Lit OT young reader adaptations by Alexandra Bracken, Adam Gidwitz, and Tom Angleburger

Discussion in 'Literature' started by GrandAdmiralJello, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Wanted to make a thread for these a while ago, but the announcement of the cover art provides perfect opportunity.

    These three novelists are writing young reader adaptations of the OT, supposedly to help younger readers understand the classic era better as we approach TFA. The authors were given liberty to explore how to reach young audiences in their own way, so as a result each of the three adaptations is vastly different. In each case though, they're not merely re-gurgitating the action on screen.

    Since we're presumably not going to get a rewrite of the OT novelizations -- and why would we want those quirky things altered -- these adaptations are the next closest thing to having OT novels that take events of the PT into account.

    I've been a great fan of the middle grade novels in the new canon so far. I never really read much SW young lit before, but Jason Fry and Michael Kogge have written some of the best works in the new canon. I think that these novelists may well end up adding to that trend.

    Here's a sampler containing parts of all three adaptations: http://a.dilcdn.com/bl/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2015/06/Star-Wars-Chapter-Sampler-FINAL.pdf

    Release date for all three is Sept 22.

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    First up, the ANH adaptation: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy by Alexandra Bracken. I love everything about this one. The cover is fantastic, and I really dig Bracken's writing style. The intro to the book has the requisite mythic grandeur that is my deepest association with Star Wars, and the sample chapters covering Leia's POV have some of the best Leia characterization I've ever seen. Bracken said her goal was to present ANH as a story of characters and really get into their heads, and if her Leia is any indication this is going to be a wonderful read.

    Folks here will be especially interested to know that Bracken is a longtime EU fan and drew from disparate sources including the radio drama in writing this adaptation. Needless to say, I can't wait. This is easily my favorite of the three and might well become one of my favorite SW books in general. Read the except and you'll see why.

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    Next we have Adam Gidwitz's ESB adaptation: So You Want to Be a Jedi? This is the controversial one. The book is sort of an odd first/second person blend, partly a guide to being a Jedi and partly a story that you imagine the narrator's sitting down to tell you. The language is colloquial and modern, down to describing Threepio as sounding like a "British butler."

    I... can understand the annoyance. There are space words and there are terrestrial words, but proper nouns (unless they're something like "spartan furnishings") don't belong. I saw a lot of folks in the Disney Wars thread lambasting these. But I don't think it's fair to characterize it as bad writing, because Gidwitz almost certainly did it on purpose. I don't think it's something that slipped during the editorial process. The narration is intended to be OOU, because this is the approach he took to relating the story.

    Maybe it doesn't work for everyone. But I like that he made the bold choice and tried it. I think the annoyance is magnified because this is ESB and it's the only ESB novelization we'll be getting but... remember, it's for young audiences. The benefit to us is incidental. It may not have the lore to it that Bracken's book does, but it's cute. And after thinking it over for a night, I think it works. We in Lit can be overserious about our SW books sometimes.

    [IMG]

    Lastly and not least, we have Tom Angleburger's ROTJ adaptation: Beware the Power of the Dark Side! This book has more of a comedic gloss. It's third person like we might except, but the guy uses footnotes as humorous asides. He also has a lot of fun transcribing Huttese.

    This excerpt felt shorter than the others, but it may also have passed by quickly. It has a sense of zany fun to it, and that's really sort of part of ROTJ's DNA (along with the emotional drama and heft at the end). I'm eager to see how the book's tone holds up throughout but it starts off really strong. Folks who are interested in continuity should note that Angleburger also employs old continuity, describing Jabba's Palace as a former monastery.

    Personally, I think these books are showing a lot of potential and look forward to them a lot. I also know that Lit has less patience with these kind of books. I'm glad they're doing something different. The Princess, The Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy is easily my favorite but if all three were written with the same tone I don't know if the project would be as interesting.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Sep 20, 2015
  2. Cynical_Ben Jedi Grand Master

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    I loved how quick everyone was to crap all over these. I think they look great, I'll probably pick them up and read them with my younger siblings.
  3. Vthuil Force Ghost

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    I'm sorry, but no. Having read the excerpt, So You Want To Be A Jedi really does sound pretty stupid. Maybe goofy stupid in the Jedi Prince style, but unless it's meant for a significantly younger age group than the other two, I'm not sure it gets a pass just because it's meant for kids.

