This past week, I re-read Before the Awakening. I really liked reading this book when it came out, and re-reading it really made me nostalgic. The book is a trio of short stories, each one about one of the main trio of the sequel trilogy before The Force Awakens. I like getting to know what these characters up to right before we meet them in the movie, and I think each story really shows their personalities well and tells us a lot about who they are.
Spoilers ahead for Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka!
Finn's chapter lets us know more about what it's like to be a First Order stormtrooper. We learn about his squad, and his friendships- though also alienation- from them. He cares about his squad, and refuses to leave them behind even when that can get him in trouble with Phasma for allowing weakness. However despite this, he feels separate from them. He's the only one in his squad of four that doesn't have a nickname (the others being Nines, Zeroes and Slip). We also learn that Finn was considered top tier amongst stormtroopers for not just his abilities with combat, but also his leadership and strategical skills. This chapter really showcases Finn and how the qualities that make him so great and help him become a hero are not just things he learns from others, but things core to who he is. Finn doesn't always get the credit he deserves for being brave enough to leave the First Order, so I always love anything that demonstrates how incredible he is inside and out.
Rey's chapter also shows off her skills. We learn about how she uses an old flight simulator she found in a wreckage to teach herself how to fly, and how she's developed survival and mechanical skills over her time as a scavenger. But we also see the traits that we can recognize from The Force Awakens. She's distrustful of people, even those who do nothing but help her. And she's committed to staying on Jakku. As much as the stars call to her, she can't bring herself to leave in case her family comes back. In the story, she finds a ship in good enough condition that (with the help of two scavengers that find her out), she's able to get it flying again. She's excited for the no doubt high amount of portions that she's bound to get from giving it to Unkar, but unfortunately the two other scavengers decide they simply can't pass up this chance. They fly the ship away to get off Jakku, but Rey doesn't go- she has to stay. It's pretty sad, knowing that Rey had this chance to escape the life she's stuck in, but decided not to take it.
Poe's chapter might just be my favorite. This story shows us how Poe gets to joining the Resistance. We see his last days as a New Republic pilot, growing frustrated with his superiors not taking the growing threat of the First Order as seriously as he thinks they should. He leads his squad through defying their orders and getting himself in trouble trying to do what he thinks is right- just like a true rebel. This of course catches the eye of none other than Leia Organa, who recruits him to the Resistance. Poe's story shows us his best qualities- his determination and compassion for not only his squad, but for everyone in the galaxy. Of course, we also get to first really see his penchant for disobeying orders he disagrees with that gets him in so much trouble in The Last Jedi. It's a really cool story that leads us right into The Force Awakens, and gives some great background to show exactly who Poe is.