Max checks out Alex Segura’s hotly-anticipated Poe Dameron adventure
Poe Dameron: Free Fall was honestly one of the best YA Star Wars books, and YA books in general! Alex Segura is a newcomer to Star Wars writing, and he has hit the ground running; weaving a tale that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seats.
Poe Dameron: Free Fall | By Alex Segura
The book opens right into the action, with Poe flying his deceased mother’s A-wing on Yavin 4 after having a huge fight with his father. Poe is like the next generation Luke Skywalker in his desire to leave his boring world, become a pilot, and see the stars. However, unlike Luke, Poe lost his mother and only lives with his father. Of course, Luke did lose his mother as well, but it was when he was an infant and he doesn’t remember. Poe certainly remembers his mother Shara, and because of her death; Poe’s father Kes had spiraled into sadness and didn’t want Poe to leave. This is again, very similar to Luke Skywalker with his Uncle Owen BUT Poe is a lot angrier than Luke and acts out more.
Kes sees a lot of Shara in Poe, and it hurts him, so he pushes Poe away. Not good parenting. He really should be on the Star Wars equivalent of anti-depressants. Just saying. Segura accurately and skillfully writes the pain Poe felt with the absence of his mother. This really speaks to me, as I am very close to my mother and would never be able to cope with that kind of loss. In Legends, Yavin 4 became the site of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Praxeum. In canon, it has been “downgraded” to become a small, farming colony and the resemblance of Poe to Luke as a “farmboy” is quite exhilarating. Yet, Poe walks closer to the shady side of the Force than Luke. He’s angrier as I said, rebels more and hangs out a lot in a cantina; even though he is too young to drink.
In the Gully cantina, Poe meets Zorii Bliss or Zorii Wynn (as she is calling herself). She has her own crew and Poe (desperate to leave the moon) signs on without thinking, as their new pilot. However, he learns not too shortly afterward that they are the Spicerunners of Kijimi, a criminal drug cartel. Poe is just so reckless, that he sells himself away from his simple life in order to find adventure. Zorii is around the same age as Poe, and the book definitely has their relationship grow and its very organic and multifaceted, with many ups and downs.
The rest of the crew are very rough around the edges, to be sure and one is a Pa’aun. I only bring this up, because this member of the crew (Gen Tri) does not refer to itself as him/her but instead they or them. This is actually a new fad in society here on 2020 Earth, with many young people identifying as non-binary. However, in this case, I can’t help but wonder if Pa’auns have been recognized as hermaphrodites. Anyway, throughout the book, Poe has tons of confidence and comes up with great plans on the fly which strongly contrasts with his characterization in the novel Resistance Reborn and The Last Jedi movie. He is an adult in those tales, and it’s odd to see teen Poe so clever and adult Poe, so dumb. Yet, across the spectrum of age; they are consistently one of the best pilots in the Star Wars mythos.
The crew that Poe has joined takes some time to trust Poe, but Poe proves his worth again and again. I really like this kid. We even get to see his first experience with Lightspeed skipping, which he would later use as an adult in The Rise of Skywalker. While it seemed silly and blasphemous in that movie; it actually works well in this novel.The book has excellent pacing and skips ahead at times in an excellent seamless way. While reading, you have to really read a few pages in to know how far ahead they have skipped forwards or occasionally, backward. Poe and Zorii are such inspiring people. That you often forget they are the “bad guys”. Or are they? The line of morality is very grey in their world, with Poe leaning more towards the light and Zorii; the dark. We also spend most of the book wondering why Zorii joined the Spicerunners but that certainly doesn’t make her uni-dimensional.
This book really sold Zorii as a character to me and I legitimately want more of her. She was almost an afterthought in TROS; she doesn’t even take off her helmet in the movie! There are many clues throughout the first two acts pointing to how important Zorii is, but being a bonehead; I did not see it coming. While Poe and Zorii are undoubtedly the stars; there is also a subplot starring a woman named Selar Trune, who is with the New Republic Defense Force. She is obsessed with destroying the Spicerunners, for her own sad, tragic reasons and I only wish we had more time fleshing her out. On the Spicerunners team, I really like the droid EV6B6. She is an overly optimistic droid, and while she is annoying at times; it drives further home my belief that droids are VERY important and not to be underestimated.
Poe crosses paths with Selar and the New Republic and he is conflicted with fighting against them as a criminal. He has loyalty to his new Spicerunner friends, but he also has a moral compass and does not want to kill other sentient beings. Zorii tells him that this is the life he chose, but you can see the hero in Poe, trying to burst free.
Free Fall was just a spectacular bit of writing and I can’t believe how good it was. For all you American readers; it’s like Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. Unexpectedly awesome! While it doesn’t necessarily add a lot of lore to the canon, its strength lies in the fact that it has such a good plotline. It has plot twists reveals, surprises, and more than once; Poe faces his destiny and must make difficult decisions. Alex Segura truly did what he set out to do – tell the tale of Poe’s formative years and show how a young hotshot pilot from Yavin 4 progressed to the Resistance hero we were first introduced to in The Force Awakens. Poe and Zorii’s relationship was so well portrayed and marred with sadness and indecision, starkly contrasting with Poe’s life decisions. I loved it. That’s the way a relationship plays out in the real world, and it should be no different in the Star Wars galaxy.
All in all, Poe needed to find himself, and make choices to determine his path and do the right thing. I cannot give this book a higher grade if I tried. A+++. I like my Star Wars with a little more references to advanced technology but that’s just me. The writing is stupendous. That’s the important part. Also, as a sidenote, Babu Frik appears (much to my delight), and let’s just say, his speech is even choppier than Yoda’s. Welcome to Star Wars, Alex Segura. Please stay awhile.
Poe Dameron: Free Fall is published by Disney Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Max Nocerino is a new addition to the Future of the Force roster. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter @MaxN2100 where he channels his passion frequently!