    The ROTJ one comes across as trying too hard in some places - and I don't know when writing in the present tense became popular for "young readers" books, but it can't end soon enough for my taste - but the ANH one looks really good.
  4. Revanfan1 Force Ghost

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    Huh, that...British thing is weird. Other than that, those seem pretty great. The ROTJ one has some serious potential; I may have to pick these up and actually read them.
  5. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    That's fair. I was bothered by all the people dismissing these without reading the samples, especially since the ANH one in particular is great.

    I'm not going to say I don't know where you're coming from with ESB. I predict it'll stay controversial. I didn't care for it yesterday, but I'm mostly over it. I don't think it's too bad. It could stand to be less colloquial, but I think the second person at least works.

    And ROTJ is probably subjective with the humor. I enjoy silly.


    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
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  6. The Positive Fan Jedi Master

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    That ANH excerpt is so good. Every moment in which Alexandra Bracken is not writing a pre-ANH Leia novel, detailing her time in the Senate and her life on Alderaan along with her early experiences with Vader and Palpatine, is a wasted moment.
  7. CooperTFN TFN EU Staff Emeritus

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    On reflection, I think I mind the real-world references in ESB less than the little lessons. I can see the appeal of something like that on its own but this way they just feel like interruptions.
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  8. Revanfan1 Force Ghost

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    Yeah, they're weird. Stick 'em in their own section at the back of the book, or something. But having them dispersed at random intervals throughout the book? No thanks.
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  9. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Right? Bracken has Leia down perfectly. The synergy with the radio drama and SW Tales adds to the good characterization. Anybody writing Leia should read and take notes.

    If she does Han or Luke even half as well, it'll be one of my favorite SW books period.


    Re: the Jedi guide interjections, it might actually work really well as its own book. But it does break up the whole "I'm telling you a story" thing. But it's kind of interesting to have the reader going through "Jedi lessons" at the same time Luke is.

    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
    Last edited by GrandAdmiralJello, Jun 9, 2015
  10. Duguay Jedi Master

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    Hmmm, RotJ as comedic, that's kind of odd.

    ESB is interesting in the way it invites the reader to be Luke, and really get inside the spiritual quest to become a Jedi. It makes me think of the second trailer for The Force Awakens, when the voice-over of Luke Skywalker from RotJ's dialogue seems to be addressing the audience over a blacked out screen, telling us, "You have that power too!" As if to say, the power of the Force resides in us, the audience, and invites us in a meta kind of way to enter or re-enter the SW reality on a whole new level. This new ESB re-telling seems to me to be going for the same effect, that's pretty exciting to my mind.

    All three of them sound very promising, just from how creatively they approach their task of telling the familiar story in new ways.
  11. mes520 Jedi Master

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    I like the covers, but I already have the YA books, including the PT and OT trilogy hardbacks from Borders...RIP Borders :_|

    Speaking of the PT, I hope they release new YA novels for them too, but anyway.
  12. Praenomen Cognomen Jedi Master

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    It's not "British" that gets to me... it's the unforgivable string of words after British.

    "...butler with his underwear in a twist."


    It's like he said, "Kids like irreverent stuff, like that Adventurebob Squaretime show! Let's talk about really REALLY funny weird stuff, just so totally weird, like... like underwear!" Then he snorted a line of powdered sugar and checked himself into rehab because it was all too much.
    Last edited by Praenomen Cognomen, Jun 6, 2015
  13. vong333 Jedi Grand Master

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    I'm not going to gush nor am I going to bash this. I think this is a pretty good idea and I am looking forward to these new updated versions. We already have the original movie novelizations and while they are from a draft that were one or two steps from the completed movie they were good enough and are iconic still today. We have the three junior novelizations that were done many years ago on the OT and they were good. We then have the three books of the radio adaptions and the annotated screenplay book which has all the scenes that were in the movie along with excerpts of concepts that did not make it in. Then we have those delicious Jonathon Rinzler books that chronicle the entire making of movie of the OT to include different variations of the screenplays and stuff like that. I'm looking forward to the three books don't get me wrong on this, but for those that want to complain just remember that we have gotten all those other things. So this style will be something new and refreshing take on an old story. That's how I look at it and so should many of you.
  14. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    Well, as a note for continuity people... these are the only canon movie novelizations. So they're definitive. ;)


