Rebel Rising

Disney Lucasfilm Publishing has been on a roll with their young adult “YA” Star Wars books. Lost Stars garnered a lot of attention with it’s Forrest Gump approach of traipsing across the familiar time span of the original trilogy films. Rebel Rising takes a different approach as it fills in the gap between Jyn Erso’s abandonment on Lah’mu as an eight year old child and her eventual prison break from Wobani Labor camp as she’s capture/freed by the Rebellion. Both of those key moments were seen on Rogue One, but the events that happened between there were only hinted at or ignored. Viewers knew she was somehow trained by Saw, that he left her on a planet with nothing more than a blaster, and that the twists of Jyn’s life left her with a reluctance to work for the Rebellion. While the novelization of Rogue One touched on some of that, Rebel Rising does the real work of bringing that story to life. In this book, Beth Revis not only answers those questions raised by the film, but provides a engrossing look at how Jyn’s psyche developed. We see her development as a fledgling freedom fighter looking for acceptance from the only caretaker she has left in her life. We see her struggles and downturns as both the Empire and the Rebellion destroy the scraps of hope she has left. In the end, Rebel Rising shows us just who Jyn was and who she has become. In essence, it’s the perfect book for those looking to learn more about her character.

At 410 pages, you might be wondering just how much this book is able to cover in regards to Jyn’s life. The answer is quite a lot. It opens on the Imperial labor planet of Wobani, which is seen in Rogue One. This setting serves as a reference point throughout the book as we catch glimpses of her life in the labor camp in between handfuls of chapters detailing the rest of her life. Each break reminds us of where we find her in the film and it provides focal point of reflection for the other events that happen in the book. For instance, following the opening on Wobani, the first chapter of the book picks up where Jyn is hiding on Lah’mu and waiting for Saw to find her. Rathern than breaking off again, the story shows readers what happened. We see Saw rescuing her, taking her off world, and showing her his place of refuge on a planet called Wrea. We see Saw raising her and teaching her how to fight the Empire. The story eventually jumps ahead several chapters later, showing Jyn at age 14, introducing her to missions and showing what Saw’s group does. From 15 to 16 to 18 and into her twenties, the book covers Jyn’s life with just enough detail and just enough of the important moments as to provide readers with a full view of what she was and what she became.

The prose is good and Beth Revis does a great job spinning an entertaining story. There’s tantalizing details and moments strewn throughout the book that keep it interesting. The pacing is well done with bits of action thrown in here and there, interspersed with drama and joy. Jyn’s life isn’t all hardships and sadness. It’s a mix of the good and the bad which makes each so much more poignant. For those who did not feel they got enough out of Jyn’s character in Rogue One, this book goes a long way in fully fleshing out her character and her backstory. It shows off both the complexities of her character as well as the emotional evolution of mental state. Plus it sheds more light on Saw and his relationship with Jyn. By reading this story, it takes the events in the movie and adds new meaning to those scenes and characters. It’s hard to ask much more of that from a tie-in book, but Rebel Rising presents a captivating story that stands on its own.

Without spoiling too much, this book answers a lot of the questions people may have about Jyn. Whether it’s seeing her first solo mission for Saw, learning the backstories for her various aliases, or finding out why she’s a forger, the small details reveal the important moments of her life. Yet the story also explores the big questions like what she thinks of her father and what happened on Lah’mu between her parents and Krennic. It explores her relationship with Saw and what the two of them really think of each other. It shows the split between them and provides the how and why of that fracture. It shows the division between Saw and the Rebellion, though perhaps not as deeply as some might want to see, and there may be a more definitive story there that has yet to be told. But most importantly, it shows why Jyn leaves the life of a freedom fighter behind and why she’s reluctant to work with the Rebels. It shows her desire to ignore both the Empire and the Rebellion, and yet it also forges the ground that leads her to help the Rebels and seek out the Death Star plans. By telling her story, it provides the perfect lead-in to the film and an excellent deep dive into her character. Revis does such a good job of pulling off a satisfying story that you don’t feel like you need more. In the end, it provides just the answers you were looking for. As such, I give Rebel Rising a five out of five metal bikinis and highly recommend it.

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Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.
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