Star Wars fever continues to sweep the nation, and this blog is no exception. With that in mind, here's a prequel story to The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka and Phil Noto. Not a long book, it's three stories centered around the main characters of the movie.
In the first story, stormtrooper FN-2187 is on a fire-team running simulations in preparation for their first mission. FN-2187 is the shining start of the team, consistently out-performing his comrades. However, in the eyes of their CO, Captain Phasma, he has a critical weakness: Compassion. During simulated battle, he goes back and saves a member of his team who has been pinned down by New Republic fire. Phasma tells him his duty is to the First Order and not to his team and he needs to put the mission ahead of everything else. FN-2187 complies, but soon the team is sent on their first mission to a mining asteroid to deal with striking miners. And Captain Phasma's solution will test FN-2187's loyalties like never before.
The second story takes place on the Tatooine wannabe Jakku. Scavenger Rey ekes out a meager living selling scrap to shady businessman Unkar. One day, she finds the score of a lifetime in the form of an intact freighter. Realizing she can really clean up if she gets it running, she sets out to do just that. But she has to keep it a secret for months as she toils away, strategically deciding which parts scavenged from other wrecks to sell for food and which to use to repair the freighter. And when her operation is finally uncovered, she must decide who she can trust, a decision which may screw her in the end.
The third and final story focuses on Poe Dameron, a pilot for the New Republic's Rapier Squadron. One day, they receive a distress signal from a ship. They go to help, only to find a First Order force attacking the ship. Before they can rescue it, the bad guys board it and take off with it. Poe tries to warn his superiors about the danger posed by the First Order, but they refuse to listen. One person who will listen, however, is General Leia Organa. She enlists Rapier Squadron for a top-secret mission to find out if a Republic senator is really a double agent for the New Order. Their mission is to quickly disable his yacht, board it and bring it back to base so they can recover the files stored on its computer. But to do so, they'll have to take on the might of the First Order, a tall order (no pun intended) for even these skilled pilots.
Before the Awakening is a fun little addendum to the movie which adds in interesting tidbits but ultimately answers few questions. For example, I expected to find out just how Poe ended up on Jakku, but this book doesn't tell you. Also, Rey's story is pretty weak and doesn't really add anything to her or her story.
However, I feel Poe's story is the best and has the most action. Also, FN-2187's story features a lot more of Captain Phasma than the movie. If you read my review on that, you know I was a tad underwhelmed by her presence there. This novel also has a better variety of ships than the movie, a complaint addressed to me by James.
You could do a lot worse than read Before The Awakening. Just don't expect any big revelations.