SPOILER ALERT: This article will discuss aspects of the latest Star Wars movie in detail. If you haven't yet seen Episode VII and want to go in unspoiled, leave now or forever wish you had! I'll even drop in this awesome clip to give you some extra time to consider.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was easily one of my favorite movies of the year, and I honestly can't remember the last time that I sat in theater completely filled with glee from start to finish. As much as I gush about it, the film did leave a few burning questions for fans to consider that will hopefully be explored in Episodes VIII and XI.
However, some of these questions are actually explored in the official novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is already available as an eBook. The diligent and brilliant minds behind io9 devoured the entire text, and here's just a sampling of the differences between the text and the movie (which may just offer some answers).
We learn how Poe got off Jakku
One of the most glaring WTF moments in the movie's overall story has to be the sudden return of Poe Dameron. He's gone, and then as the climax mounts, he reemerges with that lovable and indomitable spirit. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Poe, and I'm elated that Abrams chose to keep him alive. But, I did find myself wondering just how he did make it off dusty planet of Jakku.
In the book, the explanation of Poe's survival is a bit different. He doesn't eject, he wakes up inside the TIE fighter and deliriously wanders away. He ends up encountering a scavenger and, with that trademark charisma and protective instincts, manages to gain his trust. The scavenger takes him to an outpost, and Poe contacts the Resistance base to get him out.
We discover that Chewbacca is capable of some truly brutal violence
This moment is an amazing throwback to A New Hope, but it was probably removed to maintain a PG-13 rating. In Episode IV, Han Solo references the Wookiee's tendency to rip people's arms off when gambling doesn't work out for him. In The Force Awakens book, scrapyard owner Unkar Plutt tracks down Rey to Maz's party on Takodana. When Rey has trouble using her new blaster against him, Chewie emerges to save the day:
Grabbing the thrusting arm, a roaring Chewbacca twisted and ripped it off at the shoulder, throwing the dismembered limb clear across the room. Looking down at himself, Plutt let out a scream of agony...
So, it turns out that Han wasn't lying about how fearsome is lovable pal really is!
We get some background on Supreme Leader Snoke
While we still don't know much about him—though, I'm really hoping he does end up to be a tiny little thing overcompensating for his lack of stature with giant holograms—Snoke remains a terrifying threat. Apparently, the mysterious, behind-the-scenes head of the First Order has been a major player for a while, even during the original trilogy, at least as far as the novelization is concerned.
In one scene, Snoke admits to Kylo Ren that he had apprentices before him, but he was attracted to the descendant of Darth Vader due to his legacy of both Light and Dark. Snoke was even aware that Vader was Luke's father, and it's implied that he let the Empire fall due to his own interest in the Skywalker clan.
Han and Leia's reunions could have been horribly heartbreaking
Some fans thought the reunion between Han and Leia was too exposition-heavy to be emotionally satisfying. I am not in that camp, but the novel's version of their reunion is even sadder. For starters, it confirms the couple got married, but the kicker comes when Leia reveals she knew that Snoke would try to lure their son Ben to the dark side.
However, she chose to keep that truth from Han and thought that, as the Force sensitive one in the family, she could handle protecting their son without involving her husband. Because the relationship between Ben and Han was always strained (another element that is clearer in the book), Leia worried Han's reaction would push Ben away. Clearly, that didn't really work out for them, but it's obvious she feels as guilty as Han when it comes to the loss of their son.
Based on the discrepancies between the book and the movie, it's likely that the novelization wasn't based on the final script. Still, it's another newly fulfilling glance into a galaxy far, far away, and you can read even more of the differences over at io9!