Firstly, yes, it has taken me this long to get around to reading/listening to this book. I just never really got around to it, I got it on Kindle a while back but I sometimes struggle with E-Books, I prefer the actual thing than holding a device when I’m reading. But hey, we all have our foibles and when my wife offered me an audiobook I went straight for ‘Solo’.
I am going to break this review in two. First I will tackle the story itself and second I will talk about the audio aspect.
I’m not going to pull any punches here, this is not my favourite novelisation we have had in the Disney era. In fact it’s almost at the bottom of the list (the bottom rank is held by Alan Dean Foster’s ‘The Force Awakens’).
The writing is good, but Lafferty never seems to feel comfortable in the Galaxy far, far away.
The book has the ‘Expanded Edition’ subtitle, which started with ‘The Last Jedi’ and we do get some extra material, starting with the job Han was sent on by Lady Proxima to sell the Coaxium which goes south. Right out of the gate I really didn’t enjoy this part, and whilst we are meant to feel sympathetic towards Han for getting double crossed, after reading this I think he deserves it, turning up late to the meeting because he wanted to play some Sabacc? Really? The fact he stopped to play a game of Sabacc feels like a very heavy handed introduction to the game early on and basically makes me want to punch Han because now I lack the sympathy I have for him when watching the film.
The added scenes of Qi’Ra after her and Han’s attempted escape give us a quick look at her life, first sold to a slaver who “trained” her. She later got sold to Dryden Vos and after a number of escape attempts, her and Dryden come to an understanding and she is allowed to rise in the ranks of his inner circle as his trained assassin and later his right hand in all his dealings.
We get a nice scene between Lando and L3 after the Falcon leaves Savareen, with the two of them having a brief farewell conversation as L3 becomes fully integrated into the Falcon itself. It really shows how deeply Lando cares for his co-pilot and how much the Falcon meant to him. You just know that he never would have gambled his ship had he known that Han had taken the ace up his sleeve.
The big addition, and my favourite has got to be the epilogue where Enfys Nest and the Cloud Riders meet with Saw Gurerra and a young Jyn Erso to hand over the Coaxium that Han gave them. It’s a really nice bit of connective tissue between the two stand-alone Star Wars Stories that I wish had been included in the film.
The characters are well written, the dialogue flows as well as it does in the film and the novel adequately tells the films story, but it just feels lacking, the added material feels almost like fan service, as if Lafferty had searched for the most asked questions on Social Media about the film and gave us some answers.
The audiobook however is a different beast. Having attempted to read the book and failed, getting the audiobook, narrated by the legendary Marc Thompson made it much more digestible.
Thompson plays the character perfectly, his ‘Beckett’ is so spot on to Woody Harrelson’s portrayal that you could almost mistake the two.
My only issue with the audiobook is the music. We get music from the Prequel era films rather than the actual soundtrack from the film, and given the release schedule, surely the producers could have used some of John Powell’s amazing score.
Definitely not my favourite by a long shot, but still not terrible. Problems during the production of the film and the fact they were doing reshoots a couple of months prior to release could have led to a rushed writing schedule, but the end product lacks something that had made other novelisations shine. The audiobook is fun and enjoyable and well acted and makes up for the books shortcomings.
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