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Book Review: From a Certain Point of View

From a Certain Point of View is a very lovely and extremely interesting book. It's a collection of 40 short stories told from the points of view of various characters during the events of A New Hope, many of them background characters that appeared in the movie itself. Each story is unique and fun, and they all provide a little more dimension to an already amazing film. I don't have time to fully break down each and every one of them (and most people probably wouldn't read all that anyway), so I'll just briefly share my thoughts on them instead. Well, "briefly." It is me, after all. This is a very, very long review. You've been warned.

Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View by... well, a lot of people. 43 authors total, actually.

The first story is "Raymus" by Gary Whitta. This is the story of Captain Antilles, taking us from the very end of Rogue One through when he dies at the hand (literally) of Vader. It's really interesting to read from his perspective as he desperately tries to get his crew to escape, and then heartbreaking as he swears to go down fighting to the end as he loses hope.

The second story is "The Bucket" by Christie Golden. This is the story of one of the stormtroopers that boards the Tantive IV in the beginning of the movie, specifically the one that managed to stun Princess Leia. We follow him as he internally questions the Empire and what it means to be a stormtrooper, and also his fear as he realizes he underestimated the Rebellion.

The third story is "The Sith of Datawork" by Ken Liu. This story is about an Imperial officer who has to handle all of the datawork required after they neglected to shoot down the escape pod that carried C-3PO and R2-D2. I know it doesn't sound super fun, but I actually love this story and going through all these processes that the Imperials have to cover up the mistake. It was really amusing, to me at least.

The fourth story is "Stories in the Sand" by Griffin McElroy. Yes, the Griffin McElroy of Monster Factory and My Brother, My Brother and Me. I was surprised too. This story is one of my favorites, yes because it's about a jawa. It's super cute, it's about an extra tiny jawa who hides in his own little nook to watch the stories recorded by the droids that the jawas found so that he can learn about the galaxy. He's fascinated by them, and especially fascinated when they find R2. He decides not to erase R2's memory like he's supposed to with the other droids, because he knows R2 is on a special mission. Jot (the tiny jawa) is just so adorable, and I loved his adoration for the stories that he sees, because I really feel the same why watching Star Wars myself.

The fifth story is "Reirin" by Sabaa Tahir. Reirin is a young Tusken Raider who stows away aboard the jawa sandcrawler to get away from her village, who won't let her fight with the men. She finds a crystal that basically calls out to her, and she instantly feels a very strong bond to it. I can only assume personally that it's a kyber crystal, and Reirin is force sensitive. But who knows? Either way, it's very interesting.

The sixth story is "The Red One" by Rae Carson. This is another story that I really like. This is told from the perspective of R5-D4. It's a really touching story, as R5 is desperate to be sold after being stuck in the jawa sandcrawler for years. But R2 pleads for help, and tells him his story. R5 is elated when he's selected by Owen and Luke to buy, as it's the first chance at freedom he's had in such a long time- though he feels for R2. And it's really hard for R5, but he purposefully blows his motivator so that R2 can go instead of him. It's really sweet and emotional, and this story just touches me every time.

The seventh story is "Rites" by John Jackson Miller. This story is about the Tusken Raiders that attack Luke when he finds R2, and then get scared off by Obi-Wan using the call of a krayt dragon. It's a really interesting look into Tusken Raiders and their culture, and how their values of maturity different from ours. Definitely a must-read for Tusken fans (which, let's be honest, we all are after The Mandalorian Chapter 9).

The eighth story is "Master and Apprentice" by Claudia Gray. If I were to rank these stories (which would be super difficult), this one would probably be pretty high up. Sharing a title with Claudia Gray's novel about Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, this story is from the perspective of Qui-Gon as a Force ghost visiting Obi-Wan near the sandcrawler while the droids throw jawas on a pyre. They talk about both the past and the future- Anakin's training and what happened to lead him down his dark path, as well as Luke's training to come and how they can avoid making the same mistakes. Probably the saddest part is how Qui-Gon knows that Obi-Wan is going to die very soon, while Obi-Wan says he hopes not to join him in the Force for a long time. This story is very bittersweet, and I love it so, so much.

