How many versions of the same story are enough? You’ve seen the movie, read the official novelization, listened to the audiobook version of that novelization, are looking forward to the Marvel comic book adaptation, and now you can also grab Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A Junior Novel from Lucasfilm Publishing and Disney Books.
To add another level of redundancy, I listened to the audiobook release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A Junior Novel by Michael Kogge (Star Wars: The Last Jedi – A Junior Novel), and I spent most of the six-plus hours wondering what was different enough about this take on Episode IX to differentiate it from author Rae Carson’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – Expanded Edition, which came out in March and already broadened the story presented in the film by adding back in a few deleted scenes and giving us more insight into the minds of the characters.
Tomorrow we get *another* Rise of Skywalker novelization, written by the incomparable @michaelkogge. We hung out & shared notes, & I can attest that WE DID NOT WRITE THE SAME BOOK. If you want yet more details, more insights, give this junior novel a try. https://t.co/FDs2T9gapo
— Rae Carson (@raecarson) April 20, 2020
I suppose the “Junior Novel” version of The Rise of Skywalker contains ever-so-slightly simplified language to make it a tiny bit more accessible to younger readers, but to be honest I didn’t notice too much of a difference in that department. The audiobook does happen to be about three and a half hours shorter than the adult release, so that’s something. I also noticed that Kogge had the benefit of using Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – The Visual Dictionary as a resource, as he tends to reference very specific item names and details that hadn’t been revealed until that book by Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo had been released.
Additionally, Kogge does a good job of setting The Rise of Skywalker in the context of the larger Star Wars franchise. He opens and ends the book with a poetic recap of the entire Skywalker Saga that had come before, from Anakin’s rise and fall in the prequel trilogy to Luke’s adventures in the original trilogy to Rey’s awakening in the sequels. This wraps up the long-running epic with a nice bow, even if its final chapter wasn’t the most well-received entry in the bunch. And other than that, this Junior Novel is effectively more of the same. It might serve as a good jumping-off point to get budding Young Adult readers into the ever-expanding Star Wars publishing world, just in time to prep them to take on Lucasfilm’s highly anticipated The High Republic initiative coming later this year, but outside of that it remains just another retelling of a familiar tale.
The circle is now complete.
— Michael Kogge (@michaelkogge) April 21, 2020
The audiobook of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A Junior Novel is read by writer and actress Jessica Almasy, who previously contributed her vocal talents to the audiobook for Star Wars: Spark of the Resistance. Almasy delivers Kogge’s prose clearly and with an attention-holding enthusiasm, though she doesn’t quite have the impressionistic range of fellow narrator Marc Thompson. And the production team still puts in the effort here to include sound effects, music, and voice filters when appropriate. It’s just kind of a shame that the effort as a whole feels a little superfluous, as I can’t see much of a reason why anyone interested in this book, regardless of age, wouldn’t just pick up the slightly longer Expanded Edition.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – A Junior Novel is available now wherever books are sold.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.