Written by Tracey West
Published by PUFFIN BOOKS
Reviewed by Scott Weller
From the opening battle within the crystalline streets and cities of Christophsis, to the finale lightsaber duels between Sith and Jedi on the dangerous barren desert world of Tatooine, the STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS YOUNG READERS EDITION adaptation of the first animated film, penned by Tracey West, zings along at a brisk old rate that perfectly captures both the film and its target readership of ages 8-11. Yep, characterization is limited on our favourite heroes and villains of the Saga (though Ahsoka gets the best of what treatment there is, being the new youngster with whom the books readers will hopefully relate to), but the well described action and lean to the bone transfer of the films screenplay (which omits anything that doesn’t keep it’s readership full on to the story of Obi-Wan, Anakin and Ahoska) keeps you turning the page (missing sequences cut for pace reasons include the Bounty Hunters heads being delivered to Jabba’s Court, the recon commandoes on Teth, the cute scene with Ahsoka telling Rex and the Clone Troopers about how she saved Anakin in Christophsis, and Ventress choking/manipulating Captain Rex). To maintain said pace in the books second half, several sequences that were spread out in the finished film are also condensed into one period of time (I.E. the majority of Padme’s scenes, sadly showing, even more so, just how brief her character’s contribution actually proves to be to the story).
The book compensates for any missing on screen losses, however, with some intriguing scripted and filmed scenes that would actually be omitted from the final animated movie, like Ahsoka and Anakin, with help from Artoo, facing off against Ventress, whilst taking on a rampaging Rancor at the same time. Also on Teth, a moment where the Jedi pairing go head-to-head against a walking Vulture Droid (which Ahsoka finally brings down). Finally, though proving an un-necessary sequence which deserved to be cut when read, where, to lose weight to achieve an escape orbit from pursuing Vulture Droid fighters, Ahsoka is almost blown out of the Twilight’s cargo bay when she opens the bay doors to loose out its stored containers.
With the adaptation presumably being written whilst the film was still in post-production, there are also a few little differences in the way certain characters are described and what ships are used in combat-Rex doesn’t have the blond/white hair he sports in the film, Threepio is bronze rather than gold, and a Neimoidian spherical cruiser attacks the Republic cruiser in the Teth atmosphere rather than one of the Separatist EPISODE III cruisers that would be led by General Grievous.
Adding to the reading experience the chapter’s introductions are nicely designed with a modern feel, and there is an excellent 16 page colour photo section of high quality stills from the movie including two cut scene images (the aforementioned Anakin and Ahsoka versus Ventress and an excellent shot of the menacing General Grievous).
The book isn’t going to win any awards for literature any time soon, but it is a great read for the kids, and a pleasantly diverting enough one for adults, too, who may want to enjoy some light, but highly exciting action/adventure STAR WARS fun for a couple of hours whilst in the garden, before heading on in to the much darker and violent world of Karen Traviss’s adult adaptation for the film. As a starter to that main course, the junior novelisation works a treat….
AFICIONADO RATING: A fun and lively adventure (but what on earth is a Retail Droid?), with a nice, colourful photos section. The junior version of film adaptations these days may be different animals to the ones that STAR WARS fans from the seventies may have consumed, but it is nonetheless a solid read for the younglings. 7 out of 10