As we quickly pass through the remaining days until the next Star Wars film, The Last Jedi, hits theaters nationwide, merchandise begins to ramp up across the country with a whole slew of new books, actions figures, and more from Lucasfilm and their partners. One of the latest books to hit store shelves across the nation in preparation for The Last Jedi is an all-new book from Disney/Lucasfilm and DK Publishing, titled Star Wars Made Easy, written by Chris Blauvelt. The purpose of Star Wars Made Easy is to introduce new fans to the franchise and bring them up to speed in time for The Last Jedi in December. Often at times, it’s essentially the officially-licensed version of a Cliffs Notes on Star Wars and simplifies the world of Star Wars for anyone looking to familiarize themselves with the franchise, but become overwhelmed by the vast size of the Star Wars universe.
Perhaps this presents a double edge sword for some Star Wars fans. The Lucas-created universe is such an intricate tale full of complexity, so how could one attempt to simplify the franchise’s deep moral stories and symbolism? Fear not, however — Star Wars Made Easy stays truthful to the franchise, even if it probably simplifies the franchises’ deep symbolism and storytelling morals. Stories of intolerance, injustice, and fear are simply summed up by “these are the bad guys,” when in truth, the world of Star Wars is far more complex. Characters are hardly defined as “good” nor “evil” but their actions are driven by the deep complexity that they believe is the moral truth and the right actions. Rogue One especially explores this idea, that there are people whose beliefs define their actions, and sometimes even some of the “good guy” rebels may commit actions worthy of a Sith for what they believe is “the common good.” In the Star Wars universe, no one is neither “good” nor “bad,” most people are somewhere in-between.
But it’s understandable that a book introducing fans to the franchise would dive deep into this complexity and the moral messages surrounding the series, which would probably overwhelm most new fans. It presents a quick, easy-to-understand approach to the franchise. What’s the name of the little green Muppet on that swamp planet again? Why do the Star Wars movies start out of order? The bad guys carry around red light-stick weapons? Okay got it.
What’s perhaps most interesting about this book is the amount of surprising things that were approved for publication by Disney. It’s always interesting when Lucasfilm decides to weigh in on fan controversies, and there’s certainly a nice amount of that here in this book. The book dedicates two pages to the “Jar Jar Binks” controversy discussing probably one of the most infamous and disliked character in cinematic history, with a section titled “Is It Okay For Me to Like Jar-Jar?” There’s a page explaining the ‘Who Shot First?’ controversy and the sides that surround it as well. It’s funny to see this coming specifically from Disney, considering we know their bias on the topic, but it is interesting to see how they approach these topics. They also make use of explaining why the franchise is made out of order, and suggests several ways to watch the movies in order, including starting from the original 1977 Star Wars film and moving forward to the entire saga, specifically so that the surprise in The Empire Strikes Back is not ruined by watching from The Phantom Menace onward.
What’s odd is that although it’s brand new to the shelves, the book is also already outdated, since the publication still has Colin Trevorrow listed as the director of the yet-to-be-released Star Wars: Episode IX. Last month, Trevorrow was removed from the project and was replaced by The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who will now write and direct the third installment of the trilogy that he helped launch. This outdated information is hardly the fault of the author and is caused by continuous backstage drama at Lucasfilm, but it is interesting to see how even at this point, so much can change between now and the release of The Last Jedi.
Star Wars Made Easy is a great book for those friends that you’ve been trying to convince to get into the series, but get lost by the time you start trying to explain everything about the series. It may oversimplify some things, or even inflame some controversies, but it does a good job at presenting the stories and the controversies in the Star Wars universe for someone who’s looking to be brought up to speed. It’s difficult to recapture the magic and brilliance of Star Wars in an oversimplified format, but this book does it creatively and in the spirit of the franchise that makes it the perfect companion for anyone looking to be introduced to the series for the first time.
Star Wars Made Easy is now available to purchase online.
Editor’s note: This review by Mitchell looking at the book Star Wars Made Easy is one of two takes currently featured on Laughing Place. To read Bill’s thoughts on the book, click here.
Mitchell Stein is the founder and operator of the Disney-fan based website The Mickey Mindset which is a leader in delivering Disney news, articles and opinions across the company. He can be contacted by following him on Twitter @MitchellStein1.