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6 ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Books To Read Immediately


The galaxy is full of questions again. With the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the rebooting of the expanded universe, the once densely packed canon is wide open and ready to be explored. Following their return trip to a galaxy far, far away, plenty of viewers are already mulling over the film’s spoilery revelations and general world building points.

RELATED: ‘Star Wars’ Awakens a Big Question: Just Who is Rey?

While we definitely won’t learn the answers to major questions (Who are Rey’s parents? Is Snoke really taller than Shaq?) from sources other than the films, there’s already reading material available that fleshes out the new “Star Wars” universe. How did the First Order rise to power? What’s the deal with those eye-catching aliens from Maz Kanata’s castle? How did a kind-hearted guy like Finn become a stormtrooper? All of these questions — and more — are answered in the following reads.


Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary

If you’re looking for the book with the highest information-to-page-count ratio, look no further. Like previous visual dictionaries, this one by Pablo Hidalgo includes vital information that helps shape the decades in between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” The formation of the First Order and the Resistance are detailed (did you know that Leia Organa formed the Resistance?), our heroes are assigned ages (Poe is 32, Finn is 23 and Rey is 19), General Hux’s heritage is revealed (he’s the son of a high-ranking Imperial Academy official), Han Solo’s other career (as a “successful racing pilot”) is mentioned and Kylo Ren’s unique lightsaber is analyzed (it’s powered by a cracked kyber crystal), among many other things.


Star Wars: Aftermath / The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure

The enduring popularity of X-wing ace Wedge Antilles proves that certain “Star Wars” fans love Rebel pilots. “The Force Awakens'” trench run against Starkiller Base introduced a whole new squadron of Resistance pilots in addition to Poe Dameron — and two of them come straight from expanded universe novels. Those interested in more Resistance pilot action can check out Temmin “Snap” Wexley’s (played by Greg Grunberg) teenage years in Chuck Wendig’s novel “Star Wars: Aftermath.” The book also stars Wexley’s mother, herself a Rebel pilot, and Mr. Bones, the rattling battle droid built by a teenage Temmin.

“Game of Thrones'” Jessica Henwick plays X-wing pilot Jessika Pava, a character first introduced in Jason Fry’s junior novel “The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure.” The novel focuses on a story that C-3PO tells Pava about Luke Skywalker; while Pava isn’t the lead character, we do learn more about her appreciation for the Resistance’s roots in the Rebellion, specifically her admiration of Skywalker.


Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon

Remember that high fashion mercenary that ratted out our heroes to the First Order at Maz Kanata’s castle? Her name’s Bazine Netal and she’s the star of Delilah S. Dawson’s short story “The Perfect Weapon.” The short story might even have a greater connection to “The Force Awakens”; a fan theory posits that this short story might reveal how Kylo Ren came to possess Darth Vader’s helmet, an artifact that traveled from a funeral pyre on Endor to a First Order Star Destroyer during the lost decades.


Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire

It would be an understatement to say that “Force Awakens” fans are smitten with Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. How many other “Star Wars” characters have inspired body pillows? If you’re up for risking sensory Poe-verload, you could cozy up to this pillow and read Marvel’s “Shattered Empire” comic series by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto. The story takes place immediately following the events of “Return of the Jedi” and stars Shara Bey and Kes Dameron — Poe’s parents. Poe’s mother, Shara, was a Rebel pilot while his father, Kes, fought on the ground during the battle of Endor. The series shows Shara and Kes interacting with Luke, Han and Leia and tracks their journey from Rebels to parents of a very young Poe.


Before The Awakening

If you’re looking for narrative action from the “Force Awakens” leads that takes place after their infancy, then Greg Rucka’s “Before the Awakening” should satisfy. The book focuses on Finn, Rey and Poe almost immediately leading up to where we first see them in Episode VII. The anthology shows Finn’s stormtrooper training, Rey scavenging for a flight simulator, and Poe running a mission for General Organa. The stories lay track for both Rey’s proficiency as a pilot and Poe’s mission to meet with Resistance ally Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow’s mysterious character from the beginning of the film). The Finn story features pertinent information for fans of the First Order defector, as it shows how he related to his fellow troops and his first inklings that life in the white armor might not be for him.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in theaters now.


