With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital platforms this week, it’s time to celebrate! Use this handy guide that points out differences and items in the novelization of TFA versus the movie that will explain certain events and enhance your viewing experience.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
(If you somehow haven’t seen The Force Awakens yet and are reading this article)
Leia’s Urgency – We learn right from the crawl – Luke Skywalker is missing, and that Leia is relentlessly searching for him. The opening paragraph of the book tells us that Leia has no one else she could rely on, “no one like her brother” with the New Republic on the verge of “implosion, of destruction, of complete collapse.”
Rey is nearly 20 years old – Assuming this logically places Rey at 19 years old, that means she would have been born 11 years after the events of Return of the Jedi. This is significant because it likely debunks the rumor and theory that Rey and Ben Solo aka Kylo Ren are twins (though it is extremely likely that Episode VIII/IX will confirm that for us – note that it does not confirm that they are not siblings). Kylo Ren is 29 years old, having been born to Han Solo & Leia Organa 1 year after the Battle of Endor in Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. It is also significant, if not misleading, that Rey is 19 the first time we see her. Princess Leia is 19 when we see her in Episode IV: A New Hope. Furthermore, Padme Amidala is 14 in Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Does this point to her being Leia’s daughter? It sure could. It’s very possible that Rey wouldn’t have any recollection of Ben/Kylo by the time she was left on Jakku around age 5 or 6. Check out this awesome age guide, featuring most of the major players in the universe.
Rey sees a motherly moment on Jakku – while Rey is working on cleaning her savaged parts for the day, she gets entranced by a mother “clad in wrappings of deep maroon that shaded to purple” that brushes her son’s hair. Purple is generally the color of royalty. Perhaps this is a stretch, but it could be a subtle nod from the author to Princess Leia being Rey’s mother.
Rey’s “big secret” teased – The big secret that TFA never tells us is who Rey is and what her background is, cleverly letting fans speculate for a few more years. When Rey meets BB-8 on Jakku for the first time, he won’t say where he comes from. Rey replies “Oh. Classified. Really? Well, me too. Big secret.”
BB-8 is a male – While this might not seem significant, there was a small discussion after TFA debuted that BB-8 was gender neutral. Sure, BB-8 is a droid, but come on, commit to something. The book tells us male, just like C-3P0 & R2-D2 are. “She didn’t like it – him.”
Kylo Ren’s feelings on revenge – in an extended exchange with the captured Poe Dameron, Kylo says “Revenge is little more than an adolescent concession to personal vanity.” The Sith are all about revenge and while he might not be a Sith just yet, it’s very interesting that his feelings conflict with those of his idol – his grandfather, Darth Vader. Perhaps this new darkness is a new facet of Force users all together. We never really explore The Knights of Ren – maybe revenge is an outdated philosophy according to them.
Kylo Ren is referred to as “tall” – Darth Vader was notoriously tall. Author Alan Dean Foster describes Kylo Ren as tall in his exchange with General Hux over the escape of Dameron and Finn.
Kylo Ren is a “newcomer” to the First Order – This is incredibly interesting – the book describes Kylo Ren as a “newcomer” during his exchange with General Hux and Captain Phasma. “It was evident from Hux’s tone and body language that he held no love for the newcomer.” We know Ren used to be Luke’s apprentice under the new Jedi Order, associated with the Resistance/New Republic. But how long ago did he defect?
The Millenium Falcon’s modifications – As Rey & Finn steal the Millenium Falcon to escape Jakku, we see in the movie a few alterations that differentiate it from the Falcon we last saw in ROTJ. The most visible is the rectangular satellite dish, as opposed to the former circular design. The book says that Rey thinks it is “Tougher than it looks.” Furthermore, “I Oh Han Solo, you sly smuggler.
Rey’s Piloting Skills explained – One major point of contention with Star Wars fans is how quickly Rey seems to catch on to everything she does. You’ll see a few more bullet points like this below in the remainder of the article. Rey takes the Falcon on a wild chase through Jakku’s junk yards while First Order Tie Fighters are in pursuit. There are some pretty ridiculous maneuvers in there, some we have never seen Han, Luke, or Anakin pull off. She’s clearly strong with the Force and likely due to her heritage. However, her flying can partially be explained by this, during an exchange with Finn just before the pair meets Han Solo for the first time: “I.” Sounds oddly similar to her (probable) grandfather, doesn’t it? Don’t forget – Anakin Skywalker is often touted in the films as the best pilot in the galaxy and could speed around in a podracer at an early age, being the only human to be able to have such reflexes to do so (those dang midi chlorians).
