Published: October 4, 2019 (US); November 7, 2019 (UK)
Author: Justina Ireland
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press (US); Egmont (UK)
Formats: Hardback (224 pages), Paperback (224 pages) eBook (224 pages), Audiobook (241 minutes)
Timeline: 34 ABY
A new middle grade novel for Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. When a distress plea goes up from the isolated planet Minfar, Resistance heroes Rey, Poe, and Rose hear the call! Together they will face down a First Order battalion, terrifying flying creatures, and a weapon that could change the course of the war!
Noto’s cover really works well by having Rey front and centre, especially since it’s quite similar to poses she strikes in The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer. Then by combining the Falcon and a stormtrooper helmet in the background, it captures a sense of the struggle between the Resistance and the First Order. There’s a difference in cover colour for the UK and US versions, but both work just as well, although the red US variant is slightly more dramatic.
While on a routine supply run for the Resistance aboard the Millennium Falcon, a mysterious distress call is received by Rey, Rose Tico and Poe Dameron. After tracking down the signal to the planet Minfar, the Resistance heroes learn that the First Order is also on the world and looking for a powerful weapon designed during the Imperial reign. Together the Resistance, with the help of the native Zixon, must stop the First Order from finding this dangerous weapon and free Minfar from further unwanted attention.
As this is a mid-grade novel the writing style isn’t overly detailed, but it is action-orientated right from the first few chapters. The plot is never rushed though – it’s just fast. Thankfully to slow things down a little, Ireland splits the chapters between each Resistance hero and new First Order officer Commander Spiftz, providing some more character-driven chapters amongst all of the action. However, she just as skillfully writes the dogfights and skirmishes, really building the camaraderie between Rey, Rose and Poe, which is hopefully something we’ll see more of in the upcoming film.
Spark of the Resistance delves a little into how each hero is feeling after the events of The Last Jedi. Rey has become unsure about her place in the Force and is feeling a lot of self-doubt, which is also mentioned in Marvel’s current Allegiance series. Poe misses flying dreadfully and his daydreams about a new X-Wing, along with Rey and Rose’s constant teasing, is hilarious. Rose is the calmest of the three, taking things one step at a time, and as a reader you can feel her passion for wanting to help others.
Those in need of aid are a new type of alien species called the Zixon. From Noto’s illustrations they look a little bit like a wallaby and are a cave-dwelling people that make for a unique entry into the Star Wars universe. One thing that they hate is technology, due to the presence of secret Imperial labs on the planet, which is very similar to the Lurmen from Season 1 of The Clone Wars. They’re not to be messed with though and, alongside Rey, Rose and Poe, make for a furry, formidable match against the stormtroopers invading their home.
Without giving away any details, the weapon that the First Order are hunting is also very unusual and well thought out by Ireland. Leading the mission is Commander Branwayne Spiftz who is one hundred percent a career officer. If fans thought Hux wanted a promotion bad enough, then Spiftz puts him to shame. As the plot unfolds you get to see his greed, incompetence and inexperience more, and it’s completely understandable why the First Order agreed to send him on a weird mission to the middle of nowhere.
Although this is a fun adventure story aimed at kids, the novel deals with the morals of using a powerful and dangerous weapon for the right reasons. Is it correct to use the weapon at all? Does it make you no better than the enemy? Ireland deals with these questions extremely well and provides satisfying yet thought provoking answers.
With a story that’s fast-paced anyway, somehow the ending ramps up the action even more, sprinkling some betrayals and last-minute rescues in to keep readers guessing. For fans searching for a ‘lighter’ Star Wars novel, then Spark of the Resistance is an enjoyable story with hints as to how Minfar and its laboratories may affect The Rise of Skywalker, but absolutely nothing definite.
Spark of the Resistance was released on October 4, 2019 in the US and November 7, 2019 in paperback and will be available at all good book stores and through online retailers including Amazon with a RRP of £6.99. It is available in hardback, eBook and audiobook formats.