Before the Awakening Book Review!

Jondee here on Pressylla,

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Greg Rucka has been instrumental in the Journey to Force Awakens; the Shattered Empire comic book series and the young reader’s novel, Smuggler’s Run. His prequel novel, Before the Awakening, was released on the day of the film’s opening (so SPOILERS!) and features the stories of Finn, Rey, and Poe. Similar to the other young readers novels, it is illustrated by Phil Noto, one of the character and another interior b&w picture of an event in the story. The three stories give some background to our heroes. Finn’s chapter starts it off with the introduction of his stormtrooper team with nicknames like the clone troopers; FN-2199 (Nines), FN-2000 (Zeroes), and FN-2003 (Slip). This is revealing since this is the trooper who Finn sees dropped by Poe’s blaster and wipes his bloody hand on his helmet. Finn, FN-2187, no nickname, watches out for Slip since he is not as effective a soldier as the others. It is interesting to see how stormtroopers work, their tactics, and the readouts on their helmets. In this case, Eighty-Seven is on a mission to take out a Republic bunker held by a heavy repeating blaster.

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Slip is trapped, surrounded by Republic troops, and the others want to leave him behind. Finn charges in and blasts the soldiers. Then, he leads his team to the bunker and throws in grenades to take out the bunker. The simulation is finished and Captain Phasma has them report to her. Captain Phasma speaks to Finn alone wanting him to leave Slip to toughen up. Besides the training and morale sessions, Finn starts to have doubts. All of the troopers face each other sparring with low charged weapons. Finn takes on everyone, but uses his shield to defeat Slip. They are sent to a mining colony on Pressylla. Captain Phasma orders the stormtroopers to fire on the striking miners and Slip complies. Finn is conflicted, but they continue on to pick up Kylo Ren and head to Jakku. Next, we get the story of Rey, on Jakku. It starts off with a storm, X’us’Riia, the breath of the Teedos’ god, R’iia. There was only one played by Kiran Shah in the film, but they are the natives of Jakku.

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Rey is scavenging cruisers with her staff, no idea where she picked it up. The storm lasts for days and Rey takes refuge in her AT-AT home using a Y-Wing display with data chips from another ship to run flight simulations. This points a little to her flight skills. Once the storm is over, Rey rides into Niima outpost to trade her salvage. She sees a family in a freighter, this may connect to some other story.  Rey discovers a Ghtroc 690 freighter uncovered by the storm and still functional. Rey works getting salvage for food and also for the ship which she intends to trade to Unkar. She gets the attention of a woman, Devi, and her larger companion, Strunk. Rey had used mimetic sheets to hide the freighter, but the charge on them runs out and Devi and Strunk find her in the ship. She doesn’t trust them, but working together they get the freighter ready for a first flight piloted by Rey. They just need a hyperdrive converter. Lingering question from the movie: so Rey is looking for fuel for the hyperdrive. She is working at sustenance level, eating to survive, so where is she getting the fuel for her speeder? Rey travels some distance in that speeder so does Unkar deduct the fuel from the rations or as part of the trades? This is actually reasonable considering how much distance Rey travels and carrying cargo.

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Rey sleeps in the ship and wakes to find armed Teedos. She goes to take them on and finds that Devi and Strunk have been watching over the ship. They drive away the Teedos. The next day, Rey and Strunk go to bring back a hyperdrive converter from a wreckage. They get it installed to fly over to Unkar. Of course, we don’t see a ship with Rey and neither Devi or a Strunk so you guess what may have happened. It is really to show her tied to Jakku rather than escape it. Commander Poe’s story begins with his piloting for the New Republic with fellow pilots in Rapier Squadron; Kare (accent mark on the “e”) Kun, Iolo Arana (a Keshian who can see in the ultraviolet), and Muran. Poe (with BB-8) is thinking back on growing up on Yavin 4 with his parents who were seen in Shattered Empire. They get a distress call from the freighter Yissira Zynde and find First Order shuttles with boarding parties. The X-Wings take on TIE fighters when the freighter jumps and it destroys Muran’s fighter. They are debriefed by Major Lonno Deso who wants no further investigation on the freighter and the First Order. The state of the First Order is shown where they are violating the Galactic Concordance after the Battle of Jakku and the New Republic is placating them with political gestures.

Poe uses BB-8 to track the Yissira Zynde’s flight path to place called OR-Kappa-2722. They run into several Imperial ships and tangle with TIE fighters. Poe weaves around them until BB-8 picks up the freighter’s transponder and they jump. He returns to the New Republic base on Mirrin Prime and ordered to an abandoned hangar. Poe is met by Major Ematt, he was saved in Rucka’s Smuggler’s Run, and is the white haired officer in the Resistance command room. Ematt escorts Poe by speeder who thinks he is being arrested. They head through the rain to a prefabricated building. Poe has his first meeting with General Organa and he debriefs her on the Yissira Zynde. Leia admires Poe’s passion and offers him a place with the Resistance. Poe joins along with Iolo and Kare and are stationed at the Mon Calamari cruiser Echo of Hope. Leia gives Poe Operation: Sabre Strike. She suspects that New Republic senator Erudo Ro-Kiintor is working for the First Order. The mission is to steal Ro-Kiintor’s yacht. The only problem is the New Republic response time for a distress call is eight minutes. Poe’s group must use Z-95 Headhunters from the Clone Wars to shipjack Hevurion Grace. They also have to deal with First Order entanglements to recover data that leads directly into The Force Awakens. Four BB-8’s out of Five!

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