Beware the Power of the Dark Side

illus. by Ralph McQuarrie & Joe Johnston. 432p. (Star Wars). Disney/Lucasfilm Pr. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484709139.
Gr 4–8—Middle grade "Star Wars" fanatics as well as those new to the franchise will find plenty to enjoy in Angleberger's take on Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. As in the film, readers are quickly brought up to speed with three brief paragraphs of exposition. Angleberger sticks closely to the source material, moving through the film scene by scene and including much of the original dialogue. At the same time, he adds plenty of background, drawing on his familiarity with the canon to incorporate character thoughts and motivations, insight into the intergalactic politics at play, and the essentials of the various planets and moons that serve as setting. Occasional footnotes provide quick, often humorous asides on a wide range of trivia and facts, from the importance of the Death Star's elevators to the difference between bowcasters and blaster rifles. Angleberger's enthusiasm for and deep knowledge of the "Star Wars" universe is evident, but he exercises restraint, balancing obscure details that will only interest hard-core fans with more general context needed by those new to the story. Spot illustrations and cinematic descriptions make it easy for readers to visualize the action.
VERDICT Those familiar with the classic movie will find this to be a faithful adaptation with the bonus of Angleberger's distinctive and amusing narrative voice. New fans will be inspired to seek out the original, and won't be spoiled by having enjoyed this version.

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