Up until the novelization of The Last Jedi, Star Wars movie novelizations came out either before or concurrently with the film they adapted. This meant that they mostly followed the movie they adapted, adding little details here and there for flavor. You read them if you were really into Star Wars or didn’t want to put yourself through the prequels. The Last Jedi came out in December 2017; its novelization wasn’t released until March. It featured a lot of bonus material, so much so that StarWars.com marketed it as “essential”. This appears to also be the case with The Rise of Skywalker novelization, which is due to release on March 17, 2020. Written by Rae Carson (Girl of Fire and Thorns), the book is billed as an “extended edition” leading one to wonder what might have happened to the storied franchise if Peter Jackson had somehow gotten a chance at the director’s chair.
The dream (or nightmare) of a four hour Star Wars extended edition of The Rise of Skywalker aside, the novelization apparently did get a soft release at C2E2. Outlets are already reporting most of the new information, so here it is all assembled. In short, Palpatine was a clone, Rey and Kylo/Ben’s kiss may or may not have been romantic and Finn actually is Force Sensitive. Perhaps Forbes was right about Star Wars getting worse the more secrets it reveals. Or doesn’t reveal, in the case of the true nature of Rey and Kylo/Ben’s relationship.
Some of this information isn’t new: Ian McDiarmid told London Comic Con fans that Palpatine being a clone was in the original The Rise of Skywalker script. In December, J.J. Abrams continued to crush Finn/Rey shippers’ dreams when he told a screening audience that Finn wanted not to tell Rey that he was in love with her, but rather that he was Force Sensitive. At a similar event, Abrams also fueled the speculation that the Big Kiss was, in fact, not romantic and that Rey and Kylo/Ben are…more like brother and sister? (Everyone really does want to be the next Game of Thrones.)
The novelization has mainly just confirmed what was already reported or spilled by those who worked on the film. And nearly everyone who worked on The Rise of Skywalker in some major way has revealed something that wasn’t actually in the film, something external we clearly need to know to understand the film. Kylo Ren himself, Adam Driver, may have been one of the few cast and crew members to reveal very little beyond what was already on screen.
Going back to The Lord of the Rings extended editions for a moment; one of the great things about those versions of already-massive movies was that the original films stand up pretty well on their own. The Rise of Skywalker and The Last Jedi both forced fans and casual viewers alike to find important details outside of the cinematic experience itself. But maybe this is becoming the new normal. After all, Kevin Feige has hinted that in order to understand future Marvel movies, you’d better watch the new shows on Disney+.
The Rise of Skywalker novelization’s list price is a whopping $28.99, though. (It’s also getting a comic adaptation.) That’s quite an investment to make when you already saw the movie at least once in theatres. And if you’re seeing all the Marvel movies in theatres and paying for Disney+ every month? The House of Mouse has always made a bundle, but if this really is a new model they’re going to roll out, they might change their mascot to Scrooge McDuck.