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Star Wars: Before the Awakening
Greg Rucka

This was a well-written book, totally worth buying on Amazon because I was too impatient to wait on a hold list at the library. My only quibble is that the poor author did not have a lot of leeway or material to work with, and I feel the stories suffered for it. Everything had to be painted in broad strokes, especially with Rey, and I just wanted to know SO MUCH MORE about everyone.

Finn was handled so well, we really got a sense of how he feels isolated and different, despite how much he cares for his comrades. This helps us to understand why he was able to break off from the First Order and take initiative as an individualistic leader, even though he was still very much a stormtrooper scared of improvising outside of parameters. My biggest question is the same I had while re-watching TFA: Why hasn't Finn been subject to reconditioning long before Jakku?

Kylo Ren's dismissal of Finn's obvious hesitance and shell shock on Jakku can be explained by his struggle with his light side. But why hadn't Phasma reported abnormalities in a trooper under her command? She told Hux in TFA that FN-2187 had never breached protocol before—which is technically true. But why did she never express any concern to superiors about FN-2187's independent, compassionate quirks? Rebel in the making right there, sweetheart. She even coaches Finn to conceal these quirks, though quite derisively. I suspect there's more to her than meets the eye. Especially since any normal, well-trained commanding officer would have sounded an alarm when taken captive, and not cared whether she was shot or not. She even warned FN-2187 that he had no chance of getting out alive. Wouldn't it be in her best interest to inflate a false security so her captors would make a mistake? Hmmmm . . .

The passage focusing on Rey was by far my favorite. Rucka presented Rey in a human, believable way, and it was delightful. Love it when a male author is flexible enough to write a female protagonist the same way he writes a male one. I drank up every word of Rey's adventures. She's so strong and resilient while still being kind and understanding, and I admire her so much. I got SO upset when she started trusting Devi and Strunk even the tiniest bit, because while she's smart and wary, you just KNOW it can't end well. Hate, hate, hate reading doomed situations where people are dependent on unreliable people. I know it's great for tension and suspense, but it happens so much in real life, I hate reading about it.

And when their betrayal came to pass, ohhhhh. I felt so bad for poor Rey. ABANDONED AGAIN, NOOOOOO. I almost wish the whole book was about Rey. I want entire books sagas written about Rey, pretty please? Maybe I can make a life goal of writing a Star Wars novel from Rey's POV on commission. (And/or an Old Republic novel. Yup yup yup.)

But what really got to me was how much was NOT explained about Rey. She knows next to nothing about herself, so that's what we've got to deal with.

I have a feeling Poe may be Rucka's favorite, because it feels like he had the most fun writing Poe's section. Poe actually got more backstory than Finn and Rey combined, we actually got flashback scenes with his parents, who are both awesome. Poe's respect for Leia and camaraderie with his fellow pilots warms the heart. But, this section was the hardest to swallow, because we got deep in Sci-Fi Technical Jargon territory. I'm terrible with that, especially when we're talking about ships and engines and crap. So I had to constantly battle my eyes and brain glazing over and having to re-read sentences to make sense of what the crap my brain was supposed to be envisioning now. LOL.

Still, we got to see that Poe is very much a second-generation heir to Rebel legacy, and watch how he proves himself invaluable to Leia, and basically becomes her go-to guy for impossible awesomeness. Kinda sad when you think of it, because if Kylo wasn't a moody little jerk bent on raising hell, HE would have been the pilot Leia relied on. At least, I'm assuming Kylo has to be a good pilot, just because his father, uncle, and grandpa were all excellent pilots. If Kylo turns out to suck at flying, I'll be on the floor laughing for the next decade.
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