The ninth story is "Beru Whitesun Lars" by Meg Cabot. This is a very lovely story from the perspective of Beru. She recounts some things about her life, like how she once thought about trying to open a cafe, and that her blue milk cheese was praised heavily. She talks about how much she loved Luke, and how grateful she was to be able to raise him. It's a really sweet story, one that she's telling from after her death, which is of course very sad. But she doesn't seem frightened, or anything less than accepting. She's happy with the life she had, which is really all you can ask for, isn't it?

The tenth story is "The Luckless Rodian" by Renée Ahdieh. This is a story about Greedo, the "maclunkey" king himself. Except oddly enough, this story actually came out pre-maclunkey. Imagine that! A maclunkey-less era... it seems so distant now. Anyway, this story ends with the unfortunate (for Greedo) conflict where he gets blasted by Han Solo. But before that, we learn some history about Greedo. Specifically, why he hates Han Solo so much. Did you know that Han Solo stole a lady from Greedo? I mean, you have to side with her. Harrison Ford... green amphibian dude. Not hard. Anyway, so Greedo REALLY hates Han, and is more than happy to try and shoot him. But... well, we know how that goes, don't we?

The eleventh story is "Not for Nothing" by Mur Lafferty. This story is about Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes, better known as the cantina band. In this story, we learn about how they got stuck on Tatooine paying off a debt to Jabba, and now that the debt is paid they have to play in the cantina to get enough credits to leave. It's a really interesting story, as we get the famous scenes in the cantina from A New Hope told from the perspective of the people on the stage, which is just really fun to read. We also learn that the band has a history with Greedo, as they outed him for his tricks to Jabba. So when he walks in to the cantina, they actually became pretty frightened he was here for revenge... until Han shot him, of course.

The twelfth story is "We Don't Serve Their Kind Here" by Chuck Wendig. This story is about Wuher, the bartender of the cantina. Like "Not for Nothing," we get a new angle on the cantina events from the movie, though this time his view is from behind the bar. We also learn a little more about this character- his family was killed by droids during the Clone Wars. Couldn't help but remind me of our beloved Din Djarin, honestly. This story was pretty interesting, and fleshed out this character quite a bit.

The thirteenth story is "The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper" by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction. This story is really long compared to the others, with a bigger cast of characters than most of the others. It tells a very complicated and very criminal story about debts, threats, and a very important stolen Kloo Horn. Explaining the whole thing would take too long, but it was probably among the more riveting of the stories as you follow these characters while they get more and more tangled in this web.

The fourteenth story is "Added Muscle" by Paul Dini. This is a story about Boba Fett, from his scene with Jabba and Han in Docking Bay 94. This story is actually pretty amusing, because it's first person from Fett's perspective and we get his inner monologue. He mostly complains about Solo and Jabba, but probably my favorite little bit is when he talks about Vader, who he calls Mr. "No Disintegrations." It's hilarious, and I can't wait to see more of this Fett attitude starting in December.

The fifteenth story is "You Owe Me a Ride" by Zoraida Córdova. This story is about the Tonnika sisters, and how they're stuck on Tatooine trying to scrape together the money to leave. They briefly recount a few of their various misadventures across the galaxy, and in this story they decide to steal the Millennium Falcon. They don't succeed obviously- they get scared off by Jabba and all his bounty hunters in the docking bay, but after the Falcon flies away, they steal another ship since so much of the rest of the port is unguarded now due to that incident.

The sixteenth story is "The Secrets of Long Snoot" by Delilah S. Dawson. I really really loved this story. It tells the story of the long-snouted Imperial informant from A New Hope, and it's actually a really touching one. We learn about this character and his tragic history of the Empire's subjugation of his world, and how he left to try and learn how his people could fight back- though he's been extorted for his money and now is forced to sell out to the Empire, using his heightened senses to gather intel for them... like where the Falcon is. This story made me really, really feel for a character I probably wouldn't have thought twice about otherwise, which is really the goal of this book, isn't it?

