Most everyone has heard the name Star Wars. Some people know more about the saga than you’d think possible while others have a limited awareness. But from the utmost fan to the novice, The Force Unleashed aims to please.
This story takes place between “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV: A New Hope.” Launched as a video game by LucasArts this Novel adaption was written by Australia author Sean Williams, who has also co-written three books in the New Jedi Order series (which I have yet to read.)
One fine day as Darth Vader was out frolicking on a foreign planet, he kills countless Wookies while making his way to the home of a Jedi. The original Star Wars movie indicated this time in history–when Vader tracked down all the Jedi and slaughtered them–which is why Yoda was in hiding. At any rate, Vader succeeds at killing the man, but to his surprise a little boy (the dead man’s son) summons the very lightsaber out of Vader’s hand. Rather than kill the boy, he takes him in as his secret apprentice.
In the game this scene was shown in the beginning, but in the book we don’t learn about it until later when the boy–now grown into a young man–experiences visions from the past. It was at this time he was searching out people who opposed the Emperor. Unlike before, he wasn’t there to kill them, but was on Vader’s orders to rally them to start a rebellion. Yes, that rebellion. Why? Vader said it was so he could overthrow the Emperor and take his place, with Starkiller at his side.
With Starkiller’s attractive pilot, Juno Eclipse, they travel the stars in order to fulfill his mission. We come across some familiar characters, such as Leia Organa, and get an earlier glimps of the Death Star. Starkiller finds himself torn between his loyalty to Vader and his love for Juno, and in the process we are wonderfully exposed to many twists and turns.
The story was much better than I thought it would be. Aside from the clunky action scenes–that sounded like a summary of the video game–I found myself getting into the tale. As a video game (which I’ve only partly played on the PS3,) and a book, I think the best adaption of this story would be in a movie format. I can see this being a hit on the big screen as it almost seemliness intertwines into the original franchise. I give the story four out of five, and am filled with a new desire to give the video game a second chance. That, and it’s important to note that the story has a lot of heart.
Things to consider:
I would age rank this in the early teens. There are no inappropriate sexual references or foul language, but there is a considerable amount of violence that could be disturbing to some children. And being Star Wars, this would definitely appeal more towards boys, but it isn’t limited to them by any means.
Opportunities for discussion:
Much like the original Star Wars theme, this story is a great opportunity to talk to your teens about redemption. The main difference here is that, unlike Vader who turned from the force, embraced the dark side, and then came back again; Starkiller only ever knew the dark side and was raised to believe it was right. It is common today for people to think they are “good people” and to “justify” their actions based on what they believe to be right, as is what Starkiller thought, but even in this tale Juno pointed out how [Starkiller] needed to be saved. Ask your teens if they think being a “good person” in their own definition is good enough. Then share with them your thoughts on the matter.