    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
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  15. Sturm Antilles Former Manager

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    The prose is a bit simplistic of course, but I do love that these truly do expand on "off-screen" events that are new, and also take into account other sources, such as the original radio dramas. I definitely enjoy that so far, the New Canon is re-incorporating the Legends stuff here and there.
  16. Zorrixor Force Ghost

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    I might try out the ANH one, but... still not into the ESB one, and comedy isn't my thing so dunno what my thoughts are on the ROTJ one really.

    What I also realised this morning: for something being marketed at young readers, the language feels rather... lofty. I mean, are phrases like "Tin Man" that meaningful to kids who've grown up watching Frozen, rather than Wizard of Oz? I'm also not sure how I feel about the British accent line, as it just feels a touch more satirical than I would normally like in a book that's being mainly aimed at children... I mean, it makes me wonder if it's going to go fullblown Godwin's law and compare the Empire to Nazis...
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  17. darklordoftech Force Ghost

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    I wonder if the whole novel will take the comedy approach or if only certain parts of the novel will.
  18. Barriss_Coffee Chosen One

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    I will imagine the entire ESB book is narrated by the Joker. He's part of Luke's inner conscious, that he's never told anyone about before. The part that inexplicably knows what a British butler is... and for some strange reason really detests them.

    "It is winter on the planet Hoth. It is always winter on Hoth. I mean, they have a summer. That’s when the temperature crawls up to about 10 degrees below freezing. It’s lovely. (Insert random giggling here) It is not summer, though. It’s winter, and the snow stands so deep you could lose a (hysterical laughter) small child in it."

    "She is punching buttons like they did something to her. He slides up beside her and whispers, 'Well, your highness, I guess this is it.' 'Yeah. I guess so.' She mashes buttons some more. (Dramatic sad Joker voice) Poor buttons."

    "You probably think that your next test will be trying to move something with your thoughts. Yeah, we’re not going to try that. Yet. I mean, you can give it a go."

    Seriously, you can't make this stuff up. Where's Mark Hamill's email address? I'm going to beg him to do a dramatic reading of this book in Joker-voice.
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  19. Pfluegermeister Jedi Grand Master

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    So Britain and underwear are canon now? Sweeeeeeet. :p
  20. The Positive Fan Jedi Master

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    [IMG]

    Though those look a lot more like Pampers than Fruit of the Loom. Just saying.
  21. GrandAdmiralJello Comms Admin + Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    What's a duck?


    Missa ab iPhona mea est.
  22. EternalHero Jedi Knight

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    The Leia sample is very promising. I like the writing a lot - very crisp and clear.

    It's kind of weird - George is gone but so much of the Nu-Continuity adheres more closely to his version of events than the old EU. This is the same Leia George always talked about - how she and her friends realized what the Empire really was and then took action. Cool! These look like they're going to be worth reading.
  23. Carrie1138 Jedi Knight

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    I'm definitely getting the ANH one. The other two, no, I really didn't like what I've read at all. ESB reads like it's aimed at five-year-olds, and the "funny" footnotes in the RotJ one just irritated me. Still, kudos to everyone involved for trying something different, I guess.

    There's an interesting bit in ANH where Leia uses her anger to focus while she's being hunted by stormtroopers on the Tantive IV. I'm interested to see where Bracken takes this, because it reads almost like she was unconsciously using the Force ... but the dark side of the Force.
  24. Vthuil Force Ghost

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    I know, different Joker, but after reading this all I can think is:

    "Wanna know how I got these scars?"

    [IMG]
  25. Aphra Jedi Knight

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    I'm definitely in the camp of "the Leia book looks awesome!" without being too excited about the others. I tried the ESB one and ragequit because I have a burning hatred for second-person narration. I've read too much bad fanfiction to budge on that.

    But the Leia book? Yeah, I'm buying that one.