Even after listening to Jason Fry’s Last Jedi novelization, I was a little fuzzy on the post-Empire politics of the Star Wars universe. Why is the Resistance different from the New Republic? Where did the New Order get all that cool stuff? Is General Leia still a princess?
A pair of new young-reader books by Fry helped clear at least some of that up, by way of the Tico sisters’ story. That would be Rose Tico, the engineer who pairs up with Finn for much of The Last Jedi, and her sister Paige. The first time I saw the movie I was disappointed to learn they were sisters, not wives — but so far same-sex romance in the Star Wars universe has been relegated to ancillary books.
Paige has only a small role in The Last Jedi — I’m trying to avoid spoilers here — so her book, Bomber Command, is largely dedicated to backstory. Like Rose’s book, Resistance Fighter, it’s told in journal form, with foldout pages and sketchbook illustrations by Cyril Nouvel. (Sam Gilbey contributes additional illustrations to Resistance Fighter.) It covers much of the same material as the YA novel Cobalt Squadron.
Bomber Command introduces us to Cobalt Hammer, the flying “fort” that Paige is staffing in the opening battle of Last Jedi. Technical diagrams and pull-out guides explain how the bomber’s crew goes about dropping its 1,048-sphere payload on enemy targets. Paige describes her first missions, and recounts how she and her little sis fled their home world when it became a mining colony of the New Order.
Resistance Fighter picks up about where Bomber Command leaves off, which is right where Last Jedi picks up. It’s essentially a retelling of that film’s events as seen through Rose’s eyes: thus, we get nothing about Rey’s Jedi training or her tussle with Snoke. It’s all simplified for kids’ benefit, but at the same time it elaborates on Rose’s feelings and motivations, particularly with respect to her sister, and to her developing crush on Finn.
Interspersed bonus features include a chart of notable Star Wars bombers, a letter from Leia to the New Republic Senate (which seems to be just as ineffectual as the U.S. Senate), an explanation of active racking, and a Canto Bight race card.
The two titles make perfect backseat summer road trip reading for middle-grade Star Wars fans, and if there are adult fans on board, they’ll find themselves reaching for the books feigning idle curiosity. Completists — who already own Fry books like Star Wars: The Last Jedi Incredible Cross-Sections and Star Wars: The Essential Atlas — can just go ahead and treat themselves now.