Series: Star Wars Illustrated Novels
Author: Tom Angleberger
Publisher: Disney LucasFilm Press
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
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Acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Tom Angleberger delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi like you've never experienced before, infusing the iconic, classic tale of good versus evil with a unique perspective and narrative style that will speak directly to today's young readers while enhancing the Star Wars experience for core fans of the saga.
This illustrated novel is the third in the highly-anticipated series and features richly detailed art by celebrated Star Wars concept artist Iain McCaig-the creative mind behind the prequels characters Darth Maul and Padm Amidala. Fans old and new will be delighted by this beautifully crafted book and the unexpected twists in this retelling of a beloved story.
The third, and final book in the Star Wars Illustrated Novels series is a retelling of my second favorite Star Wars movie, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. In his book for the series, Tom Angleberger provides readers with a lot of information about the Star Wars universe, and I mean a lot. At times, it's fun to get a bit more insight, but more often than not, it's a tad bit annoying, and because of that, this book quickly became my least favorite in the series of illustrated novels. While I loved the movie, this book quickly became my least favorite in this series of retellings.
While Angleberger's writing is captivating, especially for its intended middle grade audience, I struggled with it, and I struggled to finish this book in a timely manner. I think the hardest part of this book is the fact that the chapters are so short. (Some of them are only three pages!) It feels like the action is stopping before it really gets started, and the flow of the novel is interrupted.
Angleberger also includes a lot of footnotes in this book. I can see younger readers needing some of them, especially if they are just casual Star Wars fans, but most of them aren't needed. Some of the footnotes don't even say anything other than that he won't talk about the event or item or creature to which he's referring. Through these notes, it's almost as if he's trying to prove to his readers that he knows all about Star Wars, and it really aggravated me. I actually found myself thinking, "Dude, this isn't necessary. Disney wouldn't have asked you to write this if they didn't think you could do it."
Now there are a lot of great things about Beware the Power of the Dark Side! No stone is unturned in this book because it's a complete retelling of the film. Everything from Return of the Jedi is in this book. Readers will get to experience Luke's feelings as he comes to realize the truth of his paternity. Readers will also hop from system to system as Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and the rest of the Rebellion prepare to destroy the new Death Star and the Empire.
I'd definitely recommend this book, and the rest of the Star Wars Illustrated Novels, to younger readers. I really think Angleberger's title would be best for a child who has just been introduced to Star Wars for the first time, but I can see adults enjoying it for a taste of nostalgia.
Tom Angleberger is an artist-turned-writer. He is a columnist for the Roanoke Times in Roanoke, Virginia, and began work on his first book while in middle school. Tom is married to author-illustrator Cece Bell. He lives in Christianburg, Virginia.