Can you feel it?
The Force Awakens is finally here! (I won't see it until 12/26, so don't tell me what happens!). As someone who grew up watching Star Wars on TV and saw Return of the Jedi in the movie theater when I was very young, I have been a Star Wars fan all my life. While I've never really tried the Star Wars fiction written for adults (please check out adult reference librarian Amanda's fantastic roundup of Star Wars fiction; she's inspired me to check some out!), I have read the recent children's and YA novels and the adult nonfiction books. Books are always fantastic gifts, so if you are shopping for a Star Wars fan this Christmas, check out these fabulous books for the Jedi knights in your life (or Sith Lords, if that's how they roll):
Junior novelizations of movies tend to be rather mediocre. The recent trilogy of Star Wars novelizations for children is a major exception. These three books were written by amazing children's/YA authors (Alexandra Bracken, Adam Gidwitz, and Tom Angleberger), who took their own unique approach to retelling a very familiar story. Alexandra Bracken (A New Hope, which opens the trilogy), alternates the story's point of view from Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo, which gives very cool new insights into the characters. Adam Gidwitz (The Empire Strikes Back) address the reader as if he/she were actually Luke Skywalker. He also gives a quite beautiful overview of Jedi philosophy, and applies it to not just Star Wars action, but to instances that involve bullying, doing the right thing, etc. The final "dialogue" between Darth Vader and Luke (they're actually reading each other's mind) is actually quite moving; I know it's odd to say that, considering that Darth Daddy had just lopped off Luke's hand, but it's quite remarkable. Finally, Tom Angleberger's Return of the Jedi wraps up the trilogy perfectly; he handles the uncomfortable situation of Jabba's dancers (and Leia's costume while enslaved by Jabba) very well and appropriately. He draws upon the prequels from time to time; if you aren't familiar with them, you might be a bit confused when he mentions Padme (Luke and Leia's mother) and the Emperor's role in those movies. He also has hilarious annotations throughout the story, which provide a good dose of comic relief!
Lost Stars, a Star Wars novel for the YA crowd, is a fun and moving journey with two teens living through the events depicted in the original trilogy (and the events that happened after the conclusion of Return of the Jedi). Aristocrat Thane and farm girl Ciena are both pilot students at the Imperial Academy, but the Empire's actions drastically change their viewpoints (and not in the ways that you would assume).
I have not read Marvel's Star Wars comics, but I am impatiently awaiting our copies! This issue kicks off Darth Vader's story (issues #1-6); it's received rave reviews. We also just received Skywalker Strikes (issues #16).
The 5-Minute Stories line has been a big hit with our patrons, so they will undoubtedly be thrilled when we receive 5-Minute Star Wars Stories. There are a few stories involving characters from The Force Awakens, so spoiler alert!
If you want a comprehensive guide to the Star Wars universe (including the Clone Wars, etc), you have two options: Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know and Ultimate Star Wars. The first was written for young audiences, although hardcore preteen fans might be more interested in Ultimate Star Wars (it's a hefty book!).
Chris Taylor's How Star Wars Conquered the Universe (published in 2014 and written for adults) is an engrossing and detail-packed history of the Star Wars phenomenon.
George Lucas has cited The Hero With a Thousand Faces as crucial in his development of the Star Wars saga (note that he has no involvement in The Force Awakens or any movies after that). I have not read it yet (been on my list for a long time), but this overview of the hero's quest throughout mythology, religion, and literature sounds like an involved and intriguing read. (Notice Luke Skywalker in the bottom picture?)
Finally, one of the most anticipated Star Wars books coming out this year:
The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary! Set to be released on 12/18 (we won't have it before then--we're under strict rules about that!), this will give a comprehensive overview of the new movie. So....spoilers galore if you read this before you see the movie! If you're familiar with DK's other excellent Star Wars visual dictionaries, you know you are in for a treat.
With Disney planning an avalanche of Star Wars movies and books, it looks like the force will be with us for a long time. Happy reading!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library