Sunday, August 16, 2020

Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura: My Introduction to Star Wars Novels

Star Wars - Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura
A Star Wars Disney Canon Junior Novel

Published: August 4th, 2020

Publisher: Disney Lucasfilm Press

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

# of pages: 252

My rating: 3 stars

Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration

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It's been a few years since Poe's mother passed away, and Poe and his father, who was a pilot for the Rebellion, have had more and more trouble connecting. Not sure what he wants to do with his life, teenage Poe runs away from home to find adventure, and to figure out what kind of man he is meant to be.




2020 is the year of Star Wars for me. I finally started watching the movies on New Year’s Day (thanks Disney+ for finally giving us a way to watch all of them in one place!). Poe Dameron quickly became one of my favourite characters of the franchise, so when I saw this book about a young Poe, I was intrigued. The Rise of Skywalker movie left me with so many questions - Poe was a spice runner? What was his history with Zorii? - and I was glad to have the opportunity to get some of those questions answered.


Since the death of Poe’s mother several years before, Poe’s dad has tried to quell Poe’s desire to be a pilot and seek more than a life as a farmer on Yavin 4. Poe longs for the type of adventure his parents experienced when they were fighting in the rebellion, but he knows he’ll never find it under the watchful, overprotective influence of his father. His life of adventure comes in the form of helping a stranded group of ‘smugglers’ off Yavin 4, but he gets more than he bargained for when he realizes he’s just offered to be a pilot for the infamous Spice Runners of Kijimi.


As a newbie to the expanded universe and origin stories, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Free Fall. It was interesting getting a look at Poe as a headstrong teenager and seeing his character fleshed out a bit more. Like many, I wasn’t thrilled about the whole ‘Poe was a spice runner’ reveal in The Rise of Skywalker, but knowing the details made me feel better about it. You could really feel the conflict within young Poe - his desire to return home warring with his desire to stay loyal to the spice runners, especially to Zorii, with whom he’d formed a connection. He ultimately realized that while he wanted a life of adventure, he wasn’t cut out for the violence, thievery, human trafficking, and other horrors that came with being a spice runner. His misadventures were necessary to show him what he did want and that there were safer and more noble ways to get the adventure he craved.


While I mostly enjoyed Free Fall, I had a few issues with it. The pacing was off, I was often confused about the passage of time, the relationships were very flat, and the ending was abrupt and not very satisfying. Overall I found myself wanting more. More of a connection to the characters, more depth, more emotion. While I did feel Poe’s conflict, I wanted to really connect to him and feel more emotion from him. This book felt like a tiny piece of a snapshot and I wanted the whole picture, or better yet, the whole album.


Poe had lived such a sheltered existence and here he was thrown into this life of crime and violence, but we got more action scenes than actually seeing how it all affected him. And while we did get the history between Poe and Zorii, I wanted to know more about Zorii herself other than the one-dimensional impression we got of her having no morals and being driven by anger and a misguided sense of loyalty to the spice runners. I was also hoping for more depth in Poe and Zorii’s relationship; we were told they’d formed a connection and had moments of intimacy but other than a few brief on-page scenes, we didn’t see much of it. We were told the important bits and then shown the action.


Mild potential spoiler: A friend of mine knows I ship Poe and Finn; she sent me an article a few months ago about how this book appeared to keep Poe’s sexuality open in subtle ways. In the book, the author used neutral phrasing that would definitely leave Poe’s sexuality open to interpretation. For example, “He’d cared for people before - felt the flutter of excitement at something new with someone, only to see it dashed” and “He’d messed up relationships with people before”. The use of ‘people’ rather than a specific gender is subtle and I’m sure it’s as much as Disney would allow, but it gives me some hope that maybe somehow, someway, someday, we’ll get more.


While I didn’t love Free Fall, I’m glad I read it. If you love Poe Dameron and want to know more of his back story and his history with Zorii, Free Fall makes for an interesting read that answers some of the questions raised by The Rise of Skywalker.

Have you read Poe Dameron: Free Fall? Have you read any of the Star Wars books? Have any favourites/ones you'd recommend to a newbie like me?

*Please note I'm an Amazon affiliate, and some of the links in this review are affiliate links. All income made through affiliate sales goes directly back into maintaining Ramblings of a Daydreamer. Thank you for your support!

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