Learn the untold backstory of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: Free Fall.
Once upon a time, Poe Dameron was a bored farm boy living on Yavin 4 who dreamed of adventure. Desperate to get off the planet and become a pilot, he takes the first job he can find with a group of smugglers. Only to learn these aren’t your every day smugglers, but the Spice Runners of Kijimi. Poe has no choice but to go along for the ride. And what a ride it is. Filled with action, adventure, peril, and everything else Poe has been craving. But is the life of a criminal for him? Or does he belong with the New Republic as a hero like his parents?
As my colleague, Max pointed out, this drops right into the action as young Poe is taking his mom’s old A-wing for a joyride after an argument with his dad. From there, there’s a good balance of action scenes, battles, firefights, and adventure with some breaks sprinkled in.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron – Free Fall | By Alex Segura
Segura paces the novel well and keeps a good balance of scenes so the novel doesn’t get too much on one thing. The story has a clear beginning, middle, and end and expands on not only Poe but Zorii, who really didn’t have as big a role in The Rise Of Skywalker, as I was expecting from the casting and hype. The novel really gave some depth to their backstory and how and why Poe was mysteriously given a new backstory as a criminal.
To Be a Spice Runner, or To Not Be a Spice Runner
We already knew from previous books (see the MG Before the Awaking) that Poe grew up on a farm on Yavin and that his mom died when he was young. But this takes it a step further, casting him as a bored teenage boy desperate to get off-planet and become a pilot like his mom, but with a father dead set against that out of fear of losing him too. The bored farm boy who wants to fly like a deceased parent has been done before with Luke. It felt to me like they were taking that aspect of Luke, the hotshot pilot and former smuggler of Han, and trying to combine it into one character instead of making Poe his own man.
However, Segura did a good job of capturing the emotions and moral struggle Poe was going through. His desperation to get off-world at any cost, his desire for adventure and love of that aspect of his new life, but being hesitant to actually kill anyone, especially New Republic Security Officers. Poe struggles throughout if his new life is really for him or not, eventually making his choice in the penultimate chapters.
Segura did an equally good job giving Zorii an actual backstory and personality. She was a bit of an afterthought in The Rise Of Skywalker, but here we see her before she became the woman we briefly see later. At this point, Zorii is a young woman desperate to prove herself in the organization at any cost. And while Poe believes her to be as low on the totem pole as him, she’s not. Unlike Max, I did see it coming who she really was, and then her personality all made sense. She’s ruthless to a point, committed to the cause, disgusted by Poe’s idealism – even going as far as to say he has a hero complex- and struggling to live up to the expectations of her criminal family. She too has a choice on whether this life is for her, but unlike Poe, she was born to it.
Poe’s Changing Backstory
The Rise of Skywalker made it sound as if Poe had spent a large amount of time with the Spice Runners, and that he was a former criminal, much to the chagrin of many who believe this was a racist and stereotypical backstory. This new backstory made no sense to me since a criminal would never have gotten into the New Republic Navy, no matter how good of a pilot he was, unless it was part of a plea deal or sentencing after being caught. A use your skills for good or else kind of thing.
After reading this, I can safely say he doesn’t actually do any spice running. Despite the organization’s name, he and Zorii spend much of the novel either doing an odd job to get information, in “training”, or on the run from the group’s enemies, including a zealous New Republic Security Bureau officer with a vendetta against the Spice Runners. Most of what he does in defense of his own life, or trying to save their collective asses in a space battle. He’s really a glorified getaway driver.
There’s also no actual romance in this book. While it might have seemed like they were suggesting Zorii was an ex-girlfriend in TROS, she’s not. They were unlikely companions that became friends and did start to develop feelings for one another, but they only share a couple of kisses. No declarations are made, no internal thoughts of being in love, just some hand-holding a kiss or two, and not a big kiss either. It’s a bit refreshing to have a YA book of any kind without any romance. The majority of the YA Star Wars novels have focused on the female characters, which is great, but this is one the young male fans who are put off by those types of subplots can get behind, which is just as important.
Author of the Story
Alex Segura is new to Star Wars, but his previous work includes the Pete Fernandez series of crime thrillers and the YA comic series The Archies. Despite not liking some of the plots, I do like Segura’s writing style and hope he gets to do more in a galaxy far, far away. While not my favorite, I’d say this one is overall a good, fast-paced adventure. But if you’re looking for an epic tale, this isn’t quite it. I’d give it a B – to Max’s A++. It was just missing something to make it a great novel in my opinion.
Poe Dameron: Free Fall is published by Disney Books and is available to buy NOW!
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Melissa Villy is a regular Staff Writer for Future of the Force. She is a passionate Star Wars fan and is the custodian of the FOTF Jedi Archives. Follow her on Twitter @JediLibrarian42 where she uses the force frequently!