Why Content Created for Kids and Young Adults Can Be Important to Adult Star Wars Fans
With the release last month of Forces of Destiny the haters online have voiced that the shorts “aren’t important” or don’t hold any content of relevance in the saga because they’re “for kids”. I’m here to tell you that simply isn’t true. Just because content is marketed at and intended for younger fans, doesn’t mean that it can’t have important moments in it.
During the Journey to The Force Awakens event in 2015, four books for middle school aged readers were released. One for each of the classic trilogy’s main characters, and another for the new trilogy’s trio. Another book detailing Chirrut and Baze’s before Rogue One was also released. Each of the books contained important information on the characters and plot.
Moving Target by Cecil Catellucci and Jason Fry
In Moving Target, Leia tells PZ-4CO a story of a mission she went on shortly before the Battle of Endor. Through out we get insight into how she thinks and feels at this point in the story. We learn how she hates it that Rebel soldiers are willing to die to protect her. At several points in the story this happens, much to her disappoint and sorrow. Those that do die for her tell her her life is worth more than theirs, something Leia hates to hear. This is pretty heavy content for a book supposedly meant for kids aged 8–12.
We also get insight into her growing feelings for Han Solo as she struggles to chose between her duty and her heart. It’s Mon Mothma who advises her not to let her duty keep her from being happy. Throughout the story she comes to the realization that she cares about Han and she will allow herself one mission to save him before returning to the cause. Again, this isn’t something most would expect to find in a book meant for younger readers.
As for plot points, Nien Nunb makes an appearance aiding Leia on her mission. We also learn just how the Alliance got it’s hands on the Tydirium. I’d say those are pretty important details to have included.
The Weapon Of A Jedi by Jason Fry
For all those fans that wonder where Luke got his lightsaber training before Empire Strikes Back, you should definitely consider reading this one. There are some conversations about The Force with his mentor, Ben Kenobi, that happened ‘off screen’ during their journey in A New Hope. In addition, Luke hears The Force calling him and seeks out an old Jedi Temple. At this Temple Luke learns to use The Force to move objects for the first time. The Temple also contains training remotes where Luke learns to wield his father’s lightsaber. This is important because with the exception of a brief scene in A New Hope, we never see him undergo more extensive lightsaber training on screen. It also goes a long way to dispel the myth that he is a Force prodigy who fought Vader with out any training.
Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka
As the Rebels are evacuating the base on Yavin, Leia asks Han to go on a daring mission to save a Rebel spy. Han feels that the mission is yet another suicide mission, but his budding feelings for Leia — and Chewie’s prodding — spur him to go on the mission. What’s more, he’s afraid to fail and let her down. This book shows not only Han’s feelings for Leia, but how and why he decides to join the Alliance for good. The fact that Han is going on this mission purely because Leia asked him to is a pretty major plot point, if you ask me. It is all part of his transformation from smuggler to hero of the rebellion.
Also, the spy in question is Caluan Ematt who later appears in Bloodline and The Force Awakens. Not only do we get backstory for Han and Chewie, but for Ematt as well.
Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka
In Before the Awaking we get three short stories. In Finn’s, we learn about his training to be a First Order Stormtrooper and a mission he goes on shortly before the events on Jakku. He is shown to be a smart and capable soldier, but one who has trouble blindly following orders, leaving a man behind, and not thinking for himself. This puts Finn into conflict with Captain Phasma, who resigns to give him one more chance to fall in line. The story shows the early effects fighting the resistance has on him. It also clues us into why exactly he chooses to help Poe escape and why he is so keen to prove himself.
In Rey’s story, we learn about her days scavenging on Jakku. We are introduced to her mechanical abilities and learn where she learned to be a pilot. It seems she found a flight simulator on one of her scavenging missions and rigged it to an old helmet, after which time Rey learned to pilot every ship programmed into the sim. Like The Weapon of a Jedi, this goes a long way to dispel the myth of her being a prodigy. We also learn about her insecurities with trusting people.
In Poe’s story, we learn of his growing disillusionment with the New Republic military which refuses to act on reports that the First Order is actively attacking vessels. Poe undertakes, against orders, a daring mission to help provide evidence of these First Order activities. We also learn how he joins the Resistance and his motivations for doing so. There are also a few details about his past and his parents, who are the central characters in the comic mini-series Shattered Empire (which I highly recommend).
All three of these short stories show the characters motivations going into the new trilogy. While this may not seem important to some, it definitely made me look at each one in a new way.
Guardians Of The Whills by Gregg Rucka
The most recent book for young readers gives backstory to Baze and Chirrut. Set an unspecified time after the Empire comes to Jedha, but before the events of Rogue One, we get a surprising amount of information in this one. Firstly, we learn about Baze and Chirrut’s friendship, just what exactly the two get up to during the Empire’s occupation of Jedha, and more importantly their motivations for joining Cassian and Jyn later. We learn a bit about their time as Guardians and the other Force religions that call Jedha home. The book is also full of excerpts containing meditations on the Force, including the Jedi and Sith codes, and the mantra Chirrut is heard chanting throughout the film.
We also learn about Saw’s early days on Jedha, the names of his rebels (one of their names should be familiar to you), the different insurgencies that took place, and his early interactions with Baze and Chirrut. This helps paint the picture of how Jedha became the powder keg waiting to blow that we see in Rogue One.
Like Forces of Destiny, they may seem to some like minor stories that don’t matter, but in truth they all contain important information. All of these character motivations, insights into how they think, and seemingly minor plot points all contribute in some way to the overall story of the saga. Yet it’s all cleverly packaged, as they say, “for kids.” All of it has importance somewhere. If you chose not to read these books (or watch FoD) because they are targeted at younger fans, you are missing out not only on great stories, but a better understanding of the character’s thoughts and motivations. You’re also missing details that help tie the whole story together.
And another thing, just because they are meant for children, doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by adults. I’m in my thirties and thoroughly enjoyed them, and I know others that have too (Editor note: I am one of these and I am in my forties) . There are some definite dark moments and heavy material in several of them that will have more of an impact on older readers and adults for sure, but never underestimate a child’s ability to understand it too. They are far more clever and wiser than we give them credit for.
The most important thing about them though is that they can be the first Star Wars book a kid reads. It could make them more of a fan, tide them over to the next movie the way the adult books do for adults, or even ease them into the saga if their parent’s deem them too young for the content in the more recent movies. And that is a powerful thing.