Kylo Ren’s extended monologue on similarities from past Galactic events (For all of you “Episode IV Remake” whiners out there) –
Sure, similarities and symmetry from A New Hope can be found all over TFA. But history has a funny way of repeating itself in real life and alas, Star Wars is no different. When Lieutenant Mitaka (the guy that tells Ren about Finn & Rey escaping) comes to give Ren an update, Ren gazes out the window, delivering this extended recap: “In a way, we are but an infinitely smaller reflection of the same conflict. It is the task of the First Order to remove the disorder from our own existence, so that civilization may be returned to the stability that promotes progress. A stability that existed under the Empire, was reduced to anarchy by the Rebellion, was inherited by the so-called Republic, and will be restored by us. Future historians will look upon this as the time when a strong hand brought the rule of law back to civilization.” A clever jab from Foster, yet one that explains and in some ways shuts down the theory that TFA is an Episode IV remake.
Star Trek Jab – Certainly a nob to JJ Abrams and his involvement in directing both franchises, Finn suggests “We could step into the matter transporter – if such a thing existed.”
Rey’s similarities to Han – Not quite committing to the fatherly approach and not quite the uncle approach, Han and Rey definitely seem to have a brief family history – even if not, Han knows who she is. The two are similar in a bunch of ways, as pointed out in the book: “What he had been, maybe, was someone not unlike herself. A bit of a businessman, a bit of a con man, a bit of an adventurer.”
Rey’s Physical Fitness/Fighting Ability – Rey can hold her own in a fight, Force sensitive or not. As witnessed in the film, she can take down foes and protect herself. “Surviving as a scavenger on Jakku ensured that she was in at least good physical condition as the average trooper.”
Leia described/Report from Jakku – This is not seen in the movie – General Leia is given a report and discusses multiple things:
- “No one would mistake the petite woman for anything but what she was: a princess and a general.”
- A member of the Resistance named “Brance” gives Leia a report of what they know from Jakku, including Lor San Tekka’s death.
- Leia murmurs “if they get to Luke first, we don’t have a chance.”
- BB-8 is missing.
Leia almost went to the Hosnian system – the Hosnian system is the planet that was destroyed by the First Order mid-way through the film. It was the home of the New Republic’s senate, much like Coruscant was in the hey-day of the old Republic. Leia sends Korr Sella, Leia’s personal envoy, in her place. She is sent because they believe Leia would be assassinated due to her extreme views. The senate was convening in an effort to discuss the rising threat of the First Order. What a shame.
Snoke’s Description – The book lists Supreme Leader Snoke as “Tall and gaunt, he was humanoid but not human.” It also confirms that he is indeed a hologram, if you didn’t believe so. Some believed he was simply a massive villain, like Thanos from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Alas, he is appearing in holographic form like Emperor Palpatine in Episode V. The book goes on to describe Snoke in a very intriguing way, which could give clues to his past: “Poorly reconstructed, the broken nose added to the asymmetry of the damaged visage. So did the position of the left eye, which was situated lower than the right.” “Long since healed over, old cuts and wounds marred the chin and forehead, the latter scar being particularly noteworthy.” I can’t decide if Snoke is a new character all together or if he has past ties to older Star Wars films/lore, but lately I have begun to think he might have been an Inquisitor (See: Star Wars Rebels).
How does Poe escape Jakku? -While Poe is stranded in the desert, he comes across a group of scavengers that get into a discussion about the Resistance. He helps them out of a pickle and in turn, they help him to escape Jakku.
Podracing mentioned – in a nod the prequels, the scavenger that Poe runs into claims “I am a salvager, not a podracer!”
Kylo Ren’s “Sanctuary” – We know of Kylo’s obsession with Darth Vader (and perhaps why), but so does the First Order. “Everyone on the ship knew what it was, who it belonged to, and what lay within.” It goes on to describe Darth Vader’s mask as follows: “The individual who claimed the space had no need of the usual accoutrements favored by sentient beings. He was content within himself and with who he was.” A major question is how did Kylo come to collect that mask? Is that a clue to who Snoke is?
Unkar Plutt visits Maz Kanata’s castle – this is a rumored deleted scene to be included with the release of tomorrow’s TFA on Blu-ray & DVD. Unkar (Simon Pegg plays him, bee tee dubba-u) takes a small group of his goons to try and steal back the Falcon. We finally get to witness Chewbacca tear the arm off of someone!
Rey’s vision in detail – It’s one of the most pivotal scenes of the entire movie and one of the most discussed. Rey sees “an impressive hallway, its architecture reminiscent of the Old Empire.” “She saw in the distance a section of the famed Cloud City.” The book also describes the presumed Knights of Ren – “seven tall, cloaked figures, dark and foreboding, all armed.” What is of most importance is what follows: “Firelight illuminated her, firelight from a distant, burning temple.” This is very likely the new Jedi Temple established by Luke.
