Thompson.
First of all, it’s great. I love the writing. So far out of the recent novelisations it’s my favourite. Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of The Force Awakens was dire. Badly written and the additional material was lacklustre at best. I loved Alexander Freed’s Rogue One adaptation. Lucasfilm hired the best guy for the job after the stellar Battlefront: Twilight Company. He really got into the characters heads and motivations and his writing of battle scenarios was phenomenal. But The Last Jedi by Jason Fry just knocked it out of the park.
The prologue, a dream Luke is having about what his life would have been like had he not ventured off with Obi-Wan and handed the droids over to the Empire in A New Hope, where he lives the life of a moisture farmer, marrying Cammie (from the deleted scenes of ANH) and carrying on running the Lars Moisture Farm is a welcome surprise. Additional scenes between the Tico sisters before they are split up, carrying on from where Elizabeth Wein’s Cobalt Squadron finishes and expands Paige’s role in the evacuation of D’Quar. The inclusion of deleted scenes, such as Luke’s third lesson to Rey on Ahch-To is a welcome addition and of course the innermost thoughts and small tidbits of backstory that flesh out these film novelisations and makes us fans go nuts.
We get a minor history of the creation of the First Order, the Phoenix Rising from the ashes of the Empire, the grand plan of Emperor Palpatine. A tiny bit of Snoke’s backstory, aiding the rise of the First Order and their domination of the inhabited worlds in Wild Space. Luke deciding he has to leave with Rey only to find out she’s Force-Skyping with Ben Solo and a beautiful and incredibly emotional scene between Leia and Chewie in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit after the Resistance escapes Crait which had me hiding at the other side of the warehouse because I had tears running down my face.
Someone, get Jason Fry to write an original Star Wars novel (adult, I know he’s already written loads for kids and the recent cross-sections books).
What really excited me about this novel is that Rian Johnson was heavily involved, giving these additions a lot more credibility.
Marc Thompson absolutely blew me away with his narration. The character voices are pretty good, his Poe Dameron sounds amazingly like Oscar Isaac it’s scary and the inclusion of sound effects and John William’s music works well.
I do have a couple of tiny issues though. Firstly why does the audiobook only use music from the Prequel films? Not to say the music choices are bad, they fit the scenes perfectly, but the is a score for The Last Jedi, why not use that?
My second minor gripe is with Rose Tico. NOW I love the character in the film, Kelly Marie Tran was brilliant, I loved her interactions with Finn and DJ and her character arc was fantastic. I don’t know if it’s the way she was portrayed in the book or the way Marc Thompson portrayed her, she came across as quite catty, especially when Finn is talking about Rey, which is not how I would have ever pictured her in the film. I’ll find out when I get around to buying the book and reading it.
Overall an amazing novel, a brilliant novelisation and a really fantastic audiobook. Well worth a read or listen or both.