The seventeenth story is "Born in the Storm" by Daniel José Older. This is a really great story about a stormtrooper on Tatooine is growing sick of the Empire. He also really loves dewbacks, and the end of the story has him riding off on a dewback, which is super fun! It's also written in the style of an incident report being filled out concerning when Obi-Wan mind tricks the stormtroopers with the iconic "these aren't the droids you're looking for." It's an equally funny and inspiring story, and a super fun to read- I love Older's writing style, and it really shines in this story.

The eighteenth story is "Laina" by Wil Wheaton. This story is really emotional, it's about the rebel that we see on top of the scouting tower on Yavin IV. We learn that a shuttle carrying his young daughter to safety is flying away from the rebel base. He records a message for her to listen to when she's older, where he details how and why he and her mother joined the Rebellion, and why it's so important that they're fighting the Empire. The real kicker comes towards the end though... when it's revealed that the ship is headed to the baby's aunts on Alderaan. Ouch.

The nineteenth story is "Fully Operational" by Beth Revis. This story is from the point of view of General Tagge. It goes through his perspective on the Empire and his frustration with the state of the galaxy. We also get to read through the Imperial meeting from A New Hope in this story, where Admiral Motti gets choked by Vader. This strikes fear into Tagge, who realizes that Vader is the real most powerful weapon of the Empire.

The twentieth story is "An Incident Report" by Mallory Ortbeg. This story is told like Admiral Motti essentially talking to Imperial HR about the whole choking incident. It's really funny as Motti justifies himself (and he does make some good points), but also repeatedly insists that he definitely isn't trying to talk down on Vader's religious views, he loves diversity! And he isn't afraid of Vader obviously, he just thought it was unprofessional. Sure, Motti. Sure. This story is really funny, and I did enjoy it.

The twenty-first story is "Change of Heart" by Elizabeth Wein. This story is about an Imperial naval trooper who watches Leia's torture, and is really affected by it and begins to truly doubt the Empire. He also watches her when the Death Star destroys Alderaan, and realizes that she lied about the Dantooine location of the rebel base, but he empathizes with her so much that he chooses to stay silent about it, and realizes that his silence is making him a rebel along with her.

The twenty-second story is "Eclipse" by Madeleine Roux. This one absolutely broke my heart. It's told from the perspective of Queen Breha Organa on Alderaan. First, Bail comes home, and her joy from seeing her husband again is quickly undercut by the news that Leia's ship has lost content. Breha and Bail despair as it looks like their daughter is dead, and do what they can to have people look for he- but with the senate dissolved, that's not very much. But the real despair of this story comes from when Bail and Breha see the Death Star overhead, and it then destroys the planet. It's heart-wrenching to read as they realize what's happening, and that all they can do is hold each other and wait, and have hope that Leia is okay and will continue the work they started in the fight against the Empire. This is the one story that made me cry, it's just really beautiful and I hope that Madeleine Roux writes more Star Wars in the future, because she's super good at it.

The twenty-third story is "Verge of Greatness" by Pablo Hidalgo. This story is from the perspective of Tarkin. It jumps through time with Tarkin through different points of the Death Star's development, and then as he destroys Alderaan. It's really interesting to get his point of view through all of these moments, especially after my recent re-read of the Tarkin novel. However, among the most interesting points is when we go to the perspective of Krennic as he dies on Scarif. I think what stuck out to me the most was Krennic pointing out Tarkin's fatal flaw when it comes to the Death Star- he looks at it as a politician and military mind, while Krennic has the perspective of an engineer to look for the Death Star's flaw. It's a simple statement, but you have to wonder how much things would've changed if they did as Krennic wanted.

The twenty-fourth story is "Far Too Remote" by Jeffery Brown. "Far Too Remote" is actually not a written short story and just a single-panel comic, but it's super cute. It has an officer and some stormtroopers looking at some cardboard boxes with "rebel base" sloppily scrawled on them, and the officer says "something tells me they're not really here." Presumably, they're on Dantooine where Leia told them the rebel base was, despite it not being there. It's a funny, light little comic and was pretty cute, and a nice surprise in the middle of the book.

The twenty-fifth story is "The Trigger" by Kieron Gillen. This story is about Doctor Aphra! She's on Dantooine at the time of A New Hope, which is unfortunate for her because of all the stormtroopers that are now searching the area for a rebel base that hasn't been there for a while. Aphra of course is super cool and amazing in everything that she does, and I really loved reading how she escapes from the stormtroopers so she can run free back to her ship. Aphra keeps her charming attitude and humor through it all, and it was absolutely a pleasure to read this story.

