- Author: Beth Revis
- 410 pages
- Published 2018
- Placement in Timeline: The fifteen or so years leading up to Rogue One
What It’s About:
If you’re a fan of Rogue One, and of Jyn Erso in particular, you might want to get your hands on this one. (I’m assuming you’ve seen Rogue One and know the plot of that movie).
This book chronicles the events of Jyn’s life from the time Krennic came for her father when she was eight years old, until the Alliance breaks her out of the Wobani prison camp. The narrative flashes back and forth between Jyn’s time with Saw Gerrera (and other events afterward) and her time at the prison.
The first third of the book tells of her time with Saw, and we get a better picture of their relationship. When he rescues her from the cave, he tells her “I don’t know what to do with you, kid.” What he ends up doing is training her to fight, which is all to the good. But, although he becomes a father-figure to Jyn, he’s not particularly good at fathering. He doesn’t coddle her, but it’s clear he cares about her.
Jyn’s time with Saw paints a clearer picture of the man, as well. He seems cold and unfeeling, but we learn he once had a sister. She died years ago fighting against the Empire, but Saw feels responsible. Since then, he’s closed himself off to any emotion except rage and a laser-focus commitment on destroying the Empire no matter what the cost. Instead of joining others in a concerted effort to defeat the Empire, he’s become a terrorist.
Jyn is loyal to Saw (he came for her, after all), but even she internally questions his tactics. Still, he’s all she’s got, and his abandonment of her during a failed mission is a traumatic blow. As we know from Rogue One, Saw knew that Jyn’s identity as Galen Erso’s daughter would forever follow them, and put their various missions in danger. That’s his official reason, I would guess; but one wonders if he was uncomfortable with how much he loved her as his “daughter”: Jyn was someone else, like his sister, whom he could lose, and whose welfare he would constantly worry about, distracting him from his mission.
After Saw’s abandonment, she becomes a wanderer, taking on jobs where she can as a codebreaker, not caring whether she works for the Imperials or for anyone who works against them. This proves to be her undoing, however, as she often gets caught between the two. She tries to remain neutral, while still following her conscience, which is a tricky thing in the galaxy just then.
Eventually her troubles lead her to the Wobani prison. These scenes gives us more insight into the conditions she lived under there, which is to say, soul-crushing. At one point, Jyn loses all hope, but it’s the memories of her mother (who gave her the kyber crystal around her neck before she died) that gets her through until the Alliance comes calling.
Rebel Rising is a good story of Jyn Erso’s formative years, creating the person we see at the beginning of Rogue One. I think it may have been marketed as a YA novel, so the story is fairly straightforward, a coming of age story for a young girl in extraordinary circumstances; but it’s still interesting enough to hold an adult fan’s interest.
I liked that the book brought more of Jyn’s mother, Lyra Erso, into the story. We get plenty of information on Jyn’s memories of her father in the movie, and also in that film’s novelization; but not much on her mother, except the crystal. It’s memories of her mother that gives her hope and the strength to survive.
I will admit this book is a bit depressing; this girl just doesn’t get any breaks. Her life is hard, short, and ultimately tragic; but also triumphant. Recommended.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Lightsabers