  • PretenderNx01

    I’d also recommend The Art of Force Awakens, it’s interesting seeing how the characters and story developed. You never know when unused concepts might pop up again.

  • Black Doug

    I’m going to wait for a new round of Essential Guides. It might not happen until after Rogue One or even Episode VIII but I’ve collected them from the start.

  • Steve F.

    Loved Shattered Empire (and I didn’t realize that Greg Grunberg’s character was that teenage arms dealer in Aftermath!) – plus, The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary is a MUST. Looking forward to reading the other recommended stories, as well as Lost Stars.

  • red vector

    I hated Aftermath. Boring book, poorly written. If you look at the reviews on Amazon nearly 2000 and it only managed to get 2.5 ☆’s. Unfortunately that jackass Wendig’s writing two more books.

  • DayoftheHero

    Keep in mind that The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure and Before The Awakening are both junior novels. The article only mentioned Weapon of a Jedi as being a junior novel.

    Also, Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon is in e-book form only (for now).

  • Rouel

    Preach!!! I wasted time that I will never get back reading that book. The best character by far was the droid Bones

  • Other Chris

    Immediately?! Okay, I’ll rush out, spend money, and get right on that!

  • NoFace

    If you want to read incoherent babble from an overblown author than yes, read Star Wars: Aftermath

  • Keith Bowden

    You forgot Greg Rucka’s Han Solo/Chewbacca Novel, The Journey to Star Wars: Smuggler’s Run. :)

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    I found the three YA novels to be the best Star Wars books so far. Weapon of a Jedi, Smuggler’s Run and Moving Target (especially the latter two). I’m going to read that Rucka comic too of course.

  • Jonathan Ryan

    It’s Disney, they’ll sell a guide by the fall in prep of Rogue One in December and episode VIII May 2017 a few months later. Then by fall 2017 at the latest we’ll get the Expanded Essential Guide.

    … and I’m gonna be one of the suckered that buys both. :-(

  • Jonathan Ryan

    …and it’s just dawning on me that you are correct that it was Greg Grunberg’s character in aftermath. I normally catch these thing instantly, wow, Aftermath must have been even more poorly written and boring than I realized for me to have missed that.Hmm… maybe I can borrow the audio version from the library or something. Maybe a good vocal acting by the reader might cause me to care a bit more about it on the second go…

    Can we get Timothy Zahn or Matthew Stover to take over the rest of the Aftermath series? *sigh*

  • Steve F.

    Yeah, Aftermath… I was expecting more (although Mr. Bones was awesome). The only chapter I liked was the Han & Chewie one.

  • Jonathan Ryan

    My recommendation list

    1) The Force Awakens novelization
    2) The Art of The Force Awakens
    3) Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary
    4) Before the Awakening
    5) The Weapon of the Jedi
    6) Smugglers Run
    7) Moving Target
    8) Rey’s Survival Guide
    9) Journey to The Force Awakens Shattered Empire
    10 The Perfect Weapon
    11) The Force Awakens Incredible Cross sections (wait until you see Han’s Wedding Present to Leia)
    12)Star Wars Lost Stars
    Massive quality drop
    13) Star Wars Aftermath (thats right 5 kids books, 1 comic, 3 guide books, the movie novelization, and 1 teen romance star wars book where better than this, the adult novel set between Endor and The Force Awakens. So much potential flushed down the refresher (aka what the old star wars stories called the toilet))

  • MontyCircus

    It’s one of the very worst-rated books on GoodReads as well.

  • Nightlightknight

    What about TFA’s oficial novelisation? Read that it explains some elements of backstory.

  • dei1c3

    So what you guys are saying is…I should read Aftermath first?

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  • Captain Norris

    Whoa whoa whoa… No Lost Stars? That one is a much better read than Aftermath and does good to the Battle of Jakku, among other things.

  • Captain Norris

    as well as Star Wars: Lost Stars.

  • Captain Norris

    read Star Wars: Lost Stars as well. Gerat book :)

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Oh yes, I did! I forgot lol. I was in a Star Wars swirl of reading leading up to the film. Lost Stars was wonderful and I hope we see more of those characters. My next is Before the Awakening.

  • Captain Norris

    ahhh I still need to read that. Isn’t that where “TR-88″ (also known as Nines) is from?