Novelizations, No Phantom Menace

9781101965498_0e088We don’t often see reviews of novelizations, but in The Washington Post Elizabeth Hand addresses the question, “You’ve seen the new Star Wars movie — should you read the book tie-in?” Her answer may be a bit biased. She wrote the novelization of Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys as well as a few Star Wars titles.

She reveals that authors “typically don’t see the film before they write the book. They’re given a screenplay and some still photos, and they work from that.”

Some may believe that novelizations were a 70s phenomenon, but Hand dates the popularity of books based on movies as far back as The Perils of Pauline, The Ten Commandments, and Metropolis, and writes that Jack London even made money as a novelizer.

Other well-known authors such as John Steinbeck, Orson Welles, Graham Greene and Arthur Miller produced them as well. Take that, novelization snobs.

As to the newest Star Wars novelization, The Force Awakens (PRH/Del Rey/LucasBooks; Random House Audio/BOT), Hand loves it, saying author Alan Dean Foster (who also wrote the very first Star Wars novelization although it got credited to George Lucas), does the movie “proud.”

At this point, the only available edition is the eBook. The print version has been delayed until January, for fear that hackers would get into printers’ files and reveal key plot points before the movie’s release. Hand says the reading experience is “fast-moving, atmospheric and raises goose bumps at just the right moments … it’s a testament to Foster’s skill and professionalism that he not only evokes entire onscreen worlds but that he also gives us glimpses of an even more vast, unseen universe that has arisen from his impressive imagination.”

So cheer up Star Wars fans, even as the movie ends, the story does not.

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