I had basically given up reading movie novelizations until I read this book. In fact, I initially had zero interest in reading this because I'd tried reading the novelization of The Force Awakens last year and hated it so virulently that I'd sworn off reading movie-into-book stuff.
The trouble is that, when I watch a movie, especially when I watch it over and over like I did Rogue One, I write it in my head as I watch. I will absolutely have an internal voice-over of sorts going on that narrates bits of the action, fills in what people are thinking and feeling, and generally novelizes it for me. One of the hazards of being a writer I guess. Also, it really bugs me when a writer feels the need to improve a movie's dialog by changing it a ton. If they want to add more, fine, but also give me the dialog that is in the movie the way it's said in the movie. I absolutely do not want to spend my time thinking, "But that's not what they said!"
Actually, it was a movie novelization that made me realize, when I was 18, that I was actually getting to be a good writer. I read the book version of The Mask of Zorro (1998) on the plane ride home for Christmas from college, and I kept objecting to the way it was written and wanting to improve it. That was the first time I ever read a book and thought, "I could have written this better." (And before I sound too arrogant, let me add that I've only thought that maybe a dozen times in the 18 years since. This is a rare and generally irksome occurrence, and usually one I get with children's books.)
However, DKoren read this and loved it, for the most part. She assured me that, while she also couldn't make it past the first chapter or two of The Force Awakens, she inhaled this book in a single day. So I got it from the library and gave it a try.
You may have noticed that it has been listed in my sidebar as something I'm reading for weeks. Maybe a month. That's not because I was dragging my feet about reading it, or having trouble getting into it. Quite the opposite! I have enjoyed this book so much, I have read it just a scene or two at a time, so as to savor it and prolong my enjoyment. And also because reading it was almost like watching the film. Since it's gone from theaters now, this was the best way I could find to maintain the joy I got from watching the movie over and over. In fact, I bought my own copy, which arrived yesterday. I know I'll be reading it over and over in the years to come. Especially the first scene in chapter 13.
Am I perfectly happy with this book? No. There are a few things I would have written differently. I interpreted a few character reactions to events in ways this author did not. But for the most part, I found it a wholly satisfying experience. There were a couple of times where Freed even used the exact word to describe something that I had picked for it while watching, which tickled me.
If you read my other blog, you know I fell in love with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) the first time I saw Rogue One. Obviously, that meant the characterization of Cassian was going to be make-or-break for this novel. I approved if it. In fact, all the characterizations were awesome, and some of them even made me like a character better than I do in the movie. Especially Lyra Erso (Jessica Prescott will be happy to hear this) -- I still object to her behavior, but I understand her choices a little better now. Similarly, I don't find General Draven quite so horrid as I did before. He's still a black-handed bossypants, but I get where he's coming from now.
The only thing I truly disliked about this book, to be honest, was the fact that it does have some bad language. Not a lot, but one of the things I love about the film is that it has zero bad language. I wish the book had been the same.
Particularly Good Bits:
The tragedy of K-2SO's existence was this: The skills he most cherished were skills his rebel masters disdained; and the skills he considered crude and trivial were skills his masters were helpless to learn (p. 144).
He was tired of crimes he never answered for (p. 153).
Steam spilled from the iris, and as Krennic's eyes adjusted he heard a new sound: a hollow, metallic rasp that resonated in the chamber; the desperate, hungry breathing of a creature that should not have been alive (p. 189).
Dozens of vessels winked into existence against the shroud of space, filling the void as if some mythological deity had upturned a bottle of fresh stars over the heaves (p. 252).
It was, in a sense, a delaying tactic, but delay defeat long enough, and a triumph might eventually find its way home (p. 265).
Was this hope? Facing fear after fear, for oneself and for friends and for the galaxy, all out of some desperate need to accomplish the impossible? (p. 271).
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for violence and language.