The science behind Starkiller Base – An excerpt taken from pg. 174 of the novel describes how Starkiller Base works: “a tremendously compact volume of a type of dark energy know as quintessence had been accumulated at the center of the planet. Held in place inside a roiling molten metal core by the frozen world’s powerful magnetic field, augmented by the weapon system’s own containment field, it grew until there was nothing like it – nothing natural like it – in this corner of the galaxy.”
Leia feels a disturbance in the Force when the Hosnian system is destroyed – Seeing Alderaan destroyed in Episode IV was painful, but it didn’t pack the emotional punch that the Hosnian system’s destruction showed us. We see people on the planet, namely senators, just before the blast hits. The musical score provided by John Williams only adds to the grief. In the book, Leia leans against a console for support, reminiscent of Yoda in Episode III after the onset of Order 66 on Kashyyyk. She quotes “A great disturbance – in the Force. Deaths and passings,” garnering a similar feel to Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Falcon in Episode IV. She reflects on sending her envoy Sella. There’s a callback to Alderaan in this section: “First Alderaan, now the Hosnian system. No one, she knew, should have to be witness to the death of an entire world. She had been subjected to two. It must not be allowed to happen again.”
Rey has read stories – As Kylo Ren chases Rey in the forest, the book references Ren’s unique cross-hilt Lightsaber – “he was wielding a lightsaber unlike any she had ever seen in the stories she had read.” Has she read about Luke? Han? Leia? Sure sounds like it. How much does she really know?
Rey shot first – Han Solo infamously shot first during his encounter with Greedo in the Cantina in Episode IV. During a version of George Lucas’ remake, Greedo shot first. It has been a classic point of contention among Star Wars fans ever since. In an extended scene from the book, Kylo tells Rey “you shot first.” Like father, like daughter perhaps?
Han & Leia are separated, but still married – When Han and Leia first interact during the film, it gave me a rush of emotions. I was so glad that, at least for a bit, they had gotten together. The book confirms something the movie did not – they were married. And still are. “Husband and wife stood regarding each other for the first time in years.”
Leia admits the failure of Ben Solo’s dissent to the Dark Side, and that she left Han out of raising their child – This is a very noteworthy exchange between Han & Leia. In the book, the discussion expands to explain that Leia believed Han would only push Ben towards the Dark side, so she tried to guide Ben herself. “You had – you have – wonderful qualities, Han, but patience and understanding were never among them. I was afraid that your reactions would only drive him farther to the dark side. I thought I could shield him from Snoke’s influence and you from what was happening.” “It’s clear now that I was wrong. Whether your involvement would have made a difference, we’ll never know.” Kylo mentions at one point in the film that he clearly resents Han, that he was a poor father. It’s very interesting to note that it may have been Leia’s fault.
The fight inside Rey’s & Kylo Ren’s minds – A turning point during the film, this is where we see Rey’s mental strength at its finest. Kylo Ren is no master, but he is certainly naturally extremely strong in the Force thanks to his heritage. While Kylo tries to take the vision of the map to Skywalker from Rey’s mind, Rey says “Get – out – of – my – head.” As she grows stronger and realizes she can resist, she utters “I’m not giving you anything.” Kylo responds “We’ll see.”
Kylo Ren’s “compassion” for Rey – After Kylo’s failed attempt to extract the information from Rey’s mind, Snoke challenges Kylo, claiming that he has a soft spot for Rey. “You have compassion for her.” “It isn’t her strength that is making you fail. It’s your weakness.” Ouch. That’s painful to hear from your teacher. Kylo appears to know who she is throughout the film – so who is Rey and how is she connected or possibly related to Kylo?
Snoke is afraid of Luke Skywalker – Luke brought down the Empire, restored peace to the galaxy, and brought balance to the Force – what’s there to worry about? Snoke is obsessed with ensuring that Luke doesn’t make a comeback of any sorts, believing he is the key to the Resistance’s effort. “The more time we give them, the more likely chance, however slight, that they will find Skywalker and convince him to return to challenge our power.”
Planetary Shields/Force Fields explained – This explanation actually has ramifications for the entire Star Wars universe. It explains in detail how planetary shields work. “No planetary defense system can be sustained at a constant rate, it would take too much power. Besides, it isn’t necessary. All planetary shields have a fractional refresh. Instead of being constantly ‘on,’ they fluctuate at a predetermined rate. Keeps anything traveling less than lightspeed from getting through.” This explains how the Falcon blasts through to land on Starkiller Base. Fascinating stuff, huh?
Kylo Ren steps aboard the Millenium Falcon – In what will be a deleted scene on the Blu-ray/DVD release, Kylo Ren steps aboard his father’s ship to search for Rey and the crew. In the book, he searches every nook for the crew, even going as far as sitting down in the pilot’s seat. Ironic – he likely learned to fly in that seat. Pages later, the book tells of a quick speeder chase that takes place involving Rey, Finn, Han and Chewie.
