Review – Star Wars: Rebel Rising is an enlightening prequel to Rogue One


Rebel Rising, Disney-Lucasfilm Press’s latest Star Wars young adult novel, is a perfect prequel to the story of Jyn Erso in the 2016 film, Rogue One. Read our assistant editor’s review below.

There are two ways of looking at the effect of reading Rebel Rising, Beth Revis’s debut young adult Star Wars novel about the heroine of Rogue One, Jyn Erso: “before” and “after.”

When I watched Rogue One before I read Rebel Rising, I liked Jyn. I thought she was brave and smart and indomitable. After reading Rebel Rising and then watching Rogue One again, however, I feel I understand Jyn. I know what she has been through by the events of the film. I feel and ache for her. And I could probably cry for her, too, if I let myself. Such was the impact of Revis’s story.

Image credit: Disney-Lucasfilm Press

The truth is that after everything she goes through in Rebel Rising, Jyn’s spirit should be utterly crushed. Revis’s book follows Jyn from the time Saw Gerrera rescues her when she is a child to the scene in Rogue One where she agrees to help the rebels find Saw again. Many moments, in both the book and the film, should beat her down into despair and defeat. And there are times when they do just that. As we know from Rogue One, however, Jyn is like a plant: Step on her and she will bend under the weight. But give her some space and she will rise higher and higher like a star.

Revis takes Jyn’s irrepressibility from the film and shows the reader the seeds it sprang from. She shows how time and again, Jyn is abandoned, betrayed and lost, and still survives. She explains how Jyn is so seemingly numb to all sentiment in the first few minutes of Rogue One, and then so determined to carry on her father’s message of hope in the last. That is the most gratifying part about reading Rebel Rising:  It informs and enhances what I already knew about Jyn and Rogue One. Furthermore, it makes me see both of the latter in a new light.

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From a technical standpoint, Rebel Rising is skillfully structured. Revis is a talented writer. She kept me interested by maintaining a fast pace throughout the novel. She also alternates between timelines: The timeline of Jyn’s growth to her prison sentence on Wobani, the planet the rebels rescue her from in the film. This back and forth dialogue between Jyn of the “past” and Jyn of the “present” reminds the reader that Rebel Rising is a prequel to Rogue One. The reader is supposed to learn something about the Jyn of Rogue One one through this book.

I keep coming back to that point of understanding Jyn better by reading Rebel Rising because it’s true. As a Star Wars fan, my first interest lies in the films. I enjoy the books and comics best when they complement and inform the films, my first love. Rebel Rising delivers those results with emotional depth and technical finesse.

If you are at all hesitant about picking up this novel because it is branded for a young adult audience: Don’t be. This story is amazing in its own right, as a young adult novel or as just another Star Wars story. Pick it up today in hardback or e-book format wherever books are sold.

Rating: 5/5