Review: Star Wars: Rebel Rising by Beth Revis

Posted by DarkChaplain at 6/06/2017
When Jyn Erso was five years old, her mother was murdered and her father taken from her to serve the Empire. But despite the loss of her parents she is not completely alone—Saw Gerrera, a man willing to go to any extremes necessary in order to resist Imperial tyranny, takes her in as his own, and gives her not only a home but all the abilities and resources she needs to become a rebel herself. Jyn dedicates herself to the cause—and the man. But fighting alongside Saw and his people brings with it danger and the question of just how far Jyn is willing to go as one of Saw’s soldiers. When she faces an unthinkable betrayal that shatters her world, Jyn will have to pull the pieces of herself back together and figure out what she truly believes in...and who she can really trust.
Here we go again with another Star Wars novel. Catching up more and more with the New Canon material, thankfully!
This one's a somewhat unexpected treat in my eyes, seeing how it wasn't part of the Del Rey lineup of adult novels. Like Lost Stars, Rebel Rising proves these classifications foolish once again.

The Story:
"When Jyn Erso was five years old, her mother was murdered and her father taken from her to serve the Empire. But despite the loss of her parents she is not completely alone—Saw Gerrera, a man willing to go to any extremes necessary in order to resist Imperial tyranny, takes her in as his own, and gives her not only a home but all the abilities and resources she needs to become a rebel herself. Jyn dedicates herself to the cause—and the man. But fighting alongside Saw and his people brings with it danger and the question of just how far Jyn is willing to go as one of Saw’s soldiers. When she faces an unthinkable betrayal that shatters her world, Jyn will have to pull the pieces of herself back together and figure out what she truly believes in...and who she can really trust."


The Review:
Rebel Rising is, essentially, the Jyn Erso Story. If Rogue One didn't give you enough about its protagonist or seeing her parents Galen and Lyra in Catalyst wasn't enough either, this novel (oddly billed as a Young Adult novel and not published by Del Rey like usual) has you covered.

I would, however, recommend reading Catalyst first. Maybe I would even say to watch Rogue One ahead of time too, or at least read the novelization's prologue sections. The reason for that is very simple: Rebel Rising fills out the time between Galen Erso's abduction by Orson Krennic and Jyn's forced recruitment by the Rebel Alliance. It covers the better part of Jyn's life and a good chunk of Saw Gerrera's terrorist acts. I am actually sad that this released so long after the movie did, because it did a bang-up job fleshing out their relationships.

In the movie, Saw and Jyn never quite felt as "close" as they should have been, all things considered. The novelization by Alexander Freed did a better job having Jyn reflect on her time with Saw, but Rebel Rising invests a lot of time in making the rebel leader and the Erso girl feel like an odd patchwork family. Saw's love for the girl bleeds through in a lot of places, even if Jyn herself is plagued by doubts. It was a highly compelling dynamic to follow for about half the book, before their paths inevitably diverged.

But Rebel Rising does not simply set Jyn on her path to become a stubborn young woman, but sees her trained by Saw and his rebel bands. It was a lot of fun seeing her confrontations with some rivals for Saw's appreciation and have her stumble headfirst into the horrors of the rebel terrorism against the Empire. It really helped showcase Saw Gerrera as a dangerous individual who the Rebellion might want to steer away from just as much if not more than he does want to stay out of their business of unity.

Yes, there are plenty of gruesome, traumatic experiences waiting here. Jyn is being remade by the events in the book, inevitably losing the rest of her innocence. There's even a romance plotline popping up at some point that turned Jyn's life even more tragic. She's lost a lot of things throughout her life. With all that is shown here, I cannot really understand why Rebel Rising was billed as a Young Adult novel. Thematically it is as strong as most of the "Adult" lineup. Don't let this classification deter you from the novel!

Beyond some much-needed character development for Jyn and Saw, there's a bunch of decent action to be found. Once Jyn leaves Saw's group, things become more adventurous for the young woman. She is constantly forced to reevaluate her stance on rebels and imperials and forced to work with some slimey scumbags to save her bum. Beth Revis shows Jyn as a person of character, however, which tremendously helped make her a compelling and engaging subject for the novel.

On top of all that, Rebel Rising subtly references things and even just turns of phrase from Catalyst and the Rogue One novelization. It slots in so neatly with these that, if you want a comprehensive and satisfying collection, there's no way you should pass up on this book. It clearly is the missing link that I wanted out of the Rogue One arc for a long while now.

You're right, of course. I am gushing a little much. That should show you how much I enjoyed it, of course. Another thing I appreciated though was the choice for relatively short chapters. If you've read my Leman Russ: The Great Wolf review, you'll know that I have a distaste for bloated, overly-long chapters. Here they were easily digestible and well-paced. I cannot stress enough how much it helps me stay invested in a book!

If there's anything negative I can say without going too deep into spoiler territory, it would be that the novel didn't have room to cover everything. There are a few missing years just before the events seeing Jyn imprisoned and ready for the movie. It only makes quick reference to some of the things she got up to in that timeframe, with some of them being interesting enough to warrant further explanation (for example, apparently Jyn spent nearly a year on Takodana, where Mas Kanata's castle is located. If that doesn't hold potential for some more fiction, I don't know!).

Beth Revis managed to fill a large gap in character development that desperately needed plugging. She defied the Young Adult descriptor in how she approached the matter and made her book a compelling read for even older fans of the franchise. Thanks to her work, I can finally say I get Saw Gerrera and Jyn's reluctance in joining the Rebel Alliance. As an extension to the past year of Star Wars material, I'd call it a must-read. Thankfully Disney/Egmont have finally gotten around to publishing their books in standard B-Format Trade Paperbacks now so it lines up neatly next to the rest of the Rogue One saga. So if you're like me, with shelf-OCD, you should be pleased.

Star Wars: Rebel Rising on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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