Man & Wookie, for the last time – Fans felt that Han and/or Chewbacca were likely going to be killed off in TFA. It was heartbreaking to see Han die at the hands of Kylo Ren, his son nonetheless. Right before, as they are planting charges to destroy the base, the book mentions a touching, foreshadowing moment: “Unintentionally, their eyes met – and the stare held. Man and Wookie realized it might be for the last time. Nothing more was said.” Ugh, right in the feels. Han likely knew he wasn’t coming back when Leia sent him to get his son.
Han hasn’t seen Ben in a while – The time frame in which Ben Solo is seduced by the Dark Side and becomes Kylo Ren isn’t clear, but this should give a clue. During their fateful meeting at Starkiller Base, the book says “Reaching up, he slowly removed the mask. For the first time Han saw the face of his son as a grown man – and it jolted him.”
Kylo Ren weakened – physically & emotionally – In the book, Han tells Ben that Leia misses him. Shortly after, Ben kills Han and then falls to his knees, “stunned by his own action.” It notes that he struggled to stand, partially from Chewbacca’s Bowcaster shot into his side. This certainly had a part in Kylo’s Lightsaber tilt with Rey, as he was not at full power.
Kylo Ren tells Rey “It is you” – Kylo mutters this to Rey in the book, right after Kylo defeats Finn and attempts to Force grab Luke’s blue Lightsaber, only to lose it to Rey’s abilities. He definitely knows who she is now. I have a theory on why the Lightsaber went to Rey, check it out here.
Rey is told to kill Kylo Ren – Rey’s ferocious attack on Kylo seems to awaken the Force even more than previously witnessed. She gets so deep into the darkness, that the book says she hears a voice inside her head say “kill him.” Though it confirms it is of the Dark side, it never explicitly says the voice belongs to Snoke. It very likely does. How many times have we seen masters tell foes to kill their apprentice? In the movies alone, we see Palpatine tell Anakin to kill Count Dooku in Episode III, then again in Episode VI when Palpatine tells Luke to kill Vader. We know what kind of fate that brings for the killer, don’t we? Rey has overcome a big step, presumably early in her life in the Force.
Why Chewbacca runs past Leia – It has been oft-asked why Chewbacca ran past Leia following Han’s death. After all, they are the two that were closest to Han throughout the last 30 years of his life. While it would have been touching, the sentiment is that Chewie needed to aid in getting Finn to the doctor after having suffered brutal injuries from Kylo. The book even goes as far as to say that Chewie is carrying Finn. In recent news, JJ Abrams claimed that he regretted not having Chewie embrace Leia. It’s possible that it would have made Rey & Leia meeting less significant, but it could have been done in a manner that didn’t compromise that moment.
Rey & Leia meet for the first time (we think) & extended dialogue – As a movie goer, I was dying for this moment, hoping that it would give us a clue into Rey’s past. Cleverly, it was left ambiguous. The book doesn’t give us much, but says that Rey “instinctively” heads toward Leia. Four pages later, when Rey is about to take off in the Falcon to find Luke, Leia and Rey share an extended conversation in the book: Rey tells Leia “you’re also afraid. In sending me away, you’re – reminded.” Leia responds “You won’t share the fate of our son.” Leia is comparing sending Rey to Luke to the way she sent Ben away. Symmetry again? Rey would be 10 years younger than her brother or cousin Ben – it would make sense, assuming she is one of those.
Rey & Poe meet – it might have escaped your thinking, but Rey and Poe never actually meet during the film. In the book, the two exchange briefly, with each knowing who the other is.
Rey gives Luke an offer – In the exciting last scene of TFA, Rey meets (again, presumably) Luke Skywalker. She holds out his former Lightsaber and the book explains it as an offer – “An offer. A plea. The galaxy’s only hope. She wondered what would happen next.” So do we. Apparently, Episode VIII takes place directly where VII cuts us off. There are a few lines of thinking. Is Rey saying “teach me the ways of the Force”? “Come back – the galaxy needs you”? Maybe both. Luke is now the galaxy’s only hope, much like Ben Kenobi was during Episode IV.
What do you think about these points? Did we miss any? Leave a comment below, we’d love to hear your thoughts and discussion!
Josiah LeRoy is The Geekiverse’s biggest Star Wars fan. He can’t wait for The Force Awakens on Blu-ray in just over 24 hours!!!
In celebration of The Force Awakens, check out these other videos and articles below:
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Review
The Force Awakens Spoilercast, Part I
The Force Awakens Spoilercast, Part II
The Force Awakens Spoilercast, Part III
Skycalibur Theory: Rey’s Lightsaber Has A Mind Of Its Own
The Star Wars Films Ranked
Walking Carpet Show
The novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was written by Alan Dean Foster. The Blu-ray & DVD versions of the film come to retailers Tuesday, April 5.