- "First comes the day
Then comes the night.
After the darkness
Shines through the light.
The difference, they say,
Is only made right
By the resolving of gray
Through refined Jedi sight."
- ―"Journal of the Whills, 7:477," the epigraph of the novel
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the canon novelization of the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. The novel was written by Alan Dean Foster and first published by Del Rey on December 18, 2015 as an eBook. A hardcover first edition of the book was published on January 5, 2016, and a paperback edition was published on September 27, 2016. The paperback edition includes the short stories "Bait," also by Foster, and "The Perfect Weapon," by Delilah S. Dawson.
More than thirty years ago, Star Wars burst onto the big screen and became a cultural phenomenon. Now the next adventures in this blockbuster saga are poised to captivate old and new fans alike—beginning with the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And alongside the cinematic debut comes the thrilling novel adaptation by New York Times bestselling science fiction master Alan Dean Foster.
Set years after Return of the Jedi, this stunning new action-packed adventure rockets us back into the world of Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, and Luke Skywalker, while introducing a host of exciting new characters. Darth Vader may have been redeemed and the Emperor vanquished, but peace can be fleeting, and evil does not easily relent. Yet the simple belief in good can still empower ordinary individuals to rise and meet the greatest challenges.
- "I must say that working on the book has been as much fun as the script itself, which harkens back to the spirit of the first three films. I'm doing my darndest to maintain that feeling throughout the book. It's as if no time at all has passed since I novelized the first film and then wrote Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Certainly not some forty [sic] years."
- ―Alan Dean Foster
Foster stated that working on the book was "as much fun as the script itself, which harkens back to the spirit of the first three films" and that it feels as if no time had passed since he wrote the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and the novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye.
The novelization was first published as an eBook on December 18, 2015, the same day as the film itself. A hardcover first edition was published on January 5, 2016. The unusual publishing schedule was arranged directly by The Walt Disney Company with Del Rey, who agreed to forego holiday sales of print copies of the novel to prevent sensitive plot details from leaking. David Moench, a spokesperson for Del Rey, expressed that the publisher would have preferred to put out the hardcover edition on the same day as the film but understood the importance of preserving the secrecy. When J.J. Abrams, the film's director, was contacted by The Wall Street Journal regarding the story, he stated that he was not previously aware of the decision but looked forward to reading the novel.
The novel contains several differences to the film and scenes that do not appear in the final film:
The novel opens with a scene of Leia Organa thinking about the events of the past and about having sent an exceptional Resistance pilot, Poe Dameron, to try and find her brother, Luke Skywalker. This is followed by the opening scene of the movie, in which the First Order forces on approach to Jakku. During the attack on Tuanul, FN-2003 is killed by blaster fire from one of the Tuanul villagers instead by blaster fire of Dameron as in the film. FN-2187's failure to shoot the villagers is thought by one of his fellow troopers to be due to a "blaster jam," explaining why Captain Phasma orders him to turn in his weapon to be checked by technicians.
At Niima Outpost, rather than refusing outright Unkar Plutt's offer of 60 portions for BB-8, Rey instead bargains up. She ends up agreeing to sell him for 100 portions, but then retracts the deal and gives Plutt a piece of her mind. This burns her bridges with him, but earns her respect from many of the villagers.
A scene depicts Dameron's encounter with a scavenger on Jakku and his escape from the planet following the crash of the stolen TIE fighter. This sequence was revisited in the comic book Poe Dameron 26, although it presents some inconsistencies.
On board the Eravana, Razoo Qin-Fee is given some lines of dialogue, unlike in the film. Bala-Tik's lines are also extended. When a rathtar chases Han Solo, Solo kills a member of the Guavian Death Gang instead of the Kanjikluber Tolomar Reez.
At Takodana Castle, just after Finn's decision to try and flee the conflict, Plutt and some of his henchmen arrive and attempt to abduct Rey and BB-8. Rey tries to shoot him with the blaster Han gave her, but she has not taken the safety off, and she is quickly disarmed by Plutt. Rey is rescued by the intervention of Chewbacca, whom Plutt aggravates by poking at his wounded shoulder. Chewbacca responds by ripping off Plutt's arm. This scene was shot, but ultimately cut from the film. During Rey's Force vision, she hears a voice say, "Stay here. I'll come back for you," and "I'll come back, sweetheart, I promise."
When Starkiller Base destroys the Hosnian system, it is described as utilizing "dark energy" acquired from the sun. The destroyed planets and moons become miniature supernovae rather than slag. During a conversation between Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke, they discuss Darth Vader and his downfall, which they agree was due to "sentiment."
Finn tells the Resistance that Starkiller base uses its sun to channel dark energy, which temporarily blocks it out, rather than saying the star itself is drained until destroyed. A scene depicts Finn and Rey stealing a snowspeeder while on Starkiller Base. This starts a snowspeeder chase sequence. The chase was one of the scenes that was filmed but cut from the movie. Later, Kylo Ren leads a small group of stormtroopers to the crashed Millennium Falcon while on Starkiller Base. Ren boards the Falcon and reflects on his life before he turned to the dark side.
A Resistance medic informs Rey that Finn will be okay despite his injuries at the hands of Kylo Ren. Rey and Poe Dameron meet and introduce themselves to each other after the map to Luke is completed. This scene was filmed but ultimately deleted from the final cut. In the films, they do not meet until the end of Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi. The depiction of their first meeting in The Last Jedi was a suggestion that Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker original director Colin Trevorrow made to Rian Johnson for his then plans for Episode IX.
- ISBN 9781101965504; December 18, 2015; Del Rey; US eBook
- ISBN 9781101965498; January 5, 2016; Del Rey; US hardcover
- ISBN 9781101885550; January 5, 2016; Del Rey; US hardcover, Barnes & Noble Exclusive Edition
- ISBN 9781101966990; September 27, 2016; Del Rey; US paperback
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