Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Book Review: So You Want to Be a Jedi?

Title: The Empire Strikes Back: So You Want to Be a Jedi?
Series: Star Wars Illustrated Novels
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Age Level: Middle Grade
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press
Publication Date: September 22, 2015

Source: Purchased
Will you become the next great Jedi?

Acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author Adam Gidwitz delivers a captivating retelling of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back as you've never experienced before, dropping you right in the middle of the action.

You are Luke Skywalker, taking your first steps toward becoming the greatest Jedi in the galaxy. But the way will not be easy, and the power of the dark side is strong....

My Review

What's that? You've already read Alexandra Bracken's The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy? You're ready for another Star Wars novelization? Look no further than the second novel in this new series of novelizations. Adam Gidwitz continues Luke, Leia, and Han's story with his retelling, So You Want to Be a Jedi?, which is based on Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

So You Want to Be a Jedi is a little different. Why? Gidwitz's writing style. In this novel, the reader isn't just reading about the events that take place; he/she is actually living them. Gidwitz developed this book to make it seem like the reader is really Luke Skywalker. At first, I thought that I wasn't going to enjoy this style, but I was surprised because I really liked it. It's definitely a cool way to do a retelling, and I felt like I was really reading and savoring every moment.

I also liked the lessons and tests that follow each chapter. Yes, some of these lessons are a bit quirky, and I certainly wasn't going to balance a book on my head while a friend threw paper balls at me or mess up my room and hop around on one foot just to test them out. But I enjoyed the thought that went into them, and I could really see middle grade readers trying these out. These lessons do more than make the reader feel like they are actually training to become a Jedi Knight. They are full of some great advice for young kids, and they could even help kids work on skills like patience and being kind to others. 

Personally, I really enjoyed this novel, but I didn't think it was perfect. At times, I felt like Gidwitz was mostly writing the book for a male audience. I realize that he's assuming that the reader will assume the role of Luke Skywalker, but it would have been nice to reach out to some of the younger female fans of Star Wars. 

I was also perplexed by the inclusion of some of the movie scenes. The reader is told that he/she is Luke Skywalker at the beginning of the book. It would have been more enjoyable to really see just what Luke sees, but Gidwitz includes some pretty memorable scenes from the movies where Luke wasn't present. I think finding another way to present those scenes to Luke, like added dialogue would have worked much better.

Gidwitz didn't write a perfect Star Wars novel, but he came pretty close. Yes, I've seen a lot of negative reviews for So You Want to Be a Jedi?, but I don't agree with them. I think this book is entertaining and engaging. Young readers will love reading this one and pretending to be Luke Skywalker, even if it's only for a few days.


Adam GidwitzAdam Gidwitz is the New York Times bestselling author of the Tale Dark and Grimm series. His books have been named ALA Notables; New York Times Editor's Choice; and best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus. Adam was a teacher for eight years in Brooklyn, where he currently resides.
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