The twenty-sixth story is "Of MSE-6 and Men" by Glen Weldon. This story has a really interesting style, because it's written entirely from the perspective of a mouse droid- running diagnostics and all. It's hard to explain without seeing text from the story, but it really throws you for a loop at first, but ultimately makes for a really interesting reading experience for a pretty interesting story.

The twenty-seventh story is "Bump" by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker. This story is about the famous stormtrooper who bumped his head. He was actually the trooper that got mind-tricked by Obi-Wan on Tatooine, and was still feeling pretty confused around that whole scenario. It wasn't until he bumps his head that it all comes back to him, and he realizes that in fact, those were probably the droids he was looking for! Woah! It sounds pretty funny, and it is, but it's also actually a much deeper story than that in an actual read-through, which I'd encourage you to do.

The twenty-eighth story is "End of Watch" by Adam Christopher. This story is told from the perspective of an officer on the Death Star who actually has no idea about the big galaxy-changing adventure happening there. It's a big station after all, not everyone is going to know everything. What she does know is that there's an ugly freighter in one of her docking bays and it's throwing off her schedule, and then later there's some kind of incident on one of the detention levels. They get a suspicious message saying that everything is fine, and decide to send troopers to check it out. But then she's off duty, so not her problem anymore! I can relate.

The twenty-ninth story is "The Baptist" by Nnedi Okorafor. This story is crazy! It's from the perspective of the dianoga in the trash compacter! We learn all about her and her background, and how she decides to pull Luke under because she can feel a Force connection to him and thinks that he can help free her from her captivity aboard the Death Star. However, she realizes that probably won't really work out, so she lets him go. It's a really captivating story, and I never thought I'd be so invested in the dianoga, but I definitely was. Super interesting!

The thirtieth story is "Time of Death" by Cavan Scott. This is a really fascinating story told from the perspective of Obi-Wan as he dies. He flashes through various points in his life, the most notable being when he saved Luke and the Lars from some bandits when Luke was only a tiny child, and Luke helped by throwing a toy at one of the bandits when Obi-Wan was in trouble. Also, we learn that Obi-Wan would carve toy ships from wood and drop them off for Luke, which is just adorable. It's a really cool story to read, and Cavan Scott does it just perfectly.

The thirty-first story is "There is Another" by Gary D. Schmidt. This was probably one of my favorites. It's from the perspective of Yoda in his exile on Dagobah. He is preparing to move over to his other home for the dry season on Dagobah and to plant his crops for the season when Obi-Wan visits him as a Force ghost. When Obi-Wan asks Yoda to train Skywalker as a Jedi, he is delighted to do so- until he realizes that the Skywalker Obi-Wan wants trained is Luke. Yoda reluctantly agrees, and I feel that this really helps to set the stage for how he reacts when Luke comes to see him in The Empire Strikes Back. It's very interesting to read about, and I loved reading from Yoda's perspective here.

The thirty-second story is "Palpatine" by Ian Doescher. I didn't recognize Ian Doescher's name at fist, but it took me roughly half a second to realize that he must be the author of the Shakespeare's Star Wars books. He writes a long Shakespeare-style monologue for Palpatine as he celebrates the death of Obi-Wan and eagerly looks forward to all the new power that will be brought from destroying the Jedi and the completion of the Death Star. My Shakespeare reading skills are a little rusty I'll admit, but it was still super cool to read and it's always fun to read these different twists on Star Wars.

The thirty-third story is "Sparks" by Paul S. Kemp. This is from the perspective of one of the Y-Wing fighter pilots from the Death Star run- and no, unfortunately it is not Evaan Verlaine. This is one of the pilots that dies in the battle, and we follow him right up through to that point. It's a really sad story to read through, but one that I'm glad they told.

The thirty-fourth story is "Duty Roster" by Jason Fry. This story was a little more lighthearted at first. It's about a prospective rebel pilot that earned the name "Fake Wedge" due to his similarity to everyone's favorite Wedge Antilles. Unfortunately, there aren't enough ships for him to join the battle, after Luke (who he passive-aggressively calls "womp rat boy" due to Luke's comment about womp-rats in the briefing room, which infuriated him) so he has to watch from the control room as the battle unfolds. He loses hope inch by inch as pilots die, but when the Death Star explodes a celebration bursts out- even as he's mourning his fellow pilots. It's really sad and emotional, but another very good story to read.

The thirty-fifth story is "Desert Son" by Pierce Brown. This story is told from the perspective of Biggs Darklighter. Everyone loves Biggs! We get to read his point of view during his gleeful reunion with Luke, and then how hard he's fighting through the battle. And just like Luke does with the womp-rats, Biggs compares it to their flying back home. I loved reading from Biggs' perspective, especially with how hopeful he was right to the end, being completely certain that Luke, his fellow son of Tatooine, would make the shot that the galaxy needed most. It was really sweet and hopeful, while being sad at the same time. Really, what is Star Wars if not hopeful and sad all at once?

The thirty-sixth story is "Grounded" by Greg Rucka. This story is about Nera Kase, a mechanic on Yavin IV who gets all of their ships running for them, though she's not really a pilot herself. She, among many others, also watches the battle unfold from the command room, noting the pilots, their callsigns and flying history from memory as she works with them so much. It was really poignant and sad how she cries for all of the pilots lost as everyone else is swept up in the celebrations at the end of the battle. I really felt for her, and thought this story was so beautifully written.

The thirty-seventh story is "Contingency Plan" by Alexander Freed. This was another story that I really, really liked. It's from the perspective of Mon Mothma as she plans for the worst. She imagines her future if the Death Star destroys Yavin IV- and it's a grim one. The rebellion destroyed, losing everyone she cares for, and then being made an example of by the Empire herself. She long describes this dark future, and she's preparing for the worse, readying a shuttle to flee with important information that maybe, someday, with a little hope, could help kickstart a second rebellion. It's a very dark future, and one that I'm glad didn't happen. It shows a different side to the rebel leaders, too. We always see them as being the hopeful idealists, but here is Mothma with a pessimistic outlook, much more than many of her peers. Everyone loses hope sometimes, and it's really sad to see Mothma go through that.

The thirty-eighth story is "The Angle" by Charles Soule. This story is actually from the perspective Lando, and I always love some Lando. Lando is in the midst of a game when the Empire raids the casino he's in, taking everyone's money and kicking them out. Later, Lando sees a recording that the rebels leaked of the Battle of Yavin IV. Lando is struck most by something- no, not the miraculous victory of the rebels over this massive, planet-killing space station. That's fine, I guess. What really throws Lando for a loop is the presence of the Millennium Falcon. He can't believe that Han would be throwing in with some rebels, and not for money or anything- flying into a battle! It's so interesting to see how Lando is just wondering who Han has become, and of course, always very amusing to read anything from Lando's perspective, because what do we love if not that Calrissian style?

The thirty-ninth story is "By Whatever Sun" by E. K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein. This story is actually about Miara Larte, a character you'll recognize if you've read the Ahsoka novel! Far from the small-time farmer striking against the Empire how she can in Ahsoka, Miara is now leading her own crew in the rebellion. They get to watch the medal ceremony after the hard-won victory. And though they're grieving, there's hope too as they see the joy in celebrating their victory, and look forward to more to come as they keep bringing the fight to the Empire. It's a really bittersweet and hopeful story, and I also just loved seeing what Miara was up to now.

The final story is "Whills" by Tom Angleberger. I love this story. A lot. It's a dialogue between two mysterious characters debating best how to start a story. They decide to go with "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away" to start, but then argue about where in the story to start it. One wants to start with R2-D2 and C-3PO on the Tantive IV, but the other thinks that's silly. I mean, why not start with Anakin? Well, we can come back to that later. But that could be confusing! It's a super funny, very very meta story, and one that I completely love, especially with how it incorporates the opening crawl into it. It's just amazing, and I think everyone should read it, even if they don't read other stories in this book. It's just that's good.

That wraps up my extremely lengthy From a Certain Point of View review. Stay tuned for one about From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back!

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