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Solo: A Star Wars Story novel adds amazing scenes, characterization

Spoiler-free book review: Mur Lafferty's adaptation of the spinoff adventure offers some fascinating details about Q'ira and L3-37.


The novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story has plenty of worthwhile additions.

Penguin Random House

Solo: A Star Wars Story is all about Han Solo's early days, but his allies are the real stars of this novelization.

The movie the book's based on -- which came out in May and is set a decade before A New Hope -- isn't quite as epic as other entries in the space opera franchise, but this novel manages to capture its sense of fun while feeling a little more expansive.

This is a result of Mur Lafferty's excellent writing, which really pops off the page and pulls the reader along for the ride. Each character has a distinctive voice and every situation is vividly described. Fans may also remember the author from her short story about the cantina band in last year's A Certain Point of View anthology.

She infuses Han with an unrefined swagger and sense of wonder, making him feel like a prototypical version of the character we met in the Original Trilogy.

His reaction to seeing the Millennium Falcon -- owned at this point by smooth gambler Lando Calrissian -- for the first time is a beautiful moment and we get more insight into his relationship with mentor Tobias Beckett and Wookiee copilot Chewbacca.

Plus, purists can imagine a young Harrison Ford in place of Alden Ehrenreich if they felt strongly about that change.

The novel smoothly inserts new scenes alongside the events of the movie, giving us more of Han's life on Corellia with his fellow street kid and first love Qi'ra. We also see some of his turbulent time in the Empire. These are fascinating, but the truly juicy aspect is the additional characterization the novel offers.

Qi'ra, whose motivations are unclear in the movie, is suitably calculating right from the start. We learn what happened to her in the three years between her separation from Han in the prologue and main story (which the movie didn't get into), and it's fascinating. Her ambition is clear, but she remains sympathetic and relatable.

The novel also includes some more details about L3-37, Lando's quirky droid copilot, revealing her origins and evolution. An extended version of the movie's scene between Qi'ra and L3 makes several fascinating revelations about both characters.

Beyond these two, we learn more about Lando's expensive tastes, crime lord Dryden Vos (the story's main villain) seems even more dangerous and we get a better sense of the cameo character's role in events.

Now playing: Watch this: The worst things about Solo: A Star Wars Story

One of the novel's highlights is an extended finale that connects to the other Star Wars movies. It even includes some surprising cameos.

Lafferty's novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story is perfectly paced -- each scene feels breezy enough to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs -- and gives us extra insight into some of the movie's standout characters.

If you liked the movie but were left wanting more, this novel has exactly what you need.

Solo: A Star Wars, from Del Rey, hits shelves in hardcover, paperback and audiobook format Sept. 4.

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