The first book in the Journey to The Rise of Skywalker line was released on Force Friday: Spark of the Resistance, written by Justina Ireland with illustrations by Phil Noto.
The book is set post-The Last Jedi and focuses on Rey, Poe, Rose, and BB-8 responding to a request for help from the people of Minfar. It’s a fine story, but I wouldn’t consider it essential reading right now.
But let’s dive in to a review!
The book begins with Rey, Poe Dameron, Rose Tico, and BB-8 aboard the Millennium Falcon, making a routine supply run for General Leia Organa. They soon receive a transmission from the planet Minfar, requesting help fighting the First Order. After a brief discussion about what to do, the trio decide to travel to Minfar to provide whatever help they can.
Meanwhile, a First Order contingent led by Commander Branwayne Spiftz conducts operations on Minfar, looking for an old superweapon known as the Echo Horn. The Millennium Falcon arrives, and Poe and Rose man the turrets while Rey flies. They fight off TIE Fighters, but the ship is damaged and they land on the planet. Thanks to BB-8’s scanners, they soon met a Zixon named Lim, who reveals that they were the ones who requested help. Lim guides the Resistance heroes through underground passageways (although at one point they are spotted by First Order troopers), and they soon wind up at the Zixon’s underground city, meeting the leader, Jem.
Commander Spiftz sets out to capture the Resistance forces, recognizing a chance not just to retrieve the superweapon but capture Resistance heroes, thus earning him praise and recognition and power. He works with Professor Glenna Kip, a scientist recruited by the First Order to help them find this weapon, to identify the location of both the enemy and the weapon. Unbeknownst to the First Order, however, Kip was actually the one who years earlier had designed and created the Echo Horn – which was used to essentially control the minds and actions of the Zixon – and her goal in seeking the Echo Horn is to destroy it, to ensure that it can’t be used on the Zixon again.
She knows where the lab is and identifies it, leading the First Order there. The Resistance heroes are also led there by the Zixon, seeking replacement parts to fix the Falcon. The Resistance is too late, as they arrive after the First Order has already retrieved the Echo Horn. But before the First Order can take them captive, Rose uses a weapon from the lab and fights the First Order, driving them away. Unfortunately, they soon realize that Spiftz has used the Echo Horn to control the Zixon – but they are surprised when Kip shows up to aid them.
Poe and Kip take out the guards around the Falcon, and Rose repairs the ship. Rey then flew the ship to get the attention of the First Order, which allowed Poe and Kip to infiltrate the enemy camp. Kip instructs Poe on how to steal a ship, infiltrate the First Order cruiser, and destroy it with a device she built on board. Rose, meanwhile, fired the Falcon‘s turrets in a fight against First Order TIEs. Poe and BB-8 infiltrate the First Order cruiser, and they soon encounter Spift. The Commander tries to use the Echo Horn on Poe, but it has no effect on him. Poe destroys the Echo Horn and leaves Spift unconscious. He activates the device that Kip built and manages to escape the cruiser before it blew up.
First Order reinforcements soon arrive, but they are met by Resistance reinforcements and destroyed. Some of the Zixon offer to join the Resistance, while Professor Kip offers to help the Resistance identify a recruiting station. Rey, Poe, Rose, and BB-8 then set out to deliver the supplies to Leia that was their original mission in the first place.
This was a solid story, and it provided us an opportunity to see one example of how the Resistance is rebuilt in-between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. And it’s basically an example of what Rose said: it’s about saving what they love, not fighting what they hate. These Resistance heroes act not because they hate the First Order but because they want to protect others. That’s why they take the fight to the First Order – because they can’t stand what the First Order does to planets and creatures across the galaxy.
In this story, that takes us to Minfar, meeting the rabbit-like Zixon. And as far as the story goes, it’s nothing really special. The Resistance heroes journey to Minfar to help these people, a First Order commander is power-hungry and searches for a superweapon, and he winds up losing. I don’t mean to be too reductionistic, because I enjoyed this story, but my point is that it’s not really connected with the larger galaxy. The connection comes by way of the main characters, but also by way of the realization that the Resistance will be reborn through aiding these people on worlds all across the galaxy. So really, think of this as just giving us an up-close look at one of them.
And that’s really where the story is strongest, I think, because it gives us a look at the state of Rey, Poe, and Rose in this time period. Unfortunately we don’t dive in as deeply into the mindsets of these characters (it seems that will come, especially with Poe, in the upcoming novel Resistance Reborn), but we see Rey processing what has happened and coming to grips with the hope of a restored Resistance. Remember, Leia told her at the end of TLJ that they have all they need, and I think this story shows us Rey coming to realize that a bit more.
I loved the focus of putting Rey, Poe, and Rose together, too. This team-up provides us a chance to see Rey and Rose interact, to see Rey and Poe banter about flying skills, etc. We don’t really see any of these three interact much with each other in the films, so I think it was a great idea to tell a story where they’re on a mission together. And I loved that Poe Dameron got so happy that the First Order knew he was, too, as that was a nice touch.
So anyway, I love the main characters of this story, and I’m so glad to get a book about them on a mission together. The best way I can describe this story is like this: it doesn’t really give us much about the larger galaxy, or the state of the war, but it shows us one specific example of what the Resistance is all about: helping people across the galaxy. It’s a good story with good characters, but ultimately I think it’s a rather forgettable book. It’s an enjoyable read, but I don’t think it’s necessary by any means.
My